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If you for instance are planning to change jobs, but have not yet divulged this intent to anyone within your company, is it acceptable to connect with clients and colleagues in partner companies in business-oriented social/professional networks (e.g. LinkedIn)?

Assumptions:

  • As a result of your increased activity, your clients and colleagues would be able to figure out that you were planning to change jobs before your home company.
  • You are not connected to anyone within your home company, so they would be oblivious to your activity on LinkedIn.

The intent of connecting would be to expand one's network and hopefully get skills endorsed, and perhaps a few favorable reviews. The intent is not in any way to get a job with clients or partners.


This question is not a duplicate of the linked question "Do managers monitor employees' LinkedIn connection activity?", as it asks about connecting with recruiters, whereas this question is asking about connecting with colleagues and clients.

This question is also not a question whether or not the home company would realize any intents to change jobs. It is assumed that they will.

  • What are you doing to "connect" with your clients and partners that then conveys the intent to change jobs? Can't you connect with the same people without giving off this intent? I connect with tons of people and nobody ever accuses me of looking for work... what are you doing? – Nelson Oct 3 '16 at 5:58
  • I didn't give the -1, but this question is highly subjective and vague. – Nelson Oct 3 '16 at 5:59
  • @Nelson thank you for the feedback (I don't mind the downvote, I'm just here for an answer). I think it would be obvious to clients and partners who I connect with, as I'm essentially polishing my resume; something that has no obvious benefit besides helping me get a new job. It is also very sudden; I have been in contact with the clients and partners in question for months and years, but never connected with them through these networking sites before. – anon Oct 3 '16 at 6:10
  • What exactly are you doing? Giving out your resume to your clients and partners? That's clearly a problem because you'll be trying to get jobs with them. You then say that you're not doing that, so what are you doing? Connecting with people is very simple. You go "Hi, I know you from XYZ. Can I connect with you?" and people click "Yes" or ignore you... and that's it. Your fears do not make sense, or you're not really telling people what you are doing. I'm hoping you're not asking your clients and partners to proofread your resume... there're better people for that. – Nelson Oct 3 '16 at 6:13
  • @Nelson you are correct in understanding what I am doing (simply connecting). It is what people (inevitably) will read into it that I am worried about. What is connecting with people, if not indirectly generating more exposure to and improving the look and validity of your resume? The profile essentially is a resume, isn't it? I am trying to make it look better so that I can present it to unrelated third-party employers. If you are of the opinion that I am worrying for nothing, then I believe that is a valid answer. – anon Oct 3 '16 at 6:19
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Nothing wrong with connecting socially with people outside your company. There may be a potential conflict of interest in some cases further down the track, but that still doesn't stop you socialising.

One thing I am very careful about in such situations is never to say anything bad about my work or workplace. This can backfire badly and I've seen people get sacked, anything you put online is potentially accessible by anyone.

It can also work both ways, people who you have connected with might decide it's a conflict of interest on their behalf if they back you when you apply for a job. I certainly would. Just because I have a contact online doesn't mean I'd endorse them, and it may well mean I don't want them any closer than my computer monitor.