But Your LinkedIn Privacy Settings Can Fix That
Here's a quick and revealing exercise for you: Log out of LinkedIn. Now Google search your own name, and look closely at what appears in the results. (Oh come on, like you haven't done this before.)
Here's the fun part: Pretend to be someone, somewhere, who has the perfect job, offer or business connection for you. Now look at your public profile through their eyes for a few minutes.
Next, pretend to be a creepy internet stalker. I'm assuming that's a big stretch for most of my readers. But do it anyway, and look at your public profile through THOSE eyes.
How do you look? If there's anything showing there that isn't needed or advantageous, log in and go to your LinkedIn Privacy Settings to adjust accordingly. You've got 3 options: You can make your entire profile and sidebar information private, or you can make them public/searchable, or you can customize them specifically for your needs. I recommend the latter for most people who are looking to increase their exposure without setting themselves up for identity theft.
There are other reasons to take a few minutes with LinkedIn's Privacy Settings, too. As you're going through its various options, consider the reasons for and against making each nugget of info available.
For instance, I recommend that you do not enter any personal information, like your home address and phone number – even for people you are connected with. Remember, there are 150 million viewers out there.
On the other hand, listing your business phone and company is usually a very good idea, particularly if you want people to be able to contact you easily (even if they don't have their own LinkedIn account). Google search-ability is a big reason to keep certain elements public; if your happening' keywords and phrases are kept public, your LinkedIn SEO will be that much more potent.
Tweets need to be carefully considered. If you've got a Twitter account and you use it strictly for professional purposes, by all means connect it to LinkedIn. This will let your brilliant tweets appear on your profile page, building your exposure and credibility. Your opinions about the latest political scandal? Not so much.
Some people remove public access to their Connections sidebar to stop snoopers from stealing clients or otherwise mining your data. I believe that your LinkedIn Connections should generally remain viewable because they really do help to increase your network of like-minded people. Which bolsters your professional network, adding credibility.
But again, this is your call based on your needs and goals.
One thing that might start bugging you is that LinkedIn has an uncanny ability to suggest you connect with people you have never emailed, friended on facebook, or heard from on Twitter. As a matter of fact, that oddball fashionista you met last week at the pub might show up as a suggested connection on your page.
In this way, it's a little creepy how powerful LinkedIn is.
How does that happen? Well, if you mass-imported your full email contact list, you're fair game whenever any one of them joins LinkedIn. And anyone who views your profile or has a connection with someone you know – or imports THEIR email list including you – will likely be suggested to you.
Others are mined through powerful algorithms, plug-ins and LinkedIn's own connections with 3rd parties.
If you'd prefer not to have your information shared with 3rd parties, go to Groups, Companies & Applications in your privacy settings. There you can turn on or off data sharing with 3rd party apps, as well as manage your settings for LinkedIn plugins on 3rd party sites.
But don't freak. Managed wisely, your LinkedIn privacy settings will keep your info safe from stalkers while at the same time allowing you to make some very beneficial connections.