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Life used to be so much simpler on LinkedIn. Settings in particular have become so byzantine, complex and confusing, I decided to write this easy to follow guide to explain, simplify and show you specifically what to focus on, if you only had minutes to spare.

LinkedIn settings has always had 4 main tabs, ‘Profile‘, ‘Email Preferences‘, ‘Groups, Companies & Applications‘ and ‘Account‘ in 2012.

Email Preferences‘ became ‘Communications‘ in 2014.

And in 2017 ‘Profile‘ and ‘Groups, Companies & Applications‘ vanished and two new tabs ‘Privacy‘ and ‘Ads‘ appeared.

In 2012 there were 38 settings you could change. By 2015 this had grown to 44 and currently (2018) there are 66. That’s 74% more settings than in 2012!

Why have LinkedIn settings become so bloated? Mainly to give LinkedIn cover – it’s hard to complain about anything on the platform if there’s a setting which the user, ostensibly has control over. I am the “Boss” of my account, as LinkedIn puts it.

Privacy has always been a touchy topic on LinkedIn; privacy settings have ballooned from 9 in 2012, to 27 settings currently (a 200% increase), heck they even named a whole tab after it! The Microsoft acquisition has also resulted in new settings (related to Outlook and MS Word/Resume Assistant) and innovative new features on LinkedIn (for example ‘typing indicator’ in messenger and ‘active status’ on desktop/mobile) have further swollen the array of choices.

There are a lots of different ways I could have structured this guide but I figured that if I broke it into time-to-action segments, it would work for most readers. I’ve therefore identified settings you should check, set and forget if you only had 5 minutes or so to spare, and settings which would require a little more of your precious time, approximately 10-20 minutes.

2. Phone numbers
Add a telephone number as an alternative way to get back into your account, if your password is not working, tick the ‘Use for password reset’ box. You can add more than one phone number.

5. Two-step verification
Using your phone as an extra layer of security, two-step verification helps ensure that no one else can log into your LinkedIn account, even if someone knows your password.

17. Edit your public profile
Personalize your LinkedIn URL, ensure that ‘Your profile’s public visibility’ is ‘On’, choose ‘Public’ for Profile Photo. Turn all other buttons to ‘Show’ and ‘Yes’. In a nutshell, you are maximizing your visibility, showing everything on your profile to the world via the web. Your public profile is what people can search, find and view via web browsers, without having to log into LinkedIn. German and Chinese browsers will be able to see it translated in their language.

19. Who can see your connections
By choosing ‘Your connections’ you’re letting those connected with you see inside your network. If you choose ‘Only you’, you are the gatekeeper but your connections could do the same to you. I prefer to show who I know.

20. Viewers of this profile also viewed
This is confusingly called PAV (People Also Viewed) on your profile. I switch it off because it shows a random set of 10 profiles adjacent to my professional brand and changes multiple times per month. I suggest you do the same.

21. Who can see your last name
I want to be easily found and identified. I expect that you also prefer not to hide – on the largest professional networking site in the World.

25. Profile viewing options
When I browse other profiles, I want people to know that I visited. If you prefer to remain ‘Private’ (anonymous), that’s also an option. The middle option ‘Private profile characteristics’ is for people who can’t make their mind up.

26. Manage active status
This is a relatively new feature which shows other users when you are active on LinkedIn. Active status is represented by a solid green dot to indicate you are active on Desktop and a green circle to show you are active on the LinkedIn mobile app. I think on balance it’s helpful to show if you are present/available or not, so I’ve decided to share my status with everyone.

60. Who can send you invitations
LinkedIn recommends ‘Everyone’ and I agree, make it easy for people to connect with you. You can always ignore the request if you don’t want to connect.

4. Where you’re signed in
It’s a good idea to check where you have accessed your account, if you don’t recognize the approximate location, sign out of that session. If that location, or another one you don’t recognize pops up again, change your password and set two factor authentication, someone other than you could be in your account. Lock them out permanently. I had 6 active sessions. I recognized 2 from a recent vacation, 2 were my mobile devices and the other 2 were my Mac and laptop. I closed the 2 vacation sessions.

10. Name, location, and industry
Your name is self explanatory, don’t add anything but your name since that could get you in trouble with LinkedIn’s Profile Police. Choose the location that makes sense for you, choose one of the listed industries (there are 147 to choose from).

13. Permitted Services
You may wish to grant access to other software services from time to time, this section allows you to remove them. Obviously, ensure that you trust the software provider with your data. It’s on you and not LinkedIn if anything goes wrong.

18. Who can see your email address
I’m open to email communication and I want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact me, whether we are connected or not. This has not resulted in a deluge of spam because I use email management software (i.e and effective anti-spam tools. Choose your comfort level. 

23. Profile visibility off LinkedIn
This is similar to having a public profile on the web, except this setting allows your profile to be seen externally within other LinkedIn/Microsoft approved software, for example Outlook and Yahoo Mail, Calendar or Contacts, Apple mail, Cortana and Evernote. LinkedIn will share your data with their partners, if you say ‘Yes’. 

29. Mentions by others
Mentions (or tags) are a way of notifying other users when you mention them by name in public LinkedIn areas. You can tag someone by typing @ before their name. The LinkedIn system is now smart enough to predict who you may want to mention/tag (i.e the post author). I allow people to mention/tag me, keeps me informed. It’s very obvious when someone doesn’t allow tagging, their name is grey and can’t be clicked. You can turn tagging off for all mentions in this setting, or for a specific discussion/post within the post itself (look for tiny 3 dots, top right and click ‘@ Remove mention’).

30. Download your data
It’s good practice to download your profile data every 3 months, this way you have a back up and if you want, you can put your info to work. Just sensible data housekeeping. I choose ‘The works’.

57. Notifications on LinkedIn
You could get swamped by notifications on LinkedIn, so spending a few minutes here to fine-tune will save your sanity. I’ll cover job seeker settings in a separate post. I personally don’t care about Birthdays, especially those ridiculous Work birthdays! 

58. Email frequency
If you’re getting emails from LinkedIn, this is the setting to tweak. However some emails (relating to service, payment, security or legal) can’t be shut off. When you click on ‘Details’ you get granular control, ‘Weekly Digest’, ‘Individual’ and ‘Recommended’. Recommended means that LinkedIn will send you an email with info you may have missed. I have no idea how LinkedIn knows what/when you have missed something. Spooky!

62. Read receipts and typing indicators
I think read receipts on LinkedIn messenger are superfluous but it’s neat to see when the other person is typing a response live. Works in groups but not InMail. 

63. Messaging reply suggestions
This is LinkedIn’s AI at work, I’ve been lazy and used them, handy on mobile, clever enough to be something I would actually type. There are usually 3 suggested reply bubbles that appear in messenger (see below). Click ’em and your respondent will never know it wasn’t you.

Here’s an index style list of all LinkedIn settings, with my numbering. You can see all of the settings I’ve skipped:

The primary objective of this guide is to cover those settings, which I think will give the average LinkedIn user maximum visibility, opportunity and security. I hope you found it useful. Please share and bookmark it.

Other Useful Stuff…

Struggling to write that LinkedIn summary? Are you looking for inspiration? Check out these 4 stunningly good (real life) summary examples:

4 Stunningly Good LinkedIn Summaries

I call them ‘hacks’ but more accurately, they’re great techniques – to fully leverage the LinkedIn platform:

8 Stunningly Clever LinkedIn Hacks

Hire Me: I provide LinkedIn Consulting Services

Your LinkedIn profile probably isn’t awful, but I know that I could improve it in 10 insightful ways you’d call brilliant. Very confident in my transformational abilities because I’ve helped thousands of busy, brand aware professionals just like you, change their LinkedIn presence from mediocre to something they can be justifiably proud of. I’m a wordsmith, marketer and LinkedIn genius. I’m currently accepting new clients.