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Yes, It’s Possible to Protect Your Privacy (and Your Connections’ Privacy) on LinkedIn

by Maggie Graham, MEd, CPCC

Most of my clients want to know how to use LinkedIn to expand their presence and cross paths with as many people as possible. After all, when you’re in a job search or you’re growing a business, the more, the merrier tends to be the approach.

Enter the exceptions:

  • wariness about wading into the social media realm (no matter how familiar you are with social media, it’s pretty clear that it’s a quagmire)
  • reluctance due to concerns about identity theft (according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2014, just about 7% of people 16 and older experienced identity theft)
  • fear due to safety concerns (I’ve worked with more than one person who had been the victim of stalking)

Mercifully, LinkedIn has rolled out one key change that makes it easy to connect with recruiters during a job search while masking the fact that you’re in a search from people in your LinkedIn network. Plus, there are several privacy settings on LinkedIn that give you control over who sees what.

In the accompanying video, we review the key features on LinkedIn that protect your privacy, including:

LinkedIn Feature: Two step verification for access to your account
Why it's Useful: Lessens the risk that an unauthorized person (or bot) can sign in to your account and hack your content and/or use it to gain access to others in your network

LinkedIn Feature: Settings for who can view your profile
Why it's Useful: Restricts access to information you’ve displayed on your profile, including your photo (which I strongly recommend you display if you’re in a job search or building your business – data shows that people are 14% more likely to view your profile if you display your photo)

LinkedIn Feature: Setting for who views your connections
Why it's Useful: Extends courtesy to people in your network so that no one uses you to gain access to someone in your sphere without your knowledge and permission

LinkedIn Feature: Setting for displaying your last name
Why it's Useful: Gives you the option of showing your last name or simply displaying the initial of your last name

LinkedIn Feature: Options for blocking specific people
Why it's Useful: Offers you some protection from interacting with people you prefer to avoid (including ex’s and people who aren’t being courteous on LinkedIn – I’ll also show you how to report these people)

LinkedIn Feature: Signal to recruiters that you’re in a job search
Why it's Useful: Provides you with the opportunity to communicate to recruiters that you’re open to new opportunities without having to use valuable real estate in your Headline and Summary and also without risk of someone at your current place of employment finding out that you’re looking

No matter what your comfort level is with your LinkedIn profile, you have some latitude in how you tweak your controls. Go wild with your networking and throw yourself into this platform (I often call it a playground because I use it so often) or wade in slowly and test out the waters. Fortunately, LinkedIn is available to you on your terms.