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There are 3 settings to choose from when deciding how others see you on LinkedIn when you’ve browsed their Profile. This article examines the 3 settings and explains why the anonymous option can come back to bite you – if you don’t know how to use it.

SETTINGS & PRIVACY

Click on ‘Me’ under your tiny photo, top right of your LinkedIn profile page, then click on ‘Settings & Privacy’:

Click on ‘Privacy’ and then click ‘Profile viewing options’. Select one of 3 options (Your name and headline / Private profile characteristics / Private mode).

‘YOUR NAME AND HEADLINE’

is self explanatory and the default setting (if you join LinkedIn and don’t change anything in Settings, you will always be identified by your photograph, name & headline). It’s recommended by LinkedIn because it delivers maximum engagement between users.

‘PRIVATE PROFILE CHARACTERISTICS’

can be fairly specific OR incredibly vague, depending on how someone has filled out the sections of their profile, but bear in mind that this (semi anonymous) setting can be clicked when you browse others, for example:

‘PRIVATE MODE’

used to look like this cannot be clicked:

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But LinkedIn stopped showing anonymous visits sometime in early 2017, probably because people got so riled up about it! I long advocated for the removal of anonymous browser visits, what is the point of seeing that someone had visited your profile anonymously? It was non-actionable information. So glad LinkedIn finally removed it.

BEWARE! ANONYMITY CAN BE TEMPORARY
You may have perfectly good reasons for being in Private mode (anonymous) when you browse profiles on LinkedIn and it’s none of my or anyone else’s business why you would want to but you ought to be aware that anonymity can be temporary and you run the real risk of being exposed if you don’t understand how LinkedIn works. Here’s the scenario – you decide to cloak yourself in anonymity and change the appropriate setting before you go off and browse. You feel confident that no one you browse can identify you and you’d be correct. Except that if you then switch back to Name and headline, DO NOT visit the same Profile you browsed anonymously within a 90 day period, because if you do – LinkedIn will switch all of your previous anonymous footprint(s) back to your Name and headline, defeating the purpose of private mode browsing. LinkedIn currently allows paying (Premium members) users to see 90 days of browsing activity.

PRIVATE PROFILE CHARACTERISTICS (SEMI ANONYMOUS)…..WHY?
When you opt for the 2nd choice, only showing Private profile characteristics, you’re neither identifying yourself nor being anonymous. Because your footprint (an icon) can be clicked, you’re encouraging a hunt in your general direction. I’ve been using LinkedIn since 2008, I have yet to hear a good reason for being semi anonymous. It wastes time and could result in a false positive for the folks who use it. A  person you browsed could simply click on all of the potential browsers (including you) and you’d think that your identity had been revealed. My advice? – go for the 1st choice, name and headline and reap all of the potential rewards of being found on a network of 470m+ (2017) professionals.null

READY TO GO DEEP ON THE LINKEDIN ALGORITHM?
I’ve written a comprehensive guide which will help you to understand how content is treated on LinkedIn. Publishing on LinkedIn without adequately knowing how the algorithm works, is like sitting in a Volkswagen Beetle on a starting grid flanked by Porsches. The objective of this article is to put you in a Porsche, maybe even a Tesla. Start your engines. The LinkedIn Algorithm Explained In 25 Frequently Asked Questions

HIRE ME TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR LINKEDIN PRESENCE & STRATEGY
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 coach.

andy@linkedinsights.com