Anonymous LinkedIn Member, who art thou?

I’ll tell you. You’re one notch below “Someone in the Architectural  & Planning industry” in my “Who’s Viewed Your Profile”  area. That’s akin to being nobody. Why would you want to be “nobody?”

I’m not alone in decrying your secrecy. Firebrand Marketing Director Carolyn Hyams wrote an article called 13 things that really annoy people on LinkedIn , in which she writes, “And whilst I’m on this subject, don’t change your privacy settings to “anonymous” when you’re looking at other people’s profile. It makes them feel like someone is stalking them.” The article is quite good.

To be accused of stalking someone is strong language, but I agree. At least have the decency to tell me what company or industry you’re from. I tell my LinkedIn workshop attendees that not declaring who you are is like spying on people…don’t do it.

Help me figure out why you are secretive. Is it 1) because you think I’m an employer who is about to interview you 2) you don’t want me to read your profile for privacy reasons 3) you’re just naturally distrustful? Here’s the thing: I’m not an employer who is going to interview you. If you’re concerned about privacy, you shouldn’t be on LinkedIn, let alone the Internet. And networking is all about trust and building relationships.

One other thing: I’m delighted when someone looks at my profile. I’m thankful when they declare who they are.

So, who art thou? I’d be happy to meet you via reading your profile, and I might even want to connect with you…if you’ll let me. Until then, please declare your complete name and let me see your photo. I bet you’re a pretty decent person.


20 thoughts on “Anonymous LinkedIn Member, who art thou?

  1. Barry Shirk

    Interesting article. A lot of good points were raised. I agree with them. It is nice when someone just tells it like it is.


  2. Pat Weber (@patweber)

    Bob I am more and more inclined to think that many of these kind of actions are because people just do not get what networking is about. It happens so frequently it cannot be all because people have any of the fears you mention, although those could be the truth. It happens just way too much.


    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Yes, it may be because of lack of education on networking, but considering that the default is to declare oneself fully, there is some forethought in changing it to Anonymous. I just wonder what it is. Although this annoys me, my post was written somewhat in jest. Always great to hear from you, Pat.


      1. Karen Eason

        Hi there 🙂

        Here is an excerpt from a comment I posted on a thread of this topic. It best describes my feeing on the situation:

        {I still go back to what I originally discussed with Jerry’s post. I just cannot seem to figure out how being anonymous serves someone. If your profile is viewed and you ask that person to connect, they are not obligated to do so. The only thing I can think of is if someone wanted to steal original content from your profile and use it as their own. If you don’t know who they are and cannot connect with them, chances are you would never find the duplication by chance. I suppose I am usually more accepting, when I understand others reasoning. Any other ideas among the group? Any anonymous persons wishing to defend the anonymous option?}


  3. Wolfgang Koch (@Wolfgang_CPRW)

    I am all for visibility and approachability; my name, headline, and photo have always been visible to anyone, and most of my profile is public. And it is somewhat frustrating when some nondescript “LinkedIn Member” appears in my profile-view stats.

    Not that I’m judgmental, though. I can still excuse it when a new user is exploring the ropes of navigating the system, or feels his or her profile is too much under construction to be viewed in return.

    With that said: I do get the point of those saying when you are logged in and viewing other users’ pages, you should identify yourself. You wouldn’t go to a networking function and withhold your name and business card, would you? LinkedIn is like an ongoing virtual networking function, not a showroom floor.

    Some people, like me, have most (or all) of their information in their public profiles. People who make their profile information public are saying it’s OK to be viewed by the—nameless—general public. Therefore, for viewers who want to be anonymous, the option of choice would be to log out of LinkedIn and stick to just the public profiles.


    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Hey Wolfgang, good to hear from you since our meeting on the Cape. It never occurred to me that someone might be self-conscious of their profile and, therefore, might not want to reveal their unfinished work. Good point. Still “Show me the money.”


  4. Karen Eason

    Hi Wolfgang,

    That is a good point. My profile was under construction (and still is really) for over a year because it just wasn’t a priority in my life. I just simply wrote “Under construction, more to come as time allows” because I wanted former workmates to be able to find me. I only write this example, so perhaps others will see it and follow suite rather than be labeled a “Linkedin Lurker”.


  5. Teralee Sampson

    I actually had posted in my profile that people who were Anonymous need not look at my profile – it actually seemed to draw MORE of them, so I took the reference out. But anonymous viewers really annoy me too – there needs to be a filter that we can turn off or on which prevents anonymous members from viewing a profile – I have suggested it too.

    Another funny thing I noticed was that a majority of my anonymous viewers seemed to be from IT in India. I was a QA at one point, but almost my entire profile is graphic design.


    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Thanks for your comments, Taralee. I also think Anonymous and even Someone from XX industry should be banned; but there is a good reason for some to state themselves as anonymous. Those who are looking for a job but don’t want employers (their employer, too) to see them, feel safer that way. I say the more power to them.


  6. Laura Smith-Proulx, Executive Resume Writer, LinkedIn Profile Writer, National Columnist, & Job Search Coach


    Interesting viewpoint… and one I may write a blog post on myself. You see, I’m one of those Anonymous viewers, and here’s why.

    I spend a good deal of time writing about LinkedIn best practices and investigating new tools on the site. In the process, I research many Profiles and encounter thousands of users (to whom I offer advice, as I moderate a Group that is locked down and run only by LinkedIn). Of course, I don’t want to alarm other users or give them the wrong impression by visiting their Profiles, because I may look at them repeatedly.

    LinkedIn is a huge source of information to both me and my clients, and since I’ve written at least one book on the topic (in addition to my articles), I’m required to maintain insider knowledge of the site.

    Also, you HAVE to consider that recruiters and hiring managers are also not in a position to reveal themselves as they surf LinkedIn for candidates. How would you feel if a hiring manager repeatedly visited your Profile, but never reached out to you – or worse yet, ignored overtures from you after you realized they were looking at your Profile? It’s better for them (and offers much less chance for conflict with job seekers) if they keep their surfing activity confidential.

    Think about it: how many times have you seen a job posting with “No Phone Calls” listed in the ad? If you’re doing the hiring and checking out hundreds of Profiles for a great candidate, do you want them all to contact you? Absolutely not – you’d spend all day answering calls.

    In addition, my executive clients are very involved in covert job searches themselves, and must use LinkedIn to learn about competitors, recruiters, hiring authorities, Boards of Directors, etc. It makes no sense for them to reveal their activity.

    Many of these executives command teams totaling in the hundreds of employees. If you knew your CEO was looking for another job, what would you think about your future at that company? Most team members don’t need to job hunt if their manager is leaving… yet, they might feel compelled to bolt if they were aware this was happening.

    These executives would be immediately dismissed if they alarmed shareholders or the public with job-searching activity. I advise my clients to turn off their identities for exactly these reasons.

    A final note, and I can’t stress this enough: If someone is looking at your Profile anonymously, that is a GOOD thing. Welcome it!

    It may be a recruiter or hiring manager curious about what you offer, and they may be lobbying their team to take a second look at you. Then, the hiring team (all of whom have turned off their identities) will take a look at your Profile.

    Don’t EVER post a note telling users not to surf your Profile – LinkedIn is not just a networking tool, but a value-added “see and be seen” weapon that is very useful – even in a confidential job search. Don’t shut down the very thing that can help you become hired and that allows recruiters to learn about you.

    Anonymous users are just part of what happens when you open up the world of job search so publicly, and if this setting goes away, plenty of recruiters will quit using LinkedIn as a tool.

    The Anonymous setting is incredibly valuable to LinkedIn experts, covert job seekers, and most of all, you (as a job seeker).

    Kind regards,



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