Control What Your LinkedIn Public Profile Displays

People looking for you often begin with a search engine. If you have a LinkedIn profile, it will most likely show up as one of the top results anytime someone searches for you by name. The good news is that you can control how your LinkedIn public profile appears to the public whether they’re logged into LinkedIn or not.

You can hide your public profile to prevent it from showing up in search. However, it’ll be harder for prospects, potential partners and future employees to find you. They’re not going to work harder than they have to. Compromise by making your profile visible to everyone while controlling the sections you wish to hide or make visible.

To see how your public profile looks, go to your customized LinkedIn URL, such as (Your profile lists your URL as Figure 1 shows.)

LinkedIn privacy control

Fig. 1. Where to Find a Person’s LinkedIn URL

Figure 2 displays the fields you may want to display at a minimum. Still it depends on why you use LinkedIn and the information you’re willing to share with the public.

LinkedIn public profile settings

Fig. 2. Customize Your LinkedIn Public Profile Settings

For each field, ask yourself if you want someone who may or may not know you to see this information before connecting with you.

Here are the recommendations for each field.

Picture: Your photo lets people know they’ve reached the right person and adds authenticity. There are very few people who would have a good reason for not including a photo. Given that LinkedIn’s own stats show that profiles with photos are 7x more likely to be viewed, making your photo visible should be an easy decision.

Headline: The LinkedIn professional headline quickly communicates who you are and may compel them to keep reading.

Summary: This is your professional story. People tend to relate more to the LinkedIn summary than with a bulleted list of job responsibilities and accomplishments. If you choose not to display the details of your current and past positions, the summary makes a good stand-in.

Skills: People can quickly learn what your specialties are based on this list and the number of endorsements for each. If you don’t have many endorsements in the skills that matter to you, it may be best to hide this field until you rack up more. You can also control which skills and endorsements to display.

Current positions: What you’re currently doing affects whether someone wants to connect with you. For example, a business owner would want prospects to know about the business and what problems it solves in hopes viewers will want to do business. If you turn off “show details,” then people can only view your company name, job title and employment dates.

Past positions: Displaying the company name, job title and dates worked highlights the types of companies you’ve worked for and your career progress. It should be enough to tell your story without divulging too much information.

Publications: Some positions, such as college professors and professional writers, will want to list publications. Being a published author shows you have respected expertise and strong writing skills.

Education: Even if you’ve been out of college for more than 20 years, including your educational credentials helps classmates find you. Prospects who are fellow alumni will be excited to see you have education in common. (Hoya Saxa!) It strengthens the connection.

Additional information: This includes interests, birthdate, marital status and advice for people who want to contact you. One reason you might display this field is for the contact information. The rest is too personal, but you can control who can view your month and day of your birthday, year of birth and marital status.

Honors and Awards: Deciding whether to display this depends on what honors you’ve listed and your LinkedIn goals. This may not be information people need to know when searching for you. Some honors and awards reveal personal information. For instance, if you received an award from PTA, people will know you are most likely a parent.

Volunteer Experiences and Causes: People belonging to political or other sensitive organizations may want to hide this information or omit it altogether. Like honors, your organization can reveal personal information about you that you don’t want strangers to know.

But charity work strengthens connections, gives some additional promotion to the charity, and lets others see that you give back. So it might be something you want to share.

Interested In: This helps people know whether it’s worth contacting you. To update this, select “Communications” in “Privacy and settings” and then “Select the types of messages you’re willing to receive.” Of course, if you’re open to career opportunities and you don’t want your current company to know, then you’ll want to turn this off.

Here’s what logged-in LinkedIn users can or can’t view in your profile:

  • Connections can view your name and profile.
  • Some premium members can see your full name and profile if you allow InMail messages.
  • Members outside your network only see an abbreviated profile without your name.
  • First-degree connections and people you’ve emailed who have added you to their LinkedIn Contacts can see your email address.
  • Third-degree connections and fellow Group members with free accounts will only see your first name, last initial, and the top section of your profile when doing a keyword search. One exception: They can see your full profile when searching by first and last name.

What if you want to prevent someone from viewing your profile? You can’t. But if you do, it requires doing the following — which isn’t likely worth the sacrifice:

  • Hide the public version of your profile.
  • Hide your profile photo.
  • Change your profile display name.

In short, the more you reveal, the more likely people will connect and engage with you.

What are your recommendations for managing your LinkedIn public profile settings? Also, please share your questions in comments so we can find an answer for you.

4 Reasons You Need a LinkedIn Premium Account

LinkedIn premium accountEven if you’re not a recruiter or sales person, upgrading to the LinkedIn Premium plan for business professionals may still be worth the investment. LinkedIn offers four types of plans: LinkedIn Premium, recruiters, job seekers and sales professionals. LinkedIn Premium targets business owners and general professionals who want to find and connect with the right people to promote and grow a business, form partnerships and find prospects.

Here are four reasons business owners and professionals may want to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium.

1. Connect with more people and those outside of your network

Premium members can send direct email through InMail to anyone on LinkedIn, even if they’re not connected. The number of InMail credits for sending emails varies based on the selected plan. InMail has a seven-day guaranteed response rate. If you don’t get a response within seven days, LinkedIn refunds the InMail credit. And if they reply on day eight, you still keep the credit. Members can carry over InMail credits, but they expire after 90 days.

Free accounts can request five introductions whereas premium users can request at least 15. They also find out what they have in common with the person they want to reach. This may offer a good conversation starting point. The advantage of introductions is that people tend to respond when someone they know does the introducing rather than you cold-emailing them.

Members can join the OpenLink network, which increases your profile’s visibility because it allows other LinkedIn members — basic members included — to view your complete profile and contact you with no penalties to them. OpenLink is an optional feature that needs to be activated.

2. Access more profiles and details for more thorough research

Premium users have full access to 35 times more profiles, including 3rd degree connections. Those on the free account are limited to viewing the full profiles of 1st- and 2nd-degree connections.

3. Learn more about the people interested in you

On the basic plan, you can only see the last five people who have checked out your profile. Premium users get a full list of people who have viewed their profile in the last 90 days and analytics on how they found you such as search keywords, industries and geography.

The keywords help you adjust and optimize your profile. Reviewing views by industries and location may reveal a potential market for prospects, clients and partnerships. When you contact the people who viewed your profile, start a conversation rather than sending a generic connection request.

4. Gain more search power and precision

All accounts have access to advanced search, but premium members can access more options to sharpen searches and get more targeted results. Premium adds eight search fields including LinkedIn groups (they belong to), years of experience, function (accounting, legal, etc.), seniority level, interested in (consultants, industry experts, deal-making contacts, etc.), company size, Fortune (ranges from Fortune 50 to 1000) and when joined.

Basic accounts view 100 search results. Premium accounts search results range from 300 to 700. LinkedIn saves your criteria and notifies you when new profiles meet your criteria. The notifications per week vary based on the selected plan in which the basic can get three and the others get more than five notifications each week. Premium members can also see a list of people in their network who can provide a reference for someone they wish to contact.

Premium features speed up and target your searches, widen your network and reveal more insights. It may be what the doctor ordered to grow your business and connections. Fees are charged by the month or annually, so you can try it for one month to see how you like it and how much you use it.

Advanced LinkedIn Search Tips and Tricks

Many companies, B2B in particular, depend on LinkedIn for lead generation. According to Hubspot’s “The 2013 State of Inbound Marketing” data, 43% of all marketers have found a customer through LinkedIn. According to LinkedIn’s blog, there were 5.7 billion (yes, billion) searches done in LinkedIn in 2012. The blog announced that LinkedIn had more than 238 million members. To put that into perspective, LinkedIn would have the fifth largest population in the world if it were a country.

Numbers like that mean it has a lot of data to search. The LinkedIn search box appears at the top of every page ready to search for people, jobs, companies, groups and so on. Join the 43% and boost your chances of finding the right companies, clients and prospects with these LinkedIn search tips to search faster and receive more precise results.

Quick Look at the Little Features

Many people and companies have the same terms, which can make it challenging to find the right one. Do a search for “James” and autocomplete displays people, companies, groups and universities with the name. This does come in handy when you need to jog your memory or don’t know the full name. LinkedIn search also uses an algorithm allowing it to learn from your searches to provide more relevant results.

“Save search” appears in the right-corner of most results. With this, you can create up to three saved searches (with a free account). It’ll even send you an email alert on a daily, weekly or monthly basis when it finds new matches. The other almost easy to miss feature is the “Sort by” helper in the right-corner to the left of “Save search.” This doesn’t show up in every instance of search, but it lets you sort your search results by relevance, relationship and date. Refer to Figure 1 for both features.

search results LinkedIn

Figure 1. Search results page sorted by relevance.

When doing a general search, LinkedIn provides a handful of results from every category. As you can see in the first figure, “marketing automation” displays jobs, people and groups.

Give LinkedIn Alumni the Old College Try

Whether you loved or hated college, your college connections can be a stepping stone to the next deal.

LinkedIn Alumni searches for fellow alumni by:

  • Dates attended the school
  • Where they live
  • Where they work
  • What they do
  • What they studied
  • What they’re skilled at
  • How you are connected

LinkedIn alumni search

Figure 2. Use LinkedIn Alumni search to find fellow alumni.

Once you’ve narrowed your list using the options in Figure 2, you can search the profiles of the remaining connections. Introducing yourself with a “Hey, we went to school together” can be a powerful lead-in.

Search to the Max

If you’re interested in talking to people in computer software companies, you’ll be dealing with more than 1.6 million computer software companies and millions current and former employees from these companies. Advanced People Search, as Figure 3 shows, sifts through these to find people with specific traits and terms. For example, you can use this to find all the potential CMOs in a Fortune 251 – 500 computer software company within a 60-mile radius.

advanced people search LinkedIn

The Advanced People Search form is self-explanatory. Beware that items only LinkedIn Premium members can use the items marked with the orange LinkedIn icon.

Make Search Magic with Boolean Searches

Yes, even with the many options, it’s possible to improve your results with Boolean search operators. LinkedIn search, however, doesn’t support wildcards.

Quoted searches

Entering marketing manager without quotes fetches all members who have “marketing,” “manager” or both in their profile. Limit the results to those that have the exact phrase with quotation marks. So “marketing manager” returns profiles with both words. In this example, someone with “software marketing manager” will show up, but someone with “marketing automation manager” will not.

Quoted search examples:

  • “marketing director”
  • “virtual assistant”
  • “web designer”

NOT, OR and AND searches

Many job titles and responsibilities use multiple definitions and terms. Web designers, for one, may use web design, web coder, web developer, PHP developer and so on. Clearly, web design has many titles, so refine your search by excluding a word or phrase from your search with upper-case NOT. Or if you want to cover them all, use upper-case OR.

When you enter two or more search terms, LinkedIn displays profiles with all the terms whether as a phrase or a singleton. This is known as AND search, but you don’t need upper-case AND because it’s the default search type. Why tell you about this if you don’t need to do anything? Because it’ll come to play in the next type of search and combination searches.

NOT, OR and AND search examples:

  • helpdesk OR “help desk” OR “technical support”: Search for profiles with any of these.
  • web designer OR web coder OR web developer: Searches profiles with any of these three titles.
  • web designer NOT web coder NOT web developer: Searches profiles for web designer, but not the other two titles.
  • marketing NOT product: Searches profiles with marketing included but not product.

Parenthetical searches

Parenthetical searches allow you do to fancy searches by combining the other Boolean operators. Remember back in grade school, you calculated or grouped items in parenthesis separately? That’s how it works. Check out the examples.

  • CMO OR (VP AND marketing): Searches for profiles with CMO or marketing VP
  • User AND (designer OR experience): Searches for user designer and user experience
  • (virtual assistant OR VA) marketing: Searches for

Now you can bring it all together to combine different types of searches.

  • (tech support) AND “customer service”: Searches for profiles with terms tech and support and “customer service” as a phrase.
  • Intranet (web designer OR web design): Searches for profiles with intranet web designer or intranet web design, but not necessarily as phrases.
  • (User experience or UX) “information technology”: Searches for profiles with terms user and experience with the “information technology” phrase.

In a perfect world, Boolean searches would do exactly as designed. Even with imperfect Boolean search results, they still provide sharper and more useful results than plain old keywords.

6 Excuses to Stay in Touch with LinkedIn Contacts

Connections with ClientsMany people struggle with small talk or feel awkward when simply checking in with someone. It gets old to send a note that says, “Hope this finds you well. Just wanted to check in with you. How are you?”

LinkedIn Contacts is trying to help. LinkedIn has added some new features that remove some of the anxiety that comes with staying in touch with professional contacts. It’s a useful marketing tool, especially for small and one-person businesses.

Here are six stress-free ways to stay in touch using LinkedIn.

1. Send congratulations!

If you opt-in, LinkedIn emails you daily updates on your connections that have a new or changed status. It could be a new job, job anniversary, birthday, promotion or appearance in an article.

Before sending hearty congrats, check your contact’s profile to make sure the change is really news. Some marketing experts are recommending that you change your headline every month or so, just to show up in the update list. If your contact has simply changed the wording, you might want to skip the congratulations – or you could comment on the change and ask if that’s working for them.

For true new or changed jobs, in addition to the congratulations, you have an opportunity to learn what they do on a daily basis and what kind of help or resources they may need, so you can keep an eye out for them and see if you can help. Make a note of their responses in their profile under Relationship. (Only you can see this.) Better yet, schedule a reminder to follow up.

2. Add your regular clients to your profile

LinkedIn adds new features all the time. And one of those allowed people to add clients they work with on a steady basis. Posting one you’ve worked with for a long time allows people who get the updates to see the addition.

They might think you have a new job and send you congratulations. But that actually gives you a good excuse to have a conversation. Write back with a note of thanks, explain you were taking advantage of a new feature (in case they don’t know about it) and ask what they’re working on.

3. Connect with contacts on your travels

Traveling for an event, meeting or even to visit family? Before you depart, look to see which contacts live in the area of your destination. Reach out to see if they’d like to meet up. Set the meeting before you leave and ensure you have contact information in case you’re delayed or plans changed.

4. Reconnect with those you haven’t contacted with in a while

Browse your connections for people you haven’t had a conversation with for a long time. In case you have a lot of connections, filter by “Connections Only” to shorten the list. List still too long? Shorten it by filtering by company, tag, location and other fields.

By default, contacts are sorted by “Recent Conversations,” so you’ll have to scroll a bit to find older conversations. (The Page Down button comes in handy here.) LinkedIn bases your last conversation on LinkedIn activity and email — if you’ve connected your Gmail, Yahoo! or Outlook email account to LinkedIn. (See sync your contacts.) Beware of this in case you’ve chatted with a contact on Twitter, Facebook or other social network. Remember to keep notes in the person’s profile.

5. Use reminders

Next time you have a conversation with a connection, note special details, such as plans to speak at a conference, go on a fishing trip with the kids and so on. Put this note in the person’s profile and set a reminder to follow up with the person after the event occurs to ask about it.

6. Share curated content

How many times have you seen a great article and shared it with someone? Why not use LinkedIn to share curated content? You get bonus points if you add commentary. Next time you find an insightful article worth sharing, use LinkedIn’s filters to find people in a related job, industry or location that are likely to benefit from the article and forward it along.

What other ways do you use LinkedIn to connect? How has using LinkedIn Contacts helped you?

How to Use Keywords in Your LinkedIn Profile

Using keywords in your LinkedIn profileKeywords in your LinkedIn profile can mean the difference between appearing in the top of LinkedIn’s results and several pages deep. Keyword placement and density can also help you move to the top of the search results.

However, some people stuff keywords in their LinkedIn profiles thinking it will boost their profiles. And some use too many different keywords, which dilutes the results. Both approaches can work against them as it looks like they’re gaming the system.

The smart way to use keywords is to identify the ones that describe what you do and what are most important to your career. Then, list keywords people use to find someone with your skills. How do you differ from everyone with the same job title and keywords? Jot those down. Find a balance of words that describe you while having some uniqueness.

Once done, do these four steps to post your keywords in your profile:

  1. Create your LinkedIn headline.
  2. Review your summary.
  3. Check your experience.
  4. Add keywords to your interests.

1. Create your LinkedIn headline.

Beginning with your headline, ensure it displays more than your current job title and company. Put the keywords in order of importance. (Do this for all sections.) Keywords can include job titles, roles, skills, experience, value offered to employer, certifications and so on.

Here are some examples:

  • President & CEO, Company Builder, Investor, Business and Corporate Development, M&A. This lists the individual’s role plus areas of expertise. 
  • Seasoned Improvement, ISO, Lean professional in high tech/auto/mfg/e-Waste/CDP implementation. This individual works in process improvement and lists industry specialties. 
  • Software Developer | Technical Writer | Editor-in-Chief | Team Coach | Space Science Journalist | Lecturer. This individual has a diverse background and these keywords make it easy to understand what the person can do. 
  • Sr. Software Engineer/Systems Analyst. Embedded Real-Time Firmware, Problem Solving, Troubleshooting. This headline describes the person’s role and includes the person’s most important and strongest skills. 
  • Keynote speaker, digital marketing expert, board member. This person makes it clear the person is available to speak, do digital marketing consulting and sit on a board as an advisory board member.

2. Review your summary.

If you’ve filled in “Summary,” revisit it to see if it contains your important keywords. The summary tells your professional story without the constraint of talking about a specific job you held. Here, sum up your career and skills.

3. Check your experience.

Go over your “Experience” and ensure your keywords appear there and as often as possible, within reason and where it makes sense.

4. Add keywords to interests.

When you enter keywords in “Interests,” LinkedIn turns them into links. So it won’t be the place to write sentences describing your professional and personal interests. Again, list them from most important to least.

When you’re done, review your LinkedIn profile as if it belongs to someone else. If anything bothers you, revise it until it passes the test. Better yet, ask a few friends and colleagues to review your profile and provide feedback.

Please share your suggestions for using keywords in a LinkedIn profile in comments.

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  • Why this Blog?

    I have been running a marketing and PR firm since 1994. I love marketing and I love helping people grow their businesses. This blog lets me share what I've learned about marketing to help you generate more leads and sales for your company.
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