LinkedIn training tip – Hiding your connections
You can hide your LinkedIn connections, even from your other connections, with a simple switch. Here is how you do it, but it does have a set of implications.
One of the cool things about LinkedIn is that you can migrate your business cards into an “online rolodex”. However, that rolodex is now visible to all of your other “connections”, and that visibility may be abused by some of them. For instance, let’s say you have a business acquaintance named Harry Krishnah, and he is a particularly intrusive personality, always testing the limits of what’s cool. He sends you a LinkedIn connection request, and it’s easier to say yes than to discuss it the next time you see him in public.
He can now look through your connections, and even though he can’t get their email addresses, he may call them and mention your name, even though you haven’t approved of this approach. The LinkedIn Q&A forums are full of stories like this, and someday it might happen to you.
If your rolodex is a critical asset, and you don’t want your more obnoxious connections looking through your rolodex, you can stop them. Here’s how you protect your connections from being browsed by your other connections (especially connections who happen to be competitors).
- Go to your LinkedIn home page
- In the upper right area, click Accounts & Settings
- On the right, about 1 screen down, under Privacy Settings, click Connections Browse
- Click No
Its pretty simple, but there are a bunch of implications.
- This is a single switch that affects all of your connections. I’m sure you would love to see some way to prevent abusive connections like Harry from browsing your other connections, but you’d like to allow everyone else to see them. There is currently no way to do this, although it is a feature LinkedIn obviously needs.
- Harry can still see that you know that connection if he does a search by the person’s name or title. If Harry does a search for someone, and they happen to be your LinkedIn connection, Harry can still see that you are connected to this person. The option above just prevents him from browsing through your whole list of connections.
- Some LinkedIn users will get mad at you. In the LinkedIn Q&A forums, people get very angry about people that prevent others from looking through their connections, because they think this somehow limits free networking. I’ve never really believed in this argument, so I fully understand anyone who wants to protect their online rolodex. Those people may threaten to remove you as a connection. You can point them to a blog entry that I wrote about How to remove a LinkedIn connection, or how women dump me.
- Don’t connect with your competition. This part may be obvious, but there may be people who are partners more than competitors, and they may try to leverage your connections to promote their business. This is an awkward position to be in, and you have to decide what’s best for your business, but if you do connect with the competition, you probably should restrict the browsing as described above.
- Don’t put your most prized connections into LinkedIn. Some people take this approach to make sure that none of the above mentioned problems occur.
Ultimately, choose what’s best for your business, and realize that it’s easy to change. Someday, LinkedIn will hopefully improve the power and scope of this protection.