LinkedIn recently added a new feature – Who’s Viewed My Profile. I have to say that this is a feature I’m not really all that crazy about, for a couple of reasons.
For starters, I’m not sure I really want everyone whose profile I view to know it. The fundamental paradigm of the internet is basically anonymous browsing. Sure, if you’re a registered member of a site like Amazon, they will track all of your behavior and try to present you with customized content based on your behavior. But they do not make your browsing available to other members. Book authors can’t see the names of all the Amazon visitors who have browsed their book titles. Why would we expect the paradigm to be different in LinkedIn?
Ryze implemented this feature a couple of years ago to very mixed reaction. The first time I got a public guestbook message from someone saying, “Hi, I saw you dropped by my profile, so I thought I’d come say hello and introduce myself.” What?!? Me visiting your profile is not an invitation for a conversation. If I had wanted to strike up a conversation, I would have!
In one instance (before I turned it off, or before you could turn it off – I don’t recall), I was browsing someone’s profile because a female friend of mine had told me that the person was making inappropriate comments that made her very uncomfortable. The person contacted me after having seen that I browsed their profile — well, you can imagine what an awkward spot that put me in.
Fortunately, LinkedIn had the good sense to allow you to control your visibility to others when browsing profiles:
For some of us, industry and title isn’t exactly anonymous. I show up as “Coauthor, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online” — hardly anonymous!
You know, if people want to open themselves up for this, that’s fine with me. I just have to wonder how useful it really is. I find that the novelty rares off rather quickly.
I will bet that in that instant that you saw a senior exec of a VC had
scanned your profile, you are thinking. “He wants to spend lots of
money on me, getting me into an influential role, that’s fantastically
well paid – what can I do to push this to the next level…’
1. He may have just seen you write something in a forum, and thought “who is this idjit?” (no disrespect to you or anything you may or may not have written – this is an example…)
2. He may have known someone with the same name previously, and is simply trying to track down old friends…
3. He may be just browsing his immediate network… Either out of boredom, or possibly just being “nosy” about what kind of friends his friends have…
4. He may actually not be a president of a VC firm, but has just labelled himself as such to scam business, of course, in this day and age,
5. He is actually looking for someone with your skills, background. If so, just like almost every employer (or prospective employer), he will want to retain some anonymity.. Which begs the question, why is this the nature of the relationship, where they have the problem that they want you to solve, but won’t tell you what it is, or who they are, but want to know every intimate detail of your working career (and in some cases psychometrically test you…)
Hey… if you like this feature, more power to you. Just don’t hold it against those of us who don’t and choose to browse anonymously. And don’t read too much into the fact that someone else has viewed your profile — it doesn’t mean anything more than just that.