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How to Avoid Spam, Protect Your Data & Improve Your LinkedIn User Experience

by LinkedIn Profile

When I speak to some LinkedIn members about their LinkedIn user experience, they admit they feel tentative about using LinkedIn. This could be because they don’t want LinkedIn to send them lots of emails, they don’t want new connections to send them irrelevant or unsolicited messages (aka spam) and they’re keen to know how to generally protect their privacy on LinkedIn.

The good news is that there are ways to address each of these issues to improve your LinkedIn experience and avoid receiving unsolicited emails from new connections on LinkedIn.

Managing Your LinkedIn Settings & Privacy

If you are new to LinkedIn or planning to be more active on LinkedIn, I encourage you to take the time to review your LinkedIn settings and privacy preferences.  The Settings & Privacy page can be accessed here if you are reading this while logged into your LinkedIn account. It allows you to manage your LinkedIn account settings and update your privacy and security settings, and set your preferences for how frequently you’re contacted by and through LinkedIn.


At the top of the page, you’ll also see an overview of your account details, including your profile headline, number of connections, and what Premium accounts you currently have, if any.  The Settings & Privacy page is organised into four tabs to help you easily view and modify your account information, privacy preferences, ads settings, and communication notifications.

Understanding your LinkedIn Account tab

This section allows you to manage your account settings, such as adding email addresses, changing your password or language, and other account management options.  There are 5 sub-sections on the Account tab. Below I have highlighted some of these sub-sections and the actions I recommend you take.

Email addresses: I recommend you provide two email addresses and make your work/business address your primary address. If you are an employee and leave your current role, you must be able to access your LinkedIn account via an alternative address.

Two-step verification: Turn this on to give you an extra layer of protection when logging in from new devices. This will send you an SMS code when you first login from a new device.

The site preferences helps you choose how you want your LinkedIn experience to work for you with your language preference, your feed, showing videos, and more.

Feed preferences: Review these to make sure you’re following relevant companies, thought leaders and schools, based on your goals for LinkedIn.

Understanding your LinkedIn Privacy tab

This section is one of the most important areas to review and covers all privacy and security settings related to what can be seen about you, how information can be used, and downloading your data. Please note that I have only covered off some of theses sections  in today’s article and encourage you to spend time clicking into each section so you are clear about what you have agreed with LinkedIn as the default for your account. The sections include:

  • How others see your profile and network information
  • How others see your LinkedIn activity
  • How LinkedIn uses your data
  • Job seeking preferences
  • Blocking and hiding

Edit your public profile: You can control the elements of your profile that can be viewed by anyone on the internet. You do not have to be logged into LinkedIn to view this.  I do recommend you make most of these visible as it enables you to better showcase your professional skills and control the information available about you online.  You can show your profile picture, headline, summary, experience, education, skills, projects and more. There is a tick box option in this section that allows you to choose what people see. Remember – this can be different to what your LinkedIn connections will see and is a personal choice that will depend on your goals for LinkedIn and your online presence.

Who can see your email address: This is a newer feature and one I am relieved LinkedIn has introduced. It provides an extra layer of protection and enables you to accept invitations to connect from people you do not know on LinkedIn (which I recommend in my LinkedIn networking guide). It means your connections can not access your email address and subscribe you to their email newsletter without your permission. Yes – there are some uneducated business owners and marketers out there who still do this! You’re forgiven if you are a start up and did not know this one. In this Infusionsoft article Katrina Orendain explains what you can do instead to encourage sign-ups to your email newsletter.

Who can see your connections:  While some networking strategists will tell you it’s good to allow your connections to see everyone you’re connected to on LinkedIn, I prefer to just share my mutual connections with my LinkedIn connections. This means I choose the ‘only you’ option in this setting.  Please note – members will still be able to see connections who endorse you, unless you turn the skills endorsement feature off.

Representing your organisation and interests: I’ve recently changed this setting to ‘No’ as it allows LinkedIn to show my name and/or picture with content about my employers, such as in job posting details and on company pages and insights, and with content related to my publicly expressed interests. I do not like that choosing ‘Yes’ can mean when I like a service or follow a company, or comment or share its posts, I am giving LinkedIn permission to include my name and photo with their sponsored content when shown to my connections.

Profile viewing options: There are 3 types of profile viewing options and I recommend you only ever use the 1st or the 3rd option. Please see the image below to view the 3 profile viewing options available to you. The 1st option is suitable if you wish to be completely visible, let others know you are looking at them and be able to see who’s viewed your profile (which is limited for free accounts). The 3rd option enables you to view other people’s profiles without them knowing your identity. I do not recommend the 2nd/middle option as people may be able to work out who you are!


What is the risk of my LinkedIn account being hacked?

I’m occasionally asked if there’s a risk of a LinkedIn account being hacked. If you are concerned your account has been hacked, please report it immediately to LinkedIn here.  I’ve personally never had my LinkedIn account compromised, but I like to answer this question based on the discussion around the Australian My Health Record where a data expert was asked if our medical records were safe online. His response is one I have now adopted. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. This means I never put too much personal data online, and in the case of LinkedIn, do not include my birthday. What you can do is review how LinkedIn uses your data (as per the options featured below) and take full control of what you are allowing. My settings provide a guide on how I navigate this and I encourage you to revisit this section of your profile every 6 months to see if there are any changes to the settings.

Sync contacts and calendar: I avoid these two features as it invites LinkedIn into my address book and calendar.

Understanding your LinkedIn Ads tab

This section enables you to control the information that LinkedIn uses to show you relevant ads by adjusting your account’s ads settings.  There are 3 sub-sections including:

  • General advertising preferences
  • Data collected on LinkedIn
  • Third party data

Here are my general advertising preferences. Again, I encourage you to take the time to click through this and the other two sections so you can control the information LinkedIn uses to show you relevant ads.

Understanding your LinkedIn Communications tab

This section houses your preferences for how LinkedIn and other parties are able to contact you, and how frequently you’d like to hear from us. It’s the first section I show clients when they want to know how to turn all those emails from LinkedIn off! There are three sub-sections including:

  • Channels
  • Preferences
  • Groups
  • LinkedIn Messages

Changing the frequency of emails on LinkedIn will improve your LinkedIn user experience, as the default setting sends too many emails to your inbox. Below are my setting preferences for this feature. When you are updating these settings in your LinkedIn account make sure you also click into the blue arrows on the right hand side of the image below to specify your preferences.

Your Contact Information on LinkedIn

If you are logged into your profile from your desktop and click on ‘See contact info’ (as shown on the bottom RH side of the image below), you can see what contact information you’ve included on your LinkedIn Profile. When I review client’s LinkedIn Profiles I check this feature to ensure they have not unintentionally added information that is either irrelevant to their goals or too personal.


Karen Hollenbach

Karen Hollenbach

As one of Asia Pacific’s Top 10 LinkedIn Experts I share fortnightly news with my global email community and run monthly online Lunch and Learns to teach professionals how to unlock LinkedIn. Sign up to my newsletter to help you learn LinkedIn – the right way!

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