LinkedIn Contacts – Who Owns Them?

Do your employees use LinkedIn to network during the course of business?

Given that there are 15 million LinkedIn members in the UK, the likelihood that these include your employees building their networks for commercial gain is high. So what happens when one of your employees leaves, jumping ship to a close competitor, do you wave goodbye to those contacts? Do you have any right to them?

As with all social media the line between professional and personal is a very fine one, and these contacts fall into a murky middle ground. So there are certain things you should bear in mind if you are encouraging your employees to use LinkedIn in company time.

Personal Account

A LinkedIn personal account is just that, personal and belongs to the owner. The account holder must be a real person, not a made-up fake persona as possible on other platforms; and they are responsible for ensuring their profile details are honest and correct.

Many professionals will maintain their profile and make connections to a greater or lesser extent. However those with any form of sales remit will use the platform to identify and make valuable new business contacts.

Social Media Policy

Most employers realise that there are significant opportunities to be gained by encouraging staff to use social media to increase their network of contacts online, but haven’t taken control and put procedures in place to protect their business when an employee leaves. Slowly the principles of contact data ownership are being established and challenged in court.

To protect yourself I would recommend seeking legal guidance to clarify your situation and establish a social media policy so that all employees are clear of the situation. This should also cover the do’s and don’ts of using the social channels and what is and isn’t acceptable.

Safe Guard Company Contacts

To double your protection and ensure you hang onto those golden contacts when your employee walks out the door, make sure that you maintain a database outside of LinkedIn on an IT system owned by the company; and have a system in place for ensuring the database is used and kept up to date. That way you won’t loose key names, contact numbers and email addresses.

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