14 Jun 2013
There are 3 Settings to choose from when deciding how others see you on LinkedIn after you’ve browsed their Profile. This article examines the ANONYMOUS setting and explains why this option can come back to bite you if you don’t know how to use it.
You can opt between 3 settings in ‘Privacy & Settings’ – Profile – Privacy Controls – ‘Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile’.
(1) *FULL: “Your name and headline (Recommended)”
(2) *PARTIAL: “Anonymous profile characteristics such as industry and title”
(3) *HIDDEN: “You will be totally anonymous.”
These are my *descriptions and LinkedIn does not define them.
FULL is self explanatory and the default setting – if you join LinkedIn and never mess with this Setting, you will always be identified by your Name & Headline. It’s recommended by LinkedIn because it’s designed to maximize engagement between users:
PARTIAL can be fairly specific OR incredibly vague, depending on how you’ve filled in your Profile (Headline) but can be clicked, for example:
HIDDEN always looks the same and your footprint cannot be clicked:
ANONYMITY CAN BE TEMPORARY
You may have perfectly good reasons for being Anonymous when you surf Profiles on LinkedIn and it’s none of my business why you would want to but you ought to be aware that Anonymity can be fleeting and you run the real risk of being exposed. Here’s the scenario – you decide to cloak yourself in Anonymity and change the appropriate Setting before you go and browse. You feel confident that no one you browse can identify you and you’d be correct. Except that you then go back to your settings and switch back to showing your Name & Headline. If you then visit the same Profile you Browsed Anonymously, LinkedIn will switch your previous Anonymous footprint to your Name & Headline. The lesson? Browse Anonymously forever but if you decide to stop being Anonymous, don’t re-visit the Profiles you browsed when you were HIDDEN. LinkedIn currently allows paid users to see 90 days of browsing activity.
I’M NOT PARTIAL
When you opt for the Anonymous profile characteristics (PARTIAL), you’re neither identifying yourself nor being Anonymous. Because your footprint can be clicked, you’re leading a not so merry chase. It’s an odd way to do business and does you no favors. There’s a technique which could feasibly track you down (see my earlier blog post Useful LinkedIn Hack: Identify Your Semi-Anonymous Browser By Screenshot) and a person you browsed could simply click on all 10 potential partial browsers (including you) and you’d think that your identity had been revealed. My advice? – go FULL and reap the potential rewards of being found on a network of 225m+ professionals.
I’VE STARTED A CAMPAIGN (GROUP)
LinkedIn Anonymous browsers have the right to protect their identity but I also believe people who don’t want to be browsed anonymously also have that right. One could argue that anonymous browsers have an unfair advantage over folks who identify themslelves. There is an imbalance of power. Being Anonymous on a ‘social’ platform is an oddity, creates friction and wastes time & opportunity. I regard the notification that someone Anonymous has browsed me as spam. I think it’s high time that LinkedIn should allow its users the option of blocking Anonymous browsers. If you agree – please join a special campaign Group I recently set up to advocate for this change:
Campaign Against ANONYMOUS Browsing
If you do nothing, then nothing will change.
ROI (Return On Investment)
LinkedIn shows all of its users how many times their Profile has been viewed and searched. Paid users can see up to 90 days worth of views and they can see which key words on their Profile led to searches. I’ve written about the important difference between these two metrics and I’ve explained why you should be focusing on views rather than searches to measure your success in my recent blog post: “Measure Your LinkedIn ROI With Views Not Searches”
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That’s all from me for this week. If you found this post useful, don’t keep it all to yourself. Go ahead and share this article with your own network (see those buttons on the sliding thing on the left?). They’ll thank you for it.