No Boss, they are not your connections – Get over it

 

A LinkedIn connection between an employee and a customer, prospect, vendor, partner doesn’t belong to anyone. No, if, thens or buts. Get over it Boss.

A LinkedIn Connection is nothing more than that, a connection between two people. The real business value is in the relationship.

I get pulled into this conversation often. Recently in a legal dispute that got heated.

Here are four mistakes companies have made regarding their LinkedIn Connections after an employee is involuntarily or voluntarily terminated from employment:

  1. Required an employee to “hand over” their LinkedIn account to a manager upon termination of employment. WRONG!
  2. Required an employee to remove customers or prospects as LinkedIn connections upon termination of employment. WRONG!
  3. Required an employee to hand over all the business cards they collected during employment upon termination of employment. WRONG!
  4. Require a signed contract that an employee will not talk to a customer for a period of time upon termination of employment. WRONG!

LinkedIn Terms of Services – Have you read it yet? You need to, it’s a Legally Binding Agreement.

 

In Section 2.2 Your Membership, LinkedIn clearly states who your personal account belongs to:

“As between you and others, your account belongs to you. You agree to: (1) try to choose a strong and secure password; (2) keep your password secure and confidential; (3) not transfer any part of your account (e.g., connections, groups) and (4) follow the law and the Dos and Don’ts below. You are responsible for anything that happens through your account unless you close it or report misuse.

Note that for Premium Services purchased by another party for you to use (e.g. Recruiter seat bought by your employer), the party paying for the Premium Service controls such an account (which is different from your personal account) and may terminate your access to it.”

This statement in the legally binding agreement clearly states your personal account does not belong to your boss. Thus, you can not hand over your account to anyone once you leave a company. It goes with you.

Removing connections when you leave a company is ridiculous.

A real connection, one that has been properly developed and nurtured, extends way beyond a LinkedIn connection. If an organization fears an ex-employee having a LinkedIn connection with a customer, prospect or business partner, they have not done well to nurture the business relationship.

If the employee did not develop a relationship with the LinkedIn member, it doesn’t make a difference that they are no longer connected on LinkedIn. There was no relationship to be severed.

If the employee developed a meaningful relationship with the LinkedIn member, the relationship extends way past the LinkedIn connection. The relationship can not be severed by disconnecting on LinkedIn.

Who keeps business cards any more? I know, lots of people do, even though this is such an old-school process.

 

The previous perspective applies to business card information as well.

If your employee did not create a meaningful relationship with the individual, there is no real value to them keeping the business card.

And, if your employee did create a meaningful relationship with the individual, the relationship extends way past the business card already. They don’t need the card any longer.

Requiring an ex-employee to “not talk to a customer” is a serious mistake.

Again, if there is no relationship between the employee and the customer or prospect, they are not likely to have future meaningful conversations anyway.

If there is a meaningful relationship already in place, they are not likely to talk. If there is a meaningful relationship in place, your requirement of “no talking” is going to be ignored.

Requiring terminated employees to sever a connection is not a practical business process.

A better business process is to develop customer, prospect, vendor and business partnerships beyond a single employee. Develop brand relationships while the employees develop individual relationships with these individuals.

Yeah, I agree to well crafted and executed Non-Compete Agreements, however this should not include any aspects of LinkedIn Accounts, Connections or Relationships.

Think through what will happen with the business relationship when you tell an individual to cease any relationship with your customers. If I were your customer and had developed a meaningful relationship with one of your employees I would be insulted by this action. I may not want to do business with your organization at this time.

A LinkedIn connection belongs to no one. It’s all in the relationship. If you want to continue doing business with a customer once an employee leaves your employment, nurture the relationship between your brand and the customer.

If you want to learn more regarding LinkedIn best practices, Let’s talk  – info@BurrissConsulting.com or 336-283-6121

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