Would you go to a networking event wearing a mask that obscures your face? Hand out business cards that have no name or contact information on them? No, of course not! Unfortunately, more and more people are doing this sort of thing every day when they change their LinkedIn privacy settings to Anonymous. Why do this? The common misconception is that it allows you to search for a new job when you already have one, and nobody will be the wiser. Sorry to say it, but this logic falls flat.
Your Profile Views – when your privacy is set to Anonymous, nobody sees when you have visited their profile. At the same time, you can’t see who has viewed your profile. You’ll never know if someone from Company X viewed your profile after you submitted an application to their organization, or reached out for an informational interview. That’s a lost opportunity!
Their Profile Views – let’s say that you identified recruiters, talent acquisition specialists or decision makers for an organization on LinkedIn. You visit their profiles, but they never know it. Other than gathering information for yourself, what did you gain? They might have been interested in speaking with you for an informational interview, or connecting with you, but since they don’t know you exist, you’ve missed out again.
Your Networking Rep – setting your profile to Anonymous suggests that you have something to hide. Sure, you don’t want your supervisor to know that you’re looking for a new position, and perhaps you’re scoping our organizations related to your current employer and don’t want word to get back. That’s understandable. Yet it’s not. Even if you were looking to stay with your current role, you should be networking with other professionals in your field, and reaching out to other organizations. By surfing LinkedIn anonymously, you’re showing a lack of networking know-how, and that’s definitely not the message you want to communicate.
The Creep Factor – we all want to avoid looking like online stalkers, so the Anonymous setting looks pretty good, right? Sounds great in theory, but when my profile views show me that 4 out of 5 profile viewers have chosen to be listed as Anonymous, I’m feeling pretty creeped out. I’m left wondering who are these people? What did they want with my profile? And with the introduction of apps like LinkedUp that allow users to search for potential dates by LinkedIn profiles, anonymity just got creepier.
Be bold! Be brave! Be public with your LinkedIn settings! People can’t find you if they don’t know you exist, and connecting with other professionals is the raison d’être behind LinkedIn. I promise that people won’t think you’re a stalker. And, if you’re worried, you can always look up public profiles using a browser that doesn’t know your LinkedIn password so you won’t show up in their profile views.