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I've got a new job. My (current) director asked me not to update my LinkedIn profile until a couple of weeks after I leave. I told him that my new company may use LinkedIn as part of the business, and so I may be asked to join up as well.

He said that's fine then but in that case, can I remove all (current job) clients from my LinkedIn contacts.

Is this okay? Is this an acceptable request?
I feel like I may want to use those contacts in future, and some clients I'm actually quite friendly with.

Update

First of all, thanks for all the responses!
I'd just like to clarify one or two things...

My current job doesn't use LinkedIn at all. Clients who are in my network joined me of their own accord (except for one or two who I connected with).

When I say that my new company may 'use LinkedIn as part of the business', I don't mean using my contacts or 'stealing' business. I mean that all the current employees have set their positions with the company, and are following their company profile. This may be for company cohesion, but equally may be a coincidence. This is why I feel I may be asked to set my position too.

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Why do you feel you need to remove those contacts? I see no obvious reasons. –  superM Jan 27 at 10:16
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"Hey, seeing as how we're not friends anymore... could you delete all your friends on Facebook that are also my friends?" –  itcouldevenbeaboat Jan 27 at 17:27
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Neither company should have any say in what you put in Linked In outside of any contractual obligation you have with them. (And even then, if it's something like a Non-compete, it still may not obligate you as non-competes are often nullified in court) –  DA. Jan 27 at 19:06
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The bigger the stakes, the greater the likelihood for negative blowback. Your contacts are probably more valuable than a fast update on your profile. If I were you, I'd just say I'd respect their wish to not update my profile for 2 weeks. If they brandish lawyers, there's probably a lot more at stake than you let on, but in that case, you better lawyer up too. –  Aaron Hall Jan 27 at 22:14
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In a comment below you said that "I'm going to work for a company that is involved in social marketing" - could this be the reason you've been asked to remove those contacts? Perhaps the director is afraid you'll be 'spamming' his clients and they'll blame him? –  Nomic Jan 28 at 0:52
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closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., Jan Doggen, jcmeloni, jmac, gnat Jan 31 at 11:48

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

6 Answers

"Don't update your profile"

This requested delay, in my opinion, matters little. Your director likely does not want clients to see a current team member leaving the company, and ask questions ("why would somebody leave the company I'm paying? Is there a problem?"). A possible "fear" is that those clients to which you're connected would ask why you left, but the director could probably manage those questions. A much more dire fear is that clients will contact you, and this could be bad for business, depending on your answers.

I say it matters little because a few weeks could allow for a new hire (replacing you), which would at least appease clients, but if the business has problems that would lose clients based on a single employee leaving, your director likely has much bigger issues that won't be fixed in just a few weeks.


Challenging that your new boss may request that you update your profile was a smart move. Unfortunately, it triggered a strange response:

"Disconnect from our clients"

I assume that you're moving to a related company in the same field; essentially, a potential competitor. If a client sees this, they could ask you questions about why you switched, or discover this new competitor if they'd never heard of it. Questions here cannot benefit your current employer, so your director wants to avoid any interaction between you and your company's clients that could hurt business.


Solution: do not comply.

  1. Don't wait to update your profile. You've already posited that your new boss could require it, so it's unlikely that your director will hold this against you.
  2. Don't disconnect from clients, especially the ones you're friendly with. Your director seems not to have thought this through, since disconnecting will likely worry clients even more than merely seeing that you left the company. In any case, maintaining connections with clients is important. The impact of having friendly connections with what would be a competitor's clients makes you a very valuable employee.

Don't worry about your director somehow attacking you or your reputation because you didn't do as he asked. This would be immature at best, but is easily maneuverable: if a potential employer sees a bad review by your current director, you have good relationships with clients to prove it wrong! This would reflect poorly only on your director.

You are leaving the company, after all; assuming you do so cordially, you need not comply with your director's requests, and there is very little chance of any (successful) retaliation.

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I agree for the most part, but it's worth being a little bit careful here as this case shows: theguardian.com/money/work-blog/2013/sep/24/… –  Dan Jan 27 at 10:41
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Thanks for this, though I don't believe that my director is fearful of competition; I'm moving to an unrelated field. He's worried that clients who deal with me directly will take their business elsewhere when I leave - I'm the only person at the company with the skillset to complete these jobs. –  Dan Hanly Jan 27 at 11:11
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@danielhanly.com As you said, that you're the only guy with the skillsets to service the "clients" your director wants you to remove from you connections - that must be the reason he is asking you to do that. He doesn't want for the clients to know that you're leaving. You're not obliged to acede to his request though, since professional connections, especially when they're good, can matter in future! –  Incognito Jan 27 at 12:43
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You should probably disconnect from your current director. That will make it harder for him to find out whether or not you have complied with his requests. –  DJClayworth Jan 27 at 16:52
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@DJClayworth, on the surface disconnecting from the director may sound like a solution. However, if the director subsequently looks at a clients' profile and sees that he is a 2nd-degree connection to the OP via that client, how much worse is it that the OP kept the client and "dissed" him? Whether the director is connected or disconnected, there currently doesn't seem to be a good way to firewall the information LinkedIn leaks about your connections IMHO. –  Mike Pennington Jan 30 at 4:28
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In my opinion, ANY company using their employees' social media accounts for their own business purposes is just a bad idea.

This shows that the company really doesn't understand the concept behind social media. Also, it has a somewhat-less-than-subtle overtone to it that the company somehow "owns" your identity. What they own is your communications with customers to date. That should have been handled entirely within the company's email / IM environment. If they let customers talk with employees through private social media accounts, then the company that allowed that is at fault.

Your social media identity is yours. No company, especially one you don't even work for any longer, should be telling you what to put on there or not to put on there.

Your current director is likely very insecure. Anyone who tries to "hide" an employee's leaving the company has issues with their customer management that they aren't admitting to themselves.

Likewise, I am concerned that your new job "Uses LinkedIn as part of their business." Are you setting yourself up for an even bigger problem in the future? Companies have LinkedIn presences, but using their employees' personal accounts to conduct business is a recipe for disaster. IANAL, but any IP Lawyer reading your question probably had his stomach flip a couple of times.

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Thanks for your answer. To clarify, I'm going to work for a company that is involved in social marketing; in this case removal of clients (if I was to leave the new company) would feel acceptable. At the moment, my current employer doesn't use LinkedIn at all, contacts I've made have either requested me or I've requested them and this is not part of a prior business arrangement. –  Dan Hanly Jan 27 at 16:43
    
Many recruiters' primary means of acquiring clients is via LinkedIn, so I disagree with your statement that "ANY company using their employees' social media accounts for their own business purposes is just a bad idea". –  Brian Jan 28 at 15:52
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And if that recruiter doesn't have them set up an account just for that position, they're a fool. –  Wesley Long Jan 28 at 17:32
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"By keeping my linkedin profile up to date, I prevent misunderstandings that might occur, for instance someone contacting me about your business when I no longer work here wouldn't be appropriate. If you continue to pay me as a consultant I will continue to keep you on as an employer alongside any other employers I'm working with, but it isn't a good idea for either of us."

"My contact list contains people I've actually worked with or know from my career, which spans businesses I've worked with before you, and will span businesses I work for after you. The contacts I've made are for the purpose of furthering my career, and thus there's no reason to discontinue them just because I'm taking a new position in a different company. If you feel there's a clear conflict of interest, open up a dialogue between yourself, me, and the other person and I'm certain we'll be able to resolve it without burning any bridges."

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Reading the link Dan provided this is obviously also a matter of national law.

For germany for example there was a ruling that (to my understanding) unless your employer can prove that your contacts only came to be in the name of the company (i.e. you couldn't possibly have any non-job-related personal interaction ever), they can't make you hand those over or disconnect.

Leaving an employer in your resume after you quit, might even be against the T's and C's of the respective site (I haven't actually checked but it's possible - akin to putting a fake name and the like).

But let's look at the benefits and downsides for you with possible combinations:

Keeping your old company listed as current employer and keeping your contacts:

Benefits:

  • You might end up being contacted by people looking for OldCo, possibly adding to business for NewCo
  • You keep your professional network value intact

Downsides:

  • You might make yourself vulnerable to legal action, because you may learn things that are confidential as customers might think you still work there
  • You might make yourself vulnerable to legal action from leading prospective clients to NewCo

Listing your new company name and removing all of OldCo's contacts:

Benefits:

  • Probably no danger of legal action

Downsides:

  • You lose and maybe alienate possible future references
  • You reduce your professional value, by shrinking your professional network

Listing the new company while keeping your contacts

Benefits:

  • You keep your references intact
  • You keep the value of your professional network up

Downsides:

  • Possible legal action, very much depending on where you are (do read up on this)

Conclusion

Since I make a habit of forming non-job-related connections (lunches, dinners, drinks) with my contacts, my conclusion always was to value my professional network over any possible company requests. That is, I made my contacts actually be my contacts and kept them that way, no matter where I went.

My suggestion would be you do the same, but like mentioned above, read up on legal implications first and make sure there are no precedents for your country, implying otherwise.

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My personal standpoint (a mantra, if you will), concerning LinkedIn, is to be described as: "You keep YOUR contacts in YOUR Contact List". This is why I don't add people to my LinkedIn that I don't actually know (hello recruiters).

As a consequence: if you change employer, you don't suddenly stop knowing those people, so they have every right to stay in your contact list.

Even more, if those customers actually know you, they won't suddenly forget your name in the case of you changing jobs !

It is quite the subjective topic though, so there's probably more than one "right way" to do this..

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Adding recruiters can be a very smart move. –  itcouldevenbeaboat Jan 27 at 17:26
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@itcouldevenbeaboat: I don't see how adding recruiters can help me (except making my employer nervous). Every x months there's a new one wanting to contact you with an interesting opportunity, but they refuse to offer up any details beforehand. If I'm comfortable at my employer, I'm gonna need more than a pretty face to make me change my mind. If I wanna leave, I just wait for the next one. –  Vincent Vancalbergh Jan 27 at 21:28
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It's not even worth adding them "just in case". They rotate in and out like crazy! –  Vincent Vancalbergh Jan 27 at 21:28
    
Hey Vincent, on Workplace SE, we strive to make each answer its own standalone answer. Thus, we shouldn't refer to another user's answer unless there's a specific point in that answer you want to highlight. I don't plan on removing your post, but expanding to explain why what you are saying is correct will help prevent downvotes on our site and may even reverse them. Hope this helps. –  jmort253 Jan 31 at 4:03
    
@jmort253. Thanks for the tip. It's true that I refer to Trojan's answer. But only because I didn't want to deny it as true. His answer is fine, I'm just offering a different viewpoint. Anyhow, even though I think my answer stands alone just fine, people might indeed be downvoting it for the wrong reasons. So I'll edit it. –  Vincent Vancalbergh Jan 31 at 10:50
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Dan, after going through all the answers and comments that you have made w.r.t those :

  1. Since you and your previous boss are in good terms, its better to not use to your current profile for social marketing purpose.

  2. Regardless of the fact whether your old boss wants you to remove contacts or not, the new firm shouldn't be using your personal account for social marketing. While using employees personal account would benefit by providing lots of leads, this can get messy when you want to move on from this firm(i believe everyone will move on to better jobs at one point of their career). And at this time, the firm may actually try and own your account since all the recent works were done using your account. So in the end its always good to create a new account for the company purpose and you can simply use the company mail and they can do whatever they want when you leave to another firm.

  3. You should always think about your future and you never know, some clients maybe with a firm just because you are there and they value your work and not the company. And when you leave, more often than not, the client also tend to follow you. This if you track and follow-up properly can get you extremely good additional income.

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Thanks for your answer. Regarding point 2, I feel I may have led you astray. Basically, my profile wont be used for social marketing, but there are people within the company who do this. I may be expected to join up with the company (set my position) in order to demonstrate company cohesion. My personal account is mine to do with as I please. –  Dan Hanly Jan 27 at 23:08
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