Controlling the visibility of your connections is an option LinkedIn offers. I discovered this when I scanned the connections of an existing LinkedIn contact and found them hidden, except for the few connections we shared.
Why would I be scanning this guy’s connections? For new connections, of course. Scanning someone’s connections is like going to a networking event at his home or office.
The reverse is true when someone scans your connections; you’re inviting them into your social world – in LinkedIn’s case – your professional world. That’s what social media platforms are all about – connecting through others.
WHY HIDE YOUR LINKEDIN CONNECTIONS?
So hiding your connections from your LinkedIn contacts is the equivalent of inviting your friends to a networking event, but telling them to sit in a closed room where they can only talk to people that you both know. Who needs that?
Thinking this through I wondered … what’s the advantage of being connected to this guy through LinkedIn?
I can have his contact info? I already have that.
I can send him Inmail? I have his email address – he’s a client.
I can have access to his full resume? Big deal.
I can see what he posts in groups? I don’t check groups much.
I can read his posted updates? Yippee.
Conversely, I consider the benefits he gets by being connecting to me.
Access to my almost daily updates? (okay, probably not a big plus for him)
He can check out my 500+ connections, many of whom are in networks similar to his, and see whom he might add to his network.
He can get introduced to key people in my network through me.
He can expand his LinkedIn Network by some 57,600 people – because that’s how many I have in my network 2 degrees away today.
I’m sensing some benefit imbalance here, and while I hate to admit it, this irks me. I’m thinking, “What’s he got in his less than 120 connections that’s worth hiding?” It’s not worth the effort to bring this to his attention. He’s a client. Being or not being connected on LinkedIn isn’t worth straining the relationship.
I suspect my reclusive contact, is concerned that his competitors may find potential customers when scanning his connections. But his competitors would have to be his connections to do that (LinkedIn only allows those connected to you to view your contacts). So he’s worried that his connections might “connect” with each other? That’s the foundation of networking.
These platforms aren’t called “social” media for nothing. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and even blogging are all about sharing info and connecting with others. So if you remove the connection benefit by hiding your contacts or friends, you decrease your own worth as a connection. And on LinkedIn, that’s a big decrease.
If you’re worried about your competitors seeing your connections, don’t connect with them on a social media platform.
Mindie Burgoyne is a writer, speaker and trainer on marketing for small business. By day she works for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, and in her off-time she writes, speaks and trains on the uses of social media in marketing and how to maximize travel fun off the beaten path. She is an avid Baltimore Ravens fan leads tours to Ireland every year with her husband, Dan Burgoyne. Mindie and Dan have six children, eight grandchildren and three furry dogs. They make their home on Maryland's Eastern Shore.