I often get questions from people regarding LinkedIn. When I feel the question is shared by others, I post it here on my blog for all to read.
I would like our employees to use LinkedIn, but our President (not a LinkedIn user) feels that our competitors can use this to find our key customers. Any suggestions?
This is one of the most popular questions I get at my LinkedIn presentations and so I am happy to answer it here on my Blog.
There is a fear that by being on LinkedIn, you are opening your network up to competitors. There are ways to make sure your connections list can’t be poached…
3 Ways to Cloak your Network from Competitors
1. Only 1st-degree connections can see your list of 1st-degree connections. If you don’t want your competitor seeing your list of connections, DON’T CONNECT WITH THEM.
2. If you have connected with your competitor and he/she is a 1st degree connection, you can turn off the ability for people to see your connections list. You can select who can see your connections from your Settings page…
But because I like you, I’ll make it real easy for you to turn it off. Here’s a magic button:HIDE YOUR LINKEDIN CONNECTIONS
By turning off your connections list, you are turning it off for everyone. LinkedIn doesn’t offer the ability to select who can and cannot see your connections list.
3. Use subterfuge to hide key customers from your competitors… If you only connect with your key clients, it makes it very easy to find them BUT if you connect with LOTS and LOTS of people on LinkedIn, finding your key clients becomes like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Connecting on LinkedIn is important and it allows you to truly utilize LinkedIn as a sales and business tool. Don’t solely connect to people you know and trust… expand and connect with people you just met, people you used to know, people you would like to know better, etc… By connecting, you are able to see inside connections and leverage your network more effectively.
Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies CloserI remember years ago, (this was back before I optimized LinkedIn profiles, back when I was in sales) going through my LinkedIn invitations and seeing an invite from a competitor. My blood ran cold. “WHAT DO I DO?” I didn’t want to connect with him but then I remembered the movie, The Godfather. There’s a great scene where Michael Corleone says:
“My father taught me many things. He taught me to keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”
And at that moment, I hit the Accept button and allowed my competitor into my network. Why? Well, it’s true that he could now see my status updates but I could now also see his! He could view my connections list, but I could also view his connections list too!
By having my competitor in my network, it allowed me to keep my eye on him. I could see exactly what he was doing and it allowed me to stay ahead.
And the funny thing was, even though I could view his connections list… I NEVER DID! I was too busy servicing my clients and finding new clients that I didn’t have the time to weed through his network. I had better things to do.
Ultimately, LinkedIn offers so much opportunity and functionality. It’s clear to me that your employer needs a better understanding of the benefits of LinkedIn. I suggest having your employer watch my presentation, 5 Tips to Crank Up Your Impact and Results on LinkedIn. If he’s interested, you can also have him call me. I’d be happy to talk to him further.
Here’s my presentation:
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