How to Manage Your LinkedIn Network Post-Employment or Consulting

How to Manage Your LinkedIn Network Post-Employment offers concise advice for taking the right Connections with you, and how to bow out of the others.

Manage Your LinkedIn Network Post-Employment[UPDATED] One of the key principles of the “Executive’s Guides” is that people need to create networks of trusted people that are independent of organization if they want to maximize their careers in the 21st century. In other words, an executive’s network is his/hers. It doesn’t belong to any company.

Moreover, when you start a new job or consulting assignment, you don’t know where the bodies are buried, and you don’t know who’s on the level with your new colleagues or engagement sponsors.

You don’t have much time to move the ball. Who are you going to lean on for their peripheral vision?

Your LinkedIn network. Therefore, here are a few rules I advise people to follow when separation occurs.

Quick Checklist for Separating from an Employer or Client

You have just gotten a new job, have been laid off or have just separated from a consulting client. How do you manage the transition from a LinkedIn perspective? Here’s a quick list:

  • Review your LinkedIn connections from the company. Do they include people you connected to for political reasons? People you wouldn’t normally connect to? Disconnect from them. Ditto for the “extended enterprise” of partners, etc.
  • Review who’s left. Think about what kind of relationship you want, post-separation. Write a short note to each person, saying you want to keep in touch and saying that you are interested in helping them. Suggest how you might help them, and be as specific as possible. Do this for the most important people.
  • There may be other people on the list whom you know less well. Review their profiles, especially Groups discussions in which they’ve participated (if you are also a member of those Groups). Google their names (enclose within quotes to make a phrase, i.e. “christopher s. rollyson”), review their Twitter and Google+ accounts. What are they interested in, how can you imagine helping them?
  • Realize that, since you’re now out of the organization, you are less restricted, and you can develop relationships more freely. No longer assume, as before, because someone sits in such-and-such business unit, you can’t or must collaborate with them. At the same time, they are still in the organization. You can become a catalyst and even more valuable to them outside the company. Use your mobility and openness to your advantage.
  • Post-separation, there are people you knew the best and people you may not have known that well but whom you liked, trusted or whom you’d like to know better. Keep them apprised about your plans. Ask for their advice when using LinkedIn messages, email, Quora or industry-specific forums. Share tidbits of market insight, once a quarter or so, using LinkedIn messages.
  • An emotional note: guard against being “needy” if job searching or looking for other contracts. Be clean by realizing nobody owes you anything.
  • Remember, when you disconnect from people, LinkedIn doesn’t notify them. They won’t know unless they look in their connections list and specifically look for you. You won’t be there, and they won’t be able to see your profile.

Parting Shots

  • If you have some “down time,” this is an excellent time to conduct a LinkedIn Network Review. In other words, follow the same process for your whole LI network. It’s like a garden that needs periodic pruning. More on this here: Reclaiming Your LinkedIn Network.
  • Another invaluable tool I developed is the Relationship Value Map, which helps you manage much larger networks well.
  • This is also an opportunity to expand your network in the company because you are no longer constrained to a consulting engagement or a job function. Your keycard now is adding relevant value and not being pushy. The better you can answer the question, “How can I help him/her?” the more mobile you can be.
  • The smartest companies will help you to do this. See Alumni 2.0—Employer-Employee Realignment.

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