LinkedIn is designed for networking and engagement, so why then, are there so many personal profiles with settings that do not encourage this?

In a way, LinkedIn is the modern-day phone book.  Back in the 70s and 80s, the slogan for the Yellow Pages was “let your fingers do the walking”.  Businesses would place phone number listings or ads in this giant pale-yellow, thin-paper filled book which people would use as a resource for a solution provider to a problem. (Want to reminisce or don’t believe me?  Check out this ad from 1980.)  While the Yellow Pages are now an ancient artifact, they did get one thing right as our fingers are still “do the walking”. Only now, it’s across a keyboard. Think about it this way, making the time to have a LinkedIn profile but not having your contact information current or being open to messages is like taking the time to buy an ad in the Yellow Pages but not including a phone number in the copy.  What’s the point? 

According to December 2020 stats, LinkedIn has over 760 million users worldwide.  104 million of those users access the platform Every. Single. Day.  And, if that’s not enough, 87% of recruiters say they actively use LinkedIn as a resource for potential candidates. This is all expounded upon with the COVID pandemic so drastically affecting our ability to interact in person.  The capacity to connect virtually has become even more important and relevant than ever before.

Earlier this week, I wanted to share a webinar opportunity with some acquaintances who I know are looking for work due to the devastating effect of the pandemic on the hospitality and live events industry. While I had their previous work email address in my database, I knew they wouldn’t receive it as they had been furloughed or laid off and no longer had access to that account.  So, I went to LinkedIn to look up the “Contact Info” tab on their profile to find an alternative way to reach them. 

I was shocked.  Time and time again. 

Some still had that invalid work email address listed and no alternative email.  Many didn’t have a phone number, and if they did, it was a business number that no longer connected to them.  Some simply had their profile URL listed, which only directed me to where I already was.  I was trying to be helpful, and instead, I became frustrated that this was becoming a difficult task.  Now what if this wasn’t just a webinar opportunity, but someone who had a job lead or a great business opportunity for these individuals?  Do you really want to just let that disappear because it wasn’t easy for someone to reach you? 

LinkedIn is a voluntary platform and somewhere along the way, you were told that you needed to have a profile so, you set one up. Yet, like most things, it needs a little attention for it to be effective.  If you don’t want to be engaged with others, then simply don’t put yourself on the platform.  Perhaps you may get the occasional unwanted message, but there could be something really positive that you might miss out on.  Are you willing to take that gamble?

How do you fix it?  It’s quite simple:

  • When you open LinkedIn account in your browser and log in, look on the left-hand side under the LinkedIn logo and the search bar
  • You’ll see your banner image and professional head shot (and if you don’t have either of these, that’s a topic for another article!)
  • Click on your name and then click on the pencil in the right-hand corner
  • Scroll down to “Contact Info”, click on the pencil and you can update your phone number
  • You can also add a business mailing address.  If you don’t have one, I would recommend skipping this step as you don’t want to publicly share your home address for security reasons
  • You’ll see an email address listed which is the address you currently have as your primary email and this symbol next to it
  • Click the symbol to be taken into your “Account Settings” where you can remove and add multiple email addresses and phone numbers and determine what you want to be listed as your primary which then will appear in your “Contact Info”

Again, it’s your choice to be on the platform (or place the ad in the Yellow Pages) so if you can share more information to help make the viewer more informed about you, I would suggest that you look at your settings to make sure that you are maximizing your reach.  In the Yellow Pages, you could simply have a listing with your name and phone number. Or, you could have a larger ad that stands out and attracts attention, highlighting more about what you offer.  It’s the same with LinkedIn; you can have a profile that only shows the basics, or, you can update your settings to allow for better engagement.

Here’s how:

While you are in your “Settings”, select “Visibility” from the left-hand menu

Then click on “Visibility of Your Profile and Network”

  • Click on “Edit Your Public Profile” and on the right-hand side, scroll down to “Edit Visibility” and toggle to make “Your Profile’s Public Visibility” On
  • Below that, you can decide what sections of your profile you specifically you want to have visible.  The more you have visible creates more opportunity for shared similarities or reasons to connect

Then, go back to the “Settings & Privacy” menu on the left-hand side of the screen.   Click on “Communications” and then “How You Get Your Notifications”

  • Scroll down to “Who Can Reach You” and “Invitations to Connect” and set to “Everyone”

Again, this is a networking site, so you want to be able to connect with new people)

  • Scroll down to “Messages” and toggle all options to “Yes” which allows people to use the LinkedIn provided private messaging system to send personal and private communications

This is extremely helpful when you are sending a new connection request so that you can include a short message to build some trust behind it and it’s not just a “cold call” connection.

By making the few changes, you are creating an environment that will lead to better opportunities for networking and engagement, which in turn, should lead to more productive and rewarding interactions on LinkedIn.