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Establishing a More Secure Networking Experience on LinkedIn

Posted by Rob Riggins

LinkedinLinkedIn is a terrific networking tool. Its primary usage is for professionals to build a network with other professionals and to develop business associations. While it’s a form of social media, it is not to be used as socializing tool like Facebook or Instagram. Your presence on this site should be devoted to business-related communication, especially when you’re in a job search, and not the sharing of vacation photos, or liking of political articles. Always use LinkedIn to promote yourself and your skills in a business-like manner.

Also be careful to maximize safety precautions. You’ll need to determine the best way for you to balance privacy and security while building a successful networking community. No matter how effectively you manage your settings, you can’t completely hide yourself. Reducing your exposure is quite doable, but you will not be completely unseen.

Your public profile can be controlled via your settings. The standard default allows you to be visible to the general public but this can be reset only to allow your connections to view your information. Keep in mind that others will not be able to find you through search engines if you make your profile private, but for the cleared community this is a very important setting. As with all social media, don’t put anything on LinkedIn that you do not want the world to know.

Connecting to Build Your Network

Growing your connections is how you build a professional network. Keep in mind though that you will be judged by the company you keep. As a general rule, don’t accept connection requests from people you don’t know unless they have been referred to you. Exceptions could be confirming connections from people who are working at companies that are a target in your job search, or others in your profession. That’s a judgment call you’ll need to make, but accept connection requests with some forethought.

To maximize security, consider these suggestions:

  • Do not include in your profile that you have a security clearance.
  • Exercise appropriate skepticism when contacted by someone not known to you regardless of how credible their LinkedIn presence appears. Not everyone on the internet is who they say they are.
  • Be cautious when considering a connection request from those you do not know.
  • Be cautious when considering a connection request because the requestor’s network includes people you know only marginally.
  • Seek and accept connections that add quality to your professional network and consider the ramifications of accepting connections that do not.
  • Do not accept connection requests based entirely on the strength of the requestor’s network. People sometimes build false networks and leverage their false credibility to more easily facilitate social engineering.

Consider Controlling Access to Your Account

It’s common knowledge that strong passwords are the best defense for preventing people and automated systems from illegally accessing online accounts. Your choice of password should be original to the LinkedIn site and it’s important to change it regularly. These days more folks are using a passphrase which is a string of characters that form an easy to remember phrase. An example could be “Nothing could be finer” or “See you later alligator”. These catchy phrases are easier to remember and provide more protection from security risks.

They are also more random and can’t be associated with personal choices like your dog’s name or your birthday. Guidelines for passwords to avoid include:

  • your name or any variation of your name
  • your user ID or any part of your user ID
  • common names
  • the name of any relative, child, or pet
  • your telephone number, social security number, date of birth, or any combinations or versions of those
  • vehicle license plate numbers, makes, or models
  • the school you attended
  • work affiliation
  • the word “password” or combinations including “password” prefixed or suffixed with numbers or symbols
  • names or types of favorite objects or hobbies
  • all the same digits or all the same letters or letter sequences found on a keyboard

Keep Email Security in Mind

LinkedIn uses email addresses as their primary means of connecting and communicating. Use an email address that’s different from your personal and business email. LinkedIn will use this as the main channel for communication. They will also use this email address to reset your account if you’re ever locked out, so be sure to remember which email you use.

Don’t list your email address anywhere other than in the appropriate profile information area. Placing it anywhere else may make it an easy target for search engines and then easily accessed by anyone on the internet. This elevates your chances to be singled out for spam and phishing scams.

Note your 1st degree connections will see the email address you use for LinkedIn.

Sharing Your Address Book

You are offered the opportunity to share your address book and this may seem like a good idea to quickly build your network. Keep in mind, though, that to do this you will have to share your email password. LinkedIn is surely a trustworthy tool but sharing your password comes with all kinds of risk. And if you access the site via a business email this may violate company rules. Another drawback of sharing your address book is that you may not want to associate professionally with all of your personal contacts.

Profile Settings

One of the most important LinkedIn settings is “Make my public profile visible to no one.” Your public profile is visible from outside LinkedIn, including from search engines. You can shut that down entirely if you choose to do so with this setting. Whether that’s important depends on you, your career path, and how you use LinkedIn.

Consider who can see your connections. While it’s tempting to flash the number of people in your network, it leaves you open to folks who troll the internet for the purpose of exploiting your list of connections. Restricting access is often the best practice, but know that your first degree connections will always be able to see mutual connections.

Do you want others to see that you have viewed their profile? Again, think about what your purpose is. As a job seeker, it’s not a bad thing to let others know you’re viewing their profile. Particularly if you’re interviewing with someone, it shows that you’re preparing for the interview.

The Profile Viewing Options setting controls this option with three settings. Your name and headline, Private profile characteristics which means they only see your company name, and Private mode which simply states you’re an Anonymous LinkedIn Member viewing their profile. When deciding which profile mode to use, consider how you want to use LinkedIn.

Recommendations and Endorsements

An endorsement is the acknowledgement of a skill set or ability. It’s basically a connection clicking a button to say they believe you are talented in a specific area. It’s a crowd-sourced form of recommendation and has not gained much real currency or traction.

A recommendation is more personal and specific, requiring the author to give details of their professional relationship with you and what they believe to be your strengths.

Endorsements can and should be deleted if it’s a skill you do not want to promote or that is not relevant to you. Recommendations cannot be deleted, but they can be hidden from your profile.

Recommendations can be very powerful, because it’s information about you that typically can be found nowhere else. What’s most important are recommendations from the last 5-10 years, and that are relevant to your career. Don’t like a recommendation? Ask the author to change it or don’t make it public.

LinkedIn is a very powerful tool for building your network and growing a solid professional community. Follow these basic suggestions to help safeguard your information.

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 10, 2018 6:50 am

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