I’ve noticed that some of my contacts (10% to be exact) have made their connections private on LinkedIn. As a social network, hiding your contact list seems, well, not very social. When a contact list is private, I can’t browse my connection’s network to see who I may know or who may be of interest to me. I can still find people in their network via a keyword search showing them as the first-level contact that provides the connection, but I have to know what I’m looking for and I can’t just open up their connection list and peruse them for familiar faces.
Why Do People Choose to Hide Their Networks?
- To prevent competitors from gaining access to your customers and business partners
- To avoid having to make an introduction to someone for a person you don’t really know
- To preserve confidentiality
- To eliminate unwanted solicitations
All very valid reasons.
I’ve also discovered that originally LinkedIn set the default as private, so it’s highly possible that some people just don’t know that they can change this setting. So if you are in that category, go to “Accounts & Settings”, “Connections Browse” and select “Yes, show my connections list” radio button if you wish to open up your network.
Should You Make Your Network Visible?
One of the real strengths of LinkedIn is its ability to assist in connecting people. Everyone on LinkedIn has chosen to share their information to some extent with everyone in their network which includes your 3rd degree network and those with whom you share groups. By not sharing your connections, you appear to be anti-social and imply that you want easy access to my connections but are not willing to share yours in return. And although that may not be the case for your choice, networking is a two-way street and some people may take offense.
If you open your network, you can:
- Help other people connect
- Create new opportunities for you and others
- Build new relationships
- Grow your network
Professionals should apply the same networking skills to LinkedIn that you would in a face-to-face networking event and behave responsibly. I hope those I connect with act professionally and can be trusted to use the network appropriately, enabling me to expand and add value to not only my network, but to yours as well.
What’s Right for You?
The purpose of LinkedIn is to create an opportunity to discover other professionals that may be beneficial for me to know. Most often, I’m not going to spend a lot of time browsing other’s connections and mostly will make use of the search feature to save time. If someone truly feels that hiding their connections is right for them, then that’s their choice and it’s fine with me.
Do you open your network or protect it and why?