How Do I Make a Private LinkedIn Profile?

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I was a little confused when I received this question 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 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.

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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.

About the Author:

Neal Schaffer, Founder and Editor-In-Chief

The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professional strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professional strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

@nealschaffer

Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker | 日米ソーシャルメディア専門家|G+: https://t.co/BqaJvubiP8
How much has social media changed elections? http://t.co/2s6T6BTniL via @mqtodd - 3 hours ago
Neal Schaffer
Social Fresh West

Comments

  1. Neal Schaffer says

    Steven,

    I agree with you completely. But for someone that is concerned about their privacy or emails, it is good to know that there are some things you can do to tweak things.

    - Neal

  2. Manish Dhane says

    It is the biggest professional network on the internet and instead of creating private profile we have to protect its reputation by being professional.

  3. says

    My problem with LinkedIn is that I signed on and it immediately sent emails to everyone in my address list inviting them to connect with me. And there was no way for me to see to whom emails had been sent. The widow of a close friend who had died got one sent to her late husband!

    How can I make sure that NO emails are sent from my PC without my specifically authorizing that email?

    • says

      Thanks for the input William, and this is something that I have heard others say as well. The only way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to not upload your email address book and instead try to find connections through searching at common companies you worked at or schools you went to. If you’ve already uploaded your database, one thing that might work is to try to upload a new blank one (from a dummy account) and see if that “blanks out” the previous list. Either way, hope you find a solution to your problem.

  4. says

    I’ve always felt a little antsy about joining LinkedIn. Tell me that I can set up a professional profile and I won’t get stalked by crazies, but will get all kinds of benefits and valuable contacts!!

    • says

      You can set up a professional profile and get benefits and contacts should you use LinkedIn wisely, but anytime you put up a profile on the Internet, you are bound to get contacted by others. That being said, there are ways of limiting how those people can contact you, and compared to Facebook, I would like to believe there are fewer crazies on LinkedIn ;-) Hope the info helps!

  5. MGR says

    I want to make my profile private. I dont want my boss to see my profile. :( Indeed can you do it. I havent added him on my connections Yet. Please help

  6. RM says

    Steps to make your profile private:

    Point your mouse on “Accounts & Settings” on the top right corner.
    Click on “Privacy & Settings”
    Click on “Edit your Public Profile”
    Click on “Make my public profile visible to no one”

    Now your profile is private

  7. Elle says

    The reason why I don’t have a public LinkedIn account:

    This is going to sound completely crazy for someone working in HR:
    However, this is a rare case, and since I’ve remained a non-social media private person. I was once stalked by a complete stranger at a previous job. He was able to obtain my personal info and stalked me at my residence. I think I will be forever traumatized by this so it is difficult to want to publish my current employer on the internet. We were able to arrest him however, I heard he was released. I don’t want this type of thing to happen to anyone else.

    Again this is a rare case. (Most companies nowadays have security to escort you to your car)

    • says

      Thank you for your comment – and you are one of the rare cases where I recommend you DON’T have a LinkedIn account: When your safety is at risk. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  8. Lisa says

    I can’t see how to stop my details coming up in the LinkedIn search. My public profile’s set to ‘off’ so it doesn’t come up in search engines but my name & profile are still visible through the internal search. Is there an option to switch this off?! Thanks

    • says

      Hi Lisa, unfortunately not, as LinkedIn is a social network so hiding yourself would be the opposite of why it exists, right? What you can do is to hide your photo, activity feed, et. al., but unless you change your name and location, you’re going to continue to appear in LinkedIn searches. This is no different than being on Facebook, Twitter, et. al., although LinkedIn doesn’t have the privacy settings inside its network as others have…

  9. Neal Schaffer says

    Steven,

    I agree with you completely. But for someone that is concerned about their privacy or emails, it is good to know that there are some things you can do to tweak things.

    - Neal

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