Even though LinkedIn has an FAQ, there are a few questions that seem to keep coming up over and over again to Customer Service and in the Using LinkedIn category on LinkedIn Answers. Community Evangelist Mario Sundar and Director of Customer Service April Kelly have each shared a “top 5” list. With the growing concern around identity theft and privacy (not specific to LinkedIn, but generally), you’ll definitely want to check out April’s privacy tips.
For the answers, visit LinkedIn’s blog. I’ve added some comments of my own below.
Mario’s top 5 LinkedIn how-to questions:
- Can I edit a recommendation that I’ve written for another LinkedIn user?
When would you want to do this? Well, what happens when your relationship changes? What if they do something really great for you? Wouldn’t you want to reflect that? Similarly, there are circumstances in which you might want to withdraw the recommendation entirely.
- Can I remove a person from my list of connections?
Some people turn out to be jerks. While the risk of this is certainly higher if you accept connection invitations from people you don’t know, it happens sometimes with people you thought you knew. Also, I’ve heard of people deliberately staying under 500 connections so as not to appear to be a link collector. I don’t worry about it myself (I just crossed the 500 mark), but I understand their reasoning.
- How can I keep people in my network from being notified when I add a new connection?
- How can I keep people in my network from seeing who my connections are?
I didn’t notice it on the first read, but when I looked more closely, I realized that #3 and #4 are both controlled by a single setting. That makes sense — if you don’t want people browsing your connections, you certainly don’t want to be sending notices every time you add people either.
- I accidentally created two accounts. Can I merge them?
A tedious process. In theory they could handle it programmatically, but I can understand why it might not be worth it for them. I’m curious how often this really happens.
April’s top 5 LinkedIn privacy tips:
- I found myself when I searched my name on Google. How does that happen?
I’m on the fence about this one. I mean, come on… if you have even 100 connections, your profile is visible to several million people, plus all the premium users. At that point, the differentiation between “private” and “public” is pretty fuzzy, don’t you think? If someone wants to access your information and use it maliciously, they can. I think the incremental value of having your profile public to the search engines far exceeds the incremental risk of doing so.
- I received an invitation from this person and I do not know them, how did they get my email?
April didn’t mention the fact that if you participate in a Yahoo! Group or other email discussion list, your email is visible to a lot of people you don’t know. Folks, simply being on the same discussion list is not grounds for a connection invitation.
- How secure is LinkedIn Data?
An understandable concern, but keep in mind… they don’t have any information like your SSN, driver’s license, etc. Other than what’s visible on your profile, about the only other information is your email address and your relationship data. Frankly, I don’t think that information is all that interesting to anybody except maybe the government, and if they want it that bad, they can still get it.
- Is there anyway for other people to find out who my direct connections are?
This ties in to #3 and #4 above. Personally, I turn off connection browsing. I don’t see the value in it, and I’ve already got so many networking demands on my time, I don’t really want to invite more, especially in that way.
- I am out of Invitations, how can I get more?
The interesting issue here is that LinkedIn makes it just a little too easy to use them all up without really warning you sufficiently about the consequences. When you first sign up, they prompt you to upload your Outlook or GMail contacts and invite them. Many people have more than 3,000 right off the bat, and if they haven’t paid close attention, they’ll burn right through them, plus get a lot of “I don’t know the sender” clicks. This is an area I think LinkedIn needs to really work on. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the feature itself — I just think there ought to be some more clear guidance and warnings about the consequences of inviting a bunch of people all at once.