I was a little confused when I received this question about LinkedIn privacy settings recently from a former colleague. I mean, LinkedIn is really about getting plugged-in to a huge database of professionals. Why would you want to be part of this huge network but not want anyone to see your profile? I suppose that for some, the ability to find far outweighs the benefits of being found, so this may shed some light on his request. Or perhaps it was the reception of “spam” mails like invitations to connect, join this group, take this poll, etc. that caused my colleague to want to do this?
Regardless of the reason, and in light of the recent changes made by LinkedIn for “privacy” reasons, it is a good time to look at how to keep your profile as private as possible. Have you recently looked at the LinkedIn Settings page, which you can access in the upper right-hand corner of your home page? It really contains everything to customize your experience. Let’s see what is possible here vis a vis privacy settings, both in the display of your profile as well as minimizing email contact from other LinkedIn members:
- You have a “Public Profile” option that you can turn off, meaning that if someone is not a member and finds your public profile you will not be visible.
- You can keep your Status visible to only your connections in “Status Visibility”
- You can keep your LinkedIn connections private in “Connections Visibility”
- You can completely shut off your Network Feed in “Member Feed Visibility”. Updates of any actions that you perform on will go nowhere.
- In “Contact Settings” you can decide not to receive InMails, which will give you a little more privacy. Of course, if you don’t want to receive emails from anyone outside of your network, don’t join any LinkedIn Groups, and if you do make sure that under the Settings for each group that you have indicated that you don’t want to receive Messages from other Group members nor Announcements from the Group Manager. All of your Groups can be accessed from the “User Groups” link in the right-hand navigation bar.
- In “Receiving Messages” you can tell LinkedIn to send you no emails and allow yourself the freedom to view what you want when you want on the Web.
- “Invitation Filtering” will allow you to narrow down the invitations that you receive to just those that you had previously imported in LinkedIn or that and a combination of those that know your actual email address. This will prevent random people from sending you an invitation assuming that you do not list your email address in your profile.
- “Group Invitation Filtering” allows you to prevent anyone sending you a group invitation.
- On “Name & Location” you can decide to display the initial of your last name instead of the complete name (i.e. Neal Schaffer becomes Neal S.)
- There are “Research Surveys” targeting your demographic that may be sent to you unless you indicate that you do not want to receive them.
- “Profile Views” will control what, if any, information about you is displayed in the “Who’s Viewed My Profile” of profiles that you visit.
- Whenever you make a profile update, a new recommendation, or a status update the default is that the information will be broadcast to your network on their Home Pages. You can turn this off in “Profile and Status Updates”.
- LinkedIn is building out a Service Provider Directory, and if you are recommended as a Service Provider you will be listed in that Directory. If you want to make sure you are not, please do so in “Service Provider Directory”.
- There is a “Partner Sites” option that allows you to tell LinkedIn NOT to use your private information to present you targeted information (or advertising) on other sites such as NYTimes.com.
As you can see, there is quite a bit that you can do to keep your profile semi-private as well as to cut down emails that you might not be interested in. The scary part is that a lot of the default settings that I found here are not respectful of your privacy, so if this is your thing, make sure to look at the above items and make sure that the settings are aligned with your LinkedIn policy.
In summary, you can cut down on most if not all of the emails that you receive from LinkedIn, but it is impossible to have a completely private profile. That being said, there are many things you can do to minimize who gets access to your information.