For all the work that I do to build strong connections with my customers and prospective customers, and the nearly 24 x 7 work that I do to maintain that strong communication bond, it turns out that the employer may own the contact that I have built, massaged and strengthened over a period of years in some cases! While I am not completely surprised, I would say that this is just not 100% accurate.
In a recent article over at Business Matters UK titled When does a social media contact belong to the business? it is stated that the question of who owns your Social Media Contacts may very well come to light in the near future. In the case of LinkedIn, the company can not lay claim to the Account or request the username or password as it violates the Terms of Service to have a company sponsored LinkedIn Account as they are established on a personal basis.
However, the company can lay claim to the hundreds of connections that you have worked so diligently at harvesting, maintaining and growing because for the most part, these connections were built from and around the company data base of accounts and as such are a company asset. I for one do take some offense to this as my contact details and relationships that I have built through Social Media are for the most part built outside of the hours that I work and get paid for…during work hours I may spend 1-2% of my day building my LinkedIn Network, the rest of it is done during time that I do not get paid!
In conversations that I have had with other colleagues and Social Media “Experts” this holds true for most professionals. Their Social Connections while work related are a way of maintaining communications outside of the normal work routine, and are used to strengthen the bond between two professionals.
Look to your company’s Social Media Policy, read it carefully to ensure that this information is included. Who owns those contacts? It may all boil down to what is written in the policy!
Chris J Powell