LinkedIn can be really irritating at times. Random people with weak connections to you would like to join your network. Some people you’ve never heard of are craving to connect. Some just want to join your network to sell you something – usually a service they offer.
They are persistent and harass you to answer. Some contacts are recruiters who don’t want to offer you a job but have seen your LinkedIn profile and want to offer you their candidates to hire at your company. LinkedIn is important to your business success and you want to connect with new people.
Like any business networking, our connections are priceless. We meet someone at a business meeting, exchange small talk and often we can help them by connecting them to another member of our network. This new connection can often benefit both companies or expand the network of either party. But the request to connect with a random person via LinkedIn seems odd.
However, some connections leverage their connection to you so they can scour your network for more useful connections in your current or past role. By default, LinkedIn shows your connections to your network.
All your 1st degree connections can see and search your connection list. Your 1st-degree connections may choose to sync their LinkedIn account with their account on a partner service and see your connections on that service, unless you turn off profile visibility on partner services.
Advertisers can serve ads to connections made by a company’s employees, but they can’t see those connections.
So if you voluntarily accept connections without carefully examining why these people want to connect with you, you could be exposing your entire network to spammers, scammers, or thoroughly unpleasant people.
Luckily, LinkedIn offers a layer of security so you can disable the visibility of your connections. Anyone browsing your network can only see connections that are common to them. The rest of your network is hidden from them.
Limiting the visibility of LinkedIn connections
If you value your connections, it’s a good idea to limit your network’s visibility to random people. To review your settings, go to the LinkedIn home page and click the down arrow below your profile picture.
In this dialog box, click the Settings & Privacy link. This will open the Settings page, which contains a variety of options for your account. Click on the visibility link that allows you to control the visibility of your profile and network.
You can choose how much information others can see when viewing their profiles, showing your full name and title, viewing profile attributes, or staying in private mode when viewing other profiles. However, be warned that private mode is not as private as you might think. Anyone with a LinkedIn premium account can see your full details when you browse their profiles.
Their LinkedIn connections can hide connections they don’t want to share. In this case, you won’t see an option to view connections on the member’s profile. However, they can view connections between you by going to the “People” tab on the search results page or by clicking on the “Mutual Connections” link in the introductory section of their profile.
Other sections in this section allow you to edit your public profile and control its visibility, as well as your email address and even hide your last name.
However, if you select the Connections link, you can prevent occasional LinkedIn members from evaluating your connections. Set this slider to Off. This will also block advertisers from serving ads to your connections.
Unfortunately, you cannot selectively hide your connection list from people who are hiding theirs, nor remove any new connection updates from your connections in your feed. But this useful little slider gives you the power to keep safe the connections you’ve painstakingly amassed over years building your network.
Hopefully your connections will want to protect you too.
Other LinkedIn tips in this series:
6 reasons why LinkedIn is important to your business
Make your LinkedIn profile more dynamic with a cover story video