Hi all, i am digesting a potential conflict of interest regarding potential connections on LinkedIn. 

i have close contacts at 2 large competing multi-nationals and my moral compass is spinning as to weather i should make connections with individuals from both companies. 

Can this lead to professional suicide?

Thoughts and advice are very welcome. 


thanks, Shane. 

BZOpportunityManagement's picture

Depends on the connections you are making. If you have a rather diverse network (both personal and professional) you are going to have contacts at a wide range of companies, including direct competitors. I do not view it as a negative to have those connections - you just need to manage them in your interactions in a professional way that does not lead to any specific conflicts of interest. But just being connected/friendly with a person at the competition shouldn't be an issue (if it was, I think pretty much everyone's LinkedIn profile in the government contracting community would get them into trouble).

williamelledgepe's picture
Training Badge

I would expect you have multiple contacts from competing firms.  The vary nature of the workplace requires our network reach through multiple companies.  For more than a decade, I worked for one multi-national and nurtered network connections at competing firms - both on LinkedIn and in person.  It has actually been a benefit to my career - and no conflicts of interest due to the connections or friendships.  

SuzanneB's picture

If you are planning to pass trade secrets between them you have a conflict. Knowing individuals that work at different companies (even competitors) is common. I have linkedin contacts who work for my company's #1 competitor. We know each other. We have a professional relationship.

Is there something we are missing that would make you concerned?

shane_bell's picture

If i were to be more specific, both of these multinationals are clients of our business and one of these clients is not overly impressed we are working for the other. There is absolutley no question about trading information, I am bound by heavy confidentiallity agreements and my moral compass wont let me even consider it. The impression i dont want to give is that having connections with both clients would somewhat make it look like I was sharing or potentially sharing informtion as I have close connections in all areas, design, operations and management of both clients. Sort of being between a rock and a hard place. 

Thanks again for the valuable input.  


rdjfraser's picture
Licensee Badge

LinkedIn allows you to not share who you are connected too. If you are using it to develop relationships that does not necessarily require others to see who you are connected too. You could simply not allow others to explore you contacts so you don't feel worried about their perceptions. 

wittensworld's picture

I personally can't see any issue with this and do you really think that others are looking at your connections and making assumptions?

I'd look at who other, more senior people within your business are connected with. You might find that others are happily connecting with just about anyone.

I guess the other question to ask yourself is what you're aiming to achieve by connecting with these people - is there a specific reason and is it important enough to risk your reputation within your current business? To be honest, if that sort of thing does have that affect within your business then seeking a role in an alternative would be my choice!

Hope this helps.



shane_bell's picture

I feel much better about it now. thanks all for the advice. Understanding the whole point is to make connections and keep in contact with my connections is the aim of the game, its not a social standing where others would somewhat judge you by who you connect with.