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LinkedIn Tips and Traps - Step 1 - Account Settings 

Questions or comments to: info@hpalumni.org (Updated November 16, 2017.)  

Steps: 1. Check account settings  2. Optimize profile  3. Optimize positions  4. Use networking features

Check critical LinkedIn account settings: so that you receive job leads and requests to connect, have a little privacy, and don't drown in emails.

- Google yourself -- with your name in quotation marks -- to be sure you don't have a forgotten public LinkedIn account connected to former email address. If you have a common name, include "HP" as one of the Google search terms. Repeat the search with each employer you have ever had. Repeat if you have worked under another name. If you find a duplicate account, you can get it deleted or merged. An inactive account will stay on the system until you delete it.

- If you don't already have an account, setting up a free account is easy -- and requires only name and email address to get started. Just keep skipping the steps pushing you to provide more information -- you can finish your profile later. To create a new account, start at the LinkedIn homepage.

- You can have multiple email addresses on your LinkedIn account. LinkedIn sends job leads, requests to connect, and some Group emails to your primary address. For most people, the primary address should be a personal email address. This ensures that you maintain control of your account through changes in employment, provides privacy, and avoids important emails being inadvertently discarded by a company firewall. In addition to your current work address, you can include former personal and work addresses on your account as secondary addresses -- so that LinkedIn members who know you by another address will be able to connect with you. Change LinkedIn email address      

- LinkedIn will regularly nag you to "see who you already know." Do not ever give LinkedIn access to your email address book. If you do, LinkedIn will send multiple request-to-connect emails under your name to every person and company you have ever corresponded with -- dog-sitter, former-manager-from-hell, city streetlight repair, etc. On the "Get started by adding your email address" screen, click the small "Skip this step" link in the lower right corner -- instead of the big "Continue" button in the center. At LinkedIn, you are not the customer, you are the product.

- As with any online service, do not use a password on LinkedIn that you use for any other service. LinkedIn Corp. has been breached twice. LinkedIn offers "Two-Step" verification -- texting a random code to your phone if you log in from an unrecognized device -- however, we are reluctant to recommend it. One member was locked out for several weeks -- apparently due to a bug in LinkedIn's verification system.

- Check that the "First Name" and "Last Name" fields are correct on your account -- so that you can be found. Some folks have first and last reversed. It is even possible to wind up with a comma as your last name.

- Nothing on LinkedIn is private. The whole point of LinkedIn is to allow recruiters to search for candidates, salespeople to hunt for prospects, and people to connect with each other. Every LinkedIn member has basic search capabilities. Recruiters -- who may work for your current employer -- pay $9,000 per year for very powerful searching, tracking, and monitoring tools. At LinkedIn, you are not the customer, you are the product.

- As with any social medium, do not do anything on LinkedIn -- posts, group memberships, recommendations, or "likes" -- that you don't want your employer, managers, co-workers, competitors, or the media to see. Material from LinkedIn is increasingly showing up in news stories -- which may reflect unfavorably on a current or past employer -- and as evidence in legal cases. Employers can hire outside services to monitor their employees' LinkedIn activities for clues that an employee is considering leaving or for legal compliance issues. People who work in sensitive roles -- finance, computer security, classified -- recommend taking special care on LinkedIn and other social media.

- There are a few limited privacy settings. Click the pulldown arrow under your photo (next to "Me") and select "Settings & Privacy" then "Privacy." Details on LinkedIn privacy.
1. Before updating your LinkedIn profile, click "Me" under your photo > "Settings & Privacy > "Privacy" > and change "Sharing profile edits" to "No." Otherwise, LinkedIn will notify all your connections -- including managers and co-workers -- about every change: "Congratulate Mary Smith on the new position" (if you have merely updated a position description) or "Check out Mary Smith's new photo." However, this does not prevent any LinkedIn member from seeing your profile.
2. To avoid exposing your list of clients to your connections, you may wish to change "Who can see your connections" to "Only you."
3. Depending on your level and role -- and depending on what you signed when you left your last employer -- you may wish to change "Sharing profile edits" to "No." Notifying your connections that you have a new employer may be viewed as solicitation of customers or as solicitation of former co-workers to join your new employer. These issues are being litigated. (We've had no reports of this coming up with respect to HP or related companies.)
4. You can limit what shows up when people search for you online. (However, since almost every professional on the planet is a LinkedIn member with search capability, this doesn't provide much privacy.)

- LinkedIn sends several emails per week to induce you to visit the website. You can quickly limit the spam and still get the ones you want: Reduce LinkedIn emails

Next step -- Profile: Optimize your LinkedIn profile so that recruiters and hiring managers will find you.

Return to first "LinkedIn Tips and Traps" article in this series.

Questions or comments to: info@hpalumni.org

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