Fearful LinkedIn UsersTrying to be “open” on LinkedIn? Or more intent on locking down your job search activity for privacy?

You MUST understand the site’s broadcast message types, Activity Broadcasts and Activity Feed, and the differences between them.

Often confused with each other, these controls allow messages to be widely distributed to other LinkedIn users, informing them of your activity (and basically prompting them to look at your Profile to interpret your actions).

Here’s a close-up look at the type of information you can control with Activity Broadcasts and Activity Feed settings — with key points on how to customize and maximize these messages for your job search:

1 – Activity Broadcasts.

Activity Broadcasts are the dead-giveaways sent out when you change your Profile. So, if you’re tweaking your Headline to arrive at the best fit, or finally populating your Profile with a ton of new data, this is the one to turn off first.

You can view your Activity Broadcast options by going to Settings, then “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts.”

Here, you only have On (“Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies”) and Off.

As you can see, this setting also gives your Connections a heads-up that you’ve written a Recommendation or are following Companies. These are rarely considered high-profile activities, but they’re included in LinkedIn’s definition of a Broadcast.

Typically, turning your Activity Broadcasts off during a job search is a good idea (even recommended by LinkedIn), since Profile updates are usually the first sign that you’re preparing for flight.

Another bonus:  if you’re trying out new Headlines or continually adding keywords, turning off Activity Broadcasts will prevent your contacts from being hammered during each iteration.

2 – Activity Feed.

Your Activity Feed is probably more confusing. This setting is for Status Updates (all those newly posted articles, Likes, Comments, etc. that scroll by on your Home page).

To see your Activity Feed options, go to Settings, then “Select who can see your activity feed.”

You have 4 choices here:

  • Everyone
  • Your network
  • Your connections
  • Only you

If you turn off your Activity Feed completely (Only You), then why bother issuing any updates? Most people post articles or comments to either initiate or participate in a conversation. Only You stops this activity cold.

If you choose any of the other options, you’ll need to decide just how open you’d like to be. Your Connections, for example, refers to all those users directly connected on LinkedIn, where you’ve either issued or accepted an Invitation request.

While an avid user may have thousands of Connections, this number will probably fall between 100 to 600 for many other LinkedIn accounts. Therefore, Your Connections will broadcast your status to a relatively small pool of users.

Your Network, on the other hand, is the HUGE number of people LinkedIn says you’re linked to (posted to the right on your Home page). For many users, this represents a network in the tens of thousands.

Everyone means all 220+ million site members!

So, if you’re interested in letting others know about your expertise, promoting yourself as a thought leader, or otherwise keeping employers in the loop on your great expertise and ROI, you might want to consider Your Network or Everyone as good options for the Activity feed.

Understanding how LinkedIn relays your activity to other users – and the control you have over these messages – can make the difference between being notable and open in your job search, or more private in your online activity. 

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– Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC