Three Reasons for Not Sharing Your LinkedIn Connections

LinkedIn Social GraphSharing is the keystone of the collaborative economy. It’s also why LinkedIn has a market cap of over $18-billion.

When you join LinkedIn, by default all your connections are able to view the detailed profiles of all your other connections. Is that what you want?

Actually, there are five good reasons why – in most cases – you should allow your connections to see one another’s profiles:

  1. To generate valuable business opportunities: when you help business people connect with each other, some of the benefit eventually flows back to you. It could be finding a new customer, discovering a new technology, or even just identifying a blog or web site that’s relevant to your work.
  2. To help LinkedIn members, especially those who are new to the site, find shared connections. Pay it forward.
  3. Relationships are a two-way street, so making your connections visible validates your participation in this new “sharing economy”. Some people will hesitate, or even choose not to do business with you, if you appear to be hoarding your knowledge. Sharing connections has emerged as the standard behavior on LinkedIn, to the point where not sharing your connections could easily be perceived as being self-centered, or greedy.
  4. Hiding your connections is pointless, because LinkedIn members can simply used the Advanced Search capabilities to research someone they’re interested in.
  5. It’s the right thing to do – giving back to a community from which you’ve benefited. Yes, LinkedIn is a business, but that doesn’t exempt its members from the universal law of karma.

By contrast, I’m aware of three situations in which it’s probably best to not share your connections:

  1. If you’ve indiscriminately accepted LinkedIn invitations from people you don’t really know, it’s likely your connections now include a fair number of spammers, multilevel marketers, and overly aggressive salespeople. Please, don’t bother sharing access to these folks.
  2. If you work in Sales, you may not want to make your connections publicly visible, especially if you’re connected to other salespeople and are concerned they might try to poach some of your customers.
  3. If you’re looking for a new job and making lots of new connections (for instance, with recruiters), it might not be a good idea to share them with your current contacts (including your co-workers – and your boss).

Bottom line: as long as you only connect with people you really know and trust, it’s a good idea to share your LinkedIn connections.