LinkedIn has become the world‘s go-to professional networking platform, with over 810 million members as of 2022 according to LinkedIn data. Many job seekers rely on LinkedIn to find new opportunities, showcase their expertise, and make valuable connections within industries.
However, sharing professional details widely on the open internet also raises privacy concerns for some users. You may not want random recruiters or salespeople contacting you based on your profile. Or perhaps you want to research competitors privately without them knowing.
Fortunately, LinkedIn offers robust privacy controls that empower you to limit visibility. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain step-by-step how to make your LinkedIn profile private in 2023 and beyond. You‘ll also learn best practices for using LinkedIn‘s privacy features effectively as an experienced cybersecurity professional.
Here‘s what I‘ll cover:
- The benefits of a private profile on LinkedIn
- Exactly what changes when you go private
- A simple step-by-step tutorial for enabling private mode
- Tips for using private browsing successfully
- How mobile private mode differs from desktop
- Alternate privacy options beyond completely private
- A rundown of LinkedIn‘s additional privacy levers
- Potential drawbacks to weigh before going private
- Answers to common troubleshooting questions
Let‘s get into the details!
Why Make Your Profile Private on LinkedIn?
Before we dive into the steps, it helps to understand why you might want to turn on LinkedIn private mode in the first place. Here are the most common motivations:
1. Avoid Spam and Harassment
Like any social network, LinkedIn comes with risks of unwanted attention. According to LinkedIn‘s 2022 harassment report, 57% of professionals age 18 to 29 have experienced harassment on the platform.
A private profile adds a layer of protection against random messages, aggressive recruiting pitches, multi-level marketing schemes, and other outreach spam.
2. Research Competitors Anonymously
With a private profile, you can freely browse member profiles and Groups related to competitors, colleagues, or employers without leaving a trail.
This allows discreet intel gathering and keeping tabs on industry players‘ activities. They won‘t receive notifications tipping them off that you accessed their information.
3. Maintain a Low Professional Profile
Certain fields like journalism, activism, politics or law enforcement require keeping a low public profile for safety and confidentiality.
Private mode lets professionals in those industries use LinkedIn without creating unnecessary exposure risks. They can still benefit from networking and career advancement features.
4. Manage Work Relationships Carefully
Having colleagues, managers or direct reports as connections on LinkedIn creates a gray area around what they can monitor about your job search or career moves.
A private account reduces openness about your activity like connecting with recruiters or seeking new jobs. You control the message.
5. Preserve Personal Brand Reputation
Everything you do on LinkedIn becomes part of your professional brand image. Certain activities like joining particular Groups or viewing specific companies could send the wrong signal.
A private profile allows more control over your branding and reputation on the platform. You can still research and explore privately without concerns.
6. Achieve Greater Privacy Over Your Career
In general, a private profile gives you fuller autonomy over who gets access to the intimate details of your professional life. As privacy concerns grow, some prefer keeping career activity more restricted.
Rather than leaving your information public by default, private mode puts you in the driver‘s seat.
What Changes When You Make Your Profile Private?
Now that you understand the benefits, how does a private profile actually work and what does it change?
The key effect of enabling private mode on LinkedIn is that your browsing and viewing of other profiles becomes anonymous. Other members will not get notifications or relationship tags when you visit their profiles or content.
However, that anonymity goes both ways. With a private profile, you also won‘t receive notifications when other members look at your profile. You lose visibility into who is viewing and engaging with your profile.
According to LinkedIn data, profile views increased 40% from 2020 to 2021. So profile views can provide valuable intel on networking opportunities, job prospects, and how your personal brand is resonating.
Two other specific changes with a private profile:
- Your profile photo and background photo will not appear in Google or Bing search results. However, your public profile information remains searchable.
- Your public profile page will have a label indicating "LinkedIn member with a private profile" to set expectations.
Importantly, your existing LinkedIn connections still have access to your full profile and activity updates unless you change individual audience settings. Toggling on private mode only relates to limiting visibility from strangers.
Now let‘s go through the steps to actually enable LinkedIn‘s private mode.
Step-By-Step Guide to Making Your LinkedIn Profile Private
Ready to make your LinkedIn profile private? Here is a simple walkthrough with visuals:
- Login to your LinkedIn account via the desktop site and go to your profile page. Make sure you are on the full desktop site rather than mobile:
- Click on the Me icon (your profile image) in the top black navigation bar and choose Settings & Privacy from the dropdown menu:
- On the Settings & Privacy page, select Visibility from the left sidebar:
- Scroll down to the "Your public profile" section and find the Private mode setting:
- Toggle the switch for Private mode to the ON position (blue).
- A popup will explain what private mode means. Review the details then click Yes, turn on private mode.
That‘s all it takes! Your profile is now in private browsing mode. The blue color of the toggle indicates it is enabled.
To return your profile to public mode, simply repeat the steps above and switch the Private mode toggle to the OFF (gray) position. This change happens immediately.
Now let‘s look at how to use private browsing successfully.
Tips for Using LinkedIn‘s Private Mode Effectively
Here are some best practices to get the most out of LinkedIn‘s private profile functionality:
- Only enable private mode as needed for specific purposes, rather than leaving it on permanently. Toggling on occasionally prevents missing out on all visitor notifications.
- Use private mode when browsing LinkedIn on public, shared, or borrowed devices. Don‘t risk leaving your activity visible to others.
- Research people and companies anonymously before sending connection requests to learn more about them first.
- After disabling private mode, check who has recently viewed your profile before it resets. This tells you who showed interest.
- On mobile devices, use the private session option when browsing casually. Enable full private mode only when needed for an extended period.
- If you want to post content, share updates or engage with your network, temporarily disable private mode for better visibility.
- Consider alternating between private and public mode instead of staying completely private at all times. Mix up the benefits.
- Remember that private mode only limits visibility from strangers. Customize your audience settings for sharing with your existing professional connections.
Taking a thoughtful approach using this advice allows you to maximize both the privacy and publicity of your LinkedIn presence.
Private Profile Settings on Mobile vs. Desktop
LinkedIn currently handles private profiles slightly differently on mobile devices compared to the desktop interface. Here is a breakdown:
- On the desktop website, you can fully enable private mode via the profile settings as shown earlier. All profile viewing and activity becomes private.
- In the mobile apps for iOS and Android, there is no setting to make your entire profile private. However, you can enable a "Private mode" per browsing session via the app Settings.
- On mobile web via the browser, you CAN actually turn on full private mode for your profile, just like on desktop. Use the same steps above.
So in summary:
- Desktop site – Full and permanent private profile mode available
- Mobile apps – Temporary private mode that resets after each session
- Mobile web – Full and permanent private profile mode available
My advice is to use LinkedIn‘s mobile apps for temporarily discreet browsing only. If you require permanent private mode, enable it via desktop site or mobile web for consistency across devices.
Additionally, the desktop site provides more comprehensive privacy configuration options. Take advantage of the increased flexibility.
Alternatives to a Completely Private LinkedIn Profile
While a totally private profile gives you anonymity, you do lose out on seeing who is looking at your own content and profile.
Luckily, LinkedIn provides other privacy levers beyond just the nuclear option of full private mode. Here are alternatives to consider:
Adjust Profile Viewing Options
Instead of going completely dark, you can select which profile visits you get notifications about under:
Settings & Privacy > Visibility > Seeing profile views
For example, you might only get alerts when you are viewed by recruiters or 2nd-degree connections, filtering out random strangers.
Block Specific Members
If certain persistent individuals are bothering you, use the blocking feature to prevent them from interacting with your profile in the future.
You can block via any profile by clicking the … icon and selecting "Block."
Utilize Browser/Device Privacy Modes
Enable private or incognito modes on your web browser or device when browsing LinkedIn if you only need temporary extra privacy. No need for a permanent change.
Anonymous LinkedIn Viewing Tools
Certain third-party tools like Anonymous Lookup claim to provide anonymous profile viewing capabilities, though LinkedIn discourages using them. Use at your own discretion.
Beyond Private Mode: LinkedIn‘s Other Privacy Settings
In addition to the overall private/public profile toggle, LinkedIn gives you many more granular privacy configuration options accessed under Settings & Privacy:
- Search engine visibility – Remove your profile from being indexed by Google/Bing under Profile visibility settings.
- Feed audience selector – Control who sees your posts, likes, comments, and other activity updates. Choose from public, connections only, etc.
- Profile viewing receipts – Manage which LinkedIn members will get notifications when you look at their profile.
- Sharing profile edits – Determine if your connections receive notices when you add a new role, education, etc.
- Work anniversaries – Toggle on/off automatically sharing your employment history and milestones.
- Open profile – Select whether you indicate openness to recruitment contacts. Keep it private.
Take time to fully review and configure these additional settings based on your comfort level. You haveadvanced options beyond just private mode.
Potential Drawbacks of a Private LinkedIn Profile
While limiting your public exposure on LinkedIn can certainly be advantageous for privacy, there are also a few drawbacks to consider:
Missed Networking Opportunities
Remaining completely private means you likely miss out on some relationship-building moments and notifications when mutual connections view your profile.
Perceived Suspicion or Secretiveness
Having a sparse or totally private profile could be seen as suspicious behavior on a platform meant for open networking.
Making your profile invisible reduces chances of being found by relevant recruiters, partners, or colleagues.
Lack of Insights
A private presence means less data on who is looking at you or interested in connecting. Valuable business intelligence can be lost.
Extra Toggling Effort
It takes more effort to actively toggle between private and public mode rather than leaving your profile open by default.
There are certainly legitimate reasons to use LinkedIn privately. But periodically returning to public mode can supplement privacy with beneficial openness. Evaluate this tradeoff regularly.
FAQs About Private Profiles on LinkedIn
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about private profiles on LinkedIn:
How do I know if my profile is currently set to private mode?
Check for the blue toggled "Private mode" switch under Settings & Privacy > Visibility. Blue means private mode is on, gray means it‘s disabled.
Does private mode work to hide my profile on mobile apps too?
Not completely. You can start a private session on mobile apps, but full private profile mode is only available on desktop site and mobile web currently.
If my profile is private, can my 1st-level connections still see my activity?
Yes, your existing direct connections will still see your profile updates unless you change audience settings. Private mode only limits visibility to non-connections.
Can I still post content updates if my profile is private?
Yes, you can continue to post articles, comments, photos etc. normally. Use the audience selector to control visibility of your posts.
Is there a setting to remove my profile from Google or Bing search results?
Yes, you can prohibit search engine indexing under Settings & Privacy > Visibility > Profile visibility.
What happens if I disable private mode – does my history remain private?
No, disabling private mode immediately makes your profile public again. Past private activity like profile viewing does not remain hidden.
Conclusion: Take Control of Your LinkedIn Privacy
In today‘s world, managing your professional online presence requires more thoughtful privacy strategies. I hope this guide has equipped you to make your LinkedIn profile private in 2023 and provided a deeper knowledge of the platform‘s privacy controls.
The key takeaways around LinkedIn private mode include:
- It primarily provides anonymity when viewing other profiles and prevents notifications.
- Private mode does not restrict visibility from your existing connections.
- Enable it selectively when needed rather than leaving it on permanently.
- Mobile apps only allow temporary private sessions – use desktop or mobile web for permanent privacy.
- Supplement private mode with other privacy levers like profile visibility and audience settings.
While there are benefits to a certain level of openness on LinkedIn, you now have the ability to curate exactly how much of your profile and activities are publicly accessible.
As a cybersecurity professional passionate about online privacy, please reach out if you need any further assistance configuring your professional social media presence!