LinkedIn: think before you sync!

Right now LinkedIn is the darling of the business world and rightfully so. It is the professional’s social network that, I believe, virtually everyone should be taking advantage of — lawyers and clients alike — though not with reckless abandon.

One of the nifty features about it is that when you sign up it gives you the option to sync all of your existing Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, etc. contacts with your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn then “reaches out” to those contacts and, if they are already on LinkedIn, sends invitations for them to connect with you; if they are not, it sends them invitations to join LinkedIn and then connect with you. Once connected, these connections are visible from your profile.

Sounds great, right? Sure, in most cases. But, what about those professionals and businesses who claim that their customers and contact lists are trade secrets?

What is a trade secret?

We’re all familiar with what a Coke tastes like, right? Or Colonel Sanders‘ famous Kentucky Fried Chicken with its 11 herbs and spices?

Colonel Sanders is the official face of KFC, a...
Image via Wikipedia

But do you know exactly what the formula is for Coke or the recipe with those 11 herbs and spices? Nope, and neither do I. They are trade secrets. One of the most basic requirements for something to be protected as trade secret is that it be kept secret — not set out for everyone in the world to see on the Internet! That is, if the Coca-Cola formula or the Colonel’s recipe were displayed on their LinkedIn profile, they wouldn’t be trade secrets anymore.

So the question is, what does that mean to you if you or your business believe that your contact lists are proprietary trade secrets? You better think before you sync!

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