With all the concern about maintaining privacy in the age of social media, you may think it’s a good idea to keep your LinkedIn profile private, meaning that other users won’t be able to tell when you’ve clicked on their profiles. But LinkedIn is not like other social media sites – it serves a completely different purpose. Yes, it would be extremely creepy if you could see exactly who was clicking on your Facebook profile each day (and surely you don’t want your ex knowing you still stalk his profile from time to time), but those sites are designed for sharing the more personal details of your life. LinkedIn, however, is meant to be used in a strictly professional manner, and keeping your profile open has some major advantages that you might not be aware of.
First, clicking on the profiles of people at a company you want to work for shows interest in that company. If you’re going into an interview, and the interviewer sees that you’ve clicked on his LinkedIn profile beforehand, it indicates to him that you’ve taken the time to do your research and actually care about the position. As a result, you’ve made a good first impression before ever meeting the person (plus, you may get some inspiration for conversation starters that could help you seem more personable during the interview!). Even before the interview phase, viewing LinkedIn profiles is a good way to get a recruiter’s attention. You never know what a recruiter is looking for at a given point, and by clicking on his profile, you’re giving him a reason to check your profile out, and there’s always a chance you could get a phone interview out of it without much effort at all.
Second, keeping your profile open makes it easier for you to build your professional network. You should actively research the people who are in the types of positions you're looking for or work at the companies you’re interested in. Using LinkedIn is a great way to identify 2nd degree contacts that your friends may be able to introduce you to, and it’s also a way to get on the radar of people you don’t know. Perhaps you click on the profile of someone at a new company you’ve never heard of and don’t know much about, but the person you’ve clicked on views your profile and sees a business opportunity there (could be a new job or also a partnership). They may actually surprise you and request to connect before you’ve even had the chance to send them a message. And if that happens, respond! Build a working professional relationship by following up with a meeting. By leaving your profile open, you’re creating a two-way street that allows others to find you.
The final benefit of having an open profile is that you get to see who has clicked on you. It feels a little bit more fair to let go of a small amount of privacy when you have something big to gain from it. For one, it allows you to rekindle relationships that have fallen by the wayside. Sometimes you’ll see that a contact you haven’t spoken to in a while has clicked on your profile, which gives you a great excuse to send out a message and get drinks. Maintaining your relationships is the best way to get a job in Hollywood, so use LinkedIn as a way to keep track of those you may have forgotten about. Additionally, you may find out about new companies or positions through the people that have clicked on your profile. There’s no way you’ve heard of every company that might have a position that will interest you, but sometimes you’ll discover new ones by monitoring the people who have viewed your profile, and you can easily reach out to them, since they're already aware you exist.
Just remember, you should be using LinkedIn in a professional capacity – not sharing last weekend’s party pics. If you’re careful to post relevant industry-related articles or status updates and use professional language to describe yourself in your profile, you shouldn’t have any reason to worry about keeping your profile open. While you may want to avoid clicking on the profiles of all your previous Tinder dates, your current or prospective business connections won’t be weirded out by seeing that you’ve viewed their profiles. And don’t you want to see who’s been clicking on you anyway? Trust us, the benefits far outweigh any negatives you may dream up.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan