LinkedIn Privacy Settings: What You Need to Know

Your LinkedIn information can be accessed by people inside your immediate network and, more broadly, by all of LinkedIn's 36 million users. Here's how to control who can see what, and why it matters.

Since LinkedIn doesn't require you to share the same types of personal information as you do on Facebook, the service's privacy settings appear to be much more straightforward than its less business-oriented competitor. But if you leave the default settings in place, you might be surprised to know what information you make public on LinkedIn.

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In fact, I've received several e-mails from readers who said they were solicited for products or irrelevant jobs on the service. In each case, they had no idea how the person found them (and didn't appreciate the spam for that matter).

How private you decide to make your LinkedIn information will affect the inquiries you receive for job opportunities as well as, in some cases, the amount of information you're able to find about others. To access the privacy settings, simply log into LinkedIn and click on the Account & Settings tab in the upper right hand corner of your homepage.

Here's a walkthrough of what I'd pay most attention to as you alter your settings. It's important to know that some of them don't appear under the "Privacy Settings" area, but nonetheless require your attention.

Your Public Profile

While the LinkedIn Account & Settings page has a special section marked for privacy, other categories affect the amount of information other people on LinkedIn see when they visit your page or search for your name.

Under "Profile Settings," you should pay particular attention to the information you make available on your Public Profile. This information may be visible to people who aren't one of your main contacts — known on LinkedIn as "connections." In other words, it's information you should feel comfortable for anyone to see.

After clicking on the Public Profile option, you will be taken to a field that allows you to check on (and off) certain aspects of your public LinkedIn profile. The default will make most of your LinkedIn profile information available to everyone, including your picture, work summary, education and past jobs.

LinkedIn Privacy Settings

Again, the level of information you reveal here might depend on your industry. If you don't want competitors looking at certain information, you should check it off. If you're hoping to find a job on LinkedIn, you should make as much of it available as possible.

Back on the main account & settings page, under profile settings, you can also adjust who sees your LinkedIn status message (which, remarkably, LinkedIn hasn't integrated with Twitter) or your member feed. Your member feed displays all the actions you take on LinkedIn, such as updating your resume or changing a link within your profile. For these, you can click to make it available to your connections, network or everyone.

And, of course, save your changes.

Personal Information

As it concerns privacy, there is one feature under the personal information section to consider: "name & location." Your connections will always see your first and last name, but if you wanted to set it so other people on LinkedIn can't see your full name (just your first name and the initial of your last name), you can do so here.

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