Well, you don’t actually have to ‘give up’ on your privacy, but it is definitely a good idea to set your LinkedIn privacy settings to support the goals you are trying to accomplish with the network.
If you want to use LinkedIn as the digital equivalent of your Rolodex, keeping your LinkedIn privacy settings at ‘maximum protection’ is OK. If you want to use LinkedIn to grow your network, personal brand and success, loosening your privacy settings will definitely help!
Consider this: LinkedIn is a social network. It is a place where you can meet and connect with interesting people and where you can build your personal brand.
Why then would you want to hide anything from the people you want to connect with? Is there anything on your profile that ‘strangers’ should not see?
Of course there isn’t! Therefore it may be a good idea to share your LinkedIn profile and your status updates with the world. Sharing this information will greatly improve your online visibility, findability and chances of success.
Set your LinkedIn privacy settings to support your goals
Then hover over your small profile picture in the upper right corner of your LinkedIn home page and click ‘Privacy and Settings’. You will see a control panel that looks like this:
From this panel, you can take the following actions to increase your visibility and findability:
1. Turn on/off your activity broadcasts
Your activity broadcasts are updates that appear in your activity feed when you update your profile, make recommendations or follow companies and thought leaders. Your connections see your updates in the activity feeds on their personal LinkedIn home pages.
There are 2 valid reasons why you may want to (temporarily) turn off your activity broadcasts:
You are looking for a new job and you don’t want your current employer to see that you are updating your profile and that you are connecting with competitors or recruiters.
You want to adjust a minor detail (a typo, a small fact) on your LinkedIn profile and you don’t want to draw the attention of your connections.
If none of these reasons apply to you, please turn on your activity broadcasts. It will greatly increase your visibility on LinkedIn because you will appear on your connections’ home pages frequently.
If your connections ‘see’ you on a regular basis, you stay top of mind. And if you stay top of mind, you increase your chances of receiving or hearing about interesting opportunities.
Note: It goes without saying, but please don’t spam your network by sharing too many profile and status updates per day! This will do more harm than good. And as always, please be careful with the information and the opinions you share on LinkedIn. Make sure that your profile and your updates support your professional brand.
2. Select who can see your activity feed
You have 4 choices here: ‘only you’, ‘your connections’, ‘your network’ or ‘everyone’ can see your activity feed. Unless you want to play hide and seek on LinkedIn (and the internet), select ‘everyone’.
Again, be careful with the content you share on LinkedIn. Make sure that your activity feed supports your professional goals and that it cannot be used against you.
3. Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile
You can select how much information you want to give away when you view someone else’s LinkedIn profile. Select ‘Your name and headline’ here to use other people’s vanity to your advantage!
Consider this: If you get notified that someone viewed your profile, don’t you want to know who viewed it? Of course you do!
And what do you do when the other person has disclosed his or her details? Exactly: you check his or her profile.
This is a great tip to connect with interesting people who you don’t really know yet: View someone’s profile and check whether the other person visits your profile in the next few days. If the other person does, you can send him/her a request to connect. By this time, the other person knows who you are and he/she will probably want to know why you viewed his/her profile in the first place.
4. Select who can see your connections
Please share the details of your connections with your connections! This is the essence of networking: it is great to meet interesting people, but it is even more rewarding to get others in touch.
If you act as a liason between two people who need each other, you will earn reciprocity and goodwill from two parties! This may benefit you in the future.
5. Change your profile photo & visibility
Please don’t keep your profile photo just for your connections or your network. Share your profile picture with ‘everyone’ instead. This way you will also increase your visibility and findability in the search results of Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
6. Show/hide « Viewers of this profile also viewed » box
Please show this box on your profile. It is a great way for others to meet other interesting people in your network. Again, if you act as a liaison between two parties, you may earn goodwill from both parties!
7. Edit your public profile
Last but not least, click « edit your public profile » and tick all the boxes on the next page. This will open up your profile for the entire world and it will massively increase your online visibility, findability and chances of receiving interesting business opportunities.
On this page, you can also customize your public profile URL. With a public profile URL, you can refer to your public LinkedIn profile with e.g. www.linkedin.com/in/yourname instead of www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=12.
This looks more professional and it is easier to remember. In addition, if you use your name as illustrated above, your LinkedIn profile will rank higher in Google’s search results when others search for your name.
What if you still want to protect your privacy on LinkedIn?
There is nothing wrong with that! In fact, it is a good thing to protect your privacy. You should always be careful with the information you give away on the internet. Especially on social networks such as LinkedIn.
Instead of setting your LinkedIn privacy settings to ‘maximum protection’, please consider optimizing your privacy settings so that they support the goals that you are trying to accomplish. Otherwise you may miss out on the best features that LinkedIn has to offer.
So it is entirely up to you!
If you want to use LinkedIn as the digital equivalent of your Rolodex, keeping your privacy settings at maximum ‘protection’ is OK. However, if you keep your profile and/or your status updates private to your connections, it will be harder for others to find you and it will require more effort from you to grow your network.
So if you want to use LinkedIn to grow your network, personal brand and success, optimizing your LinkedIn privacy settings with the tips in this article will definitely support your goals.
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