Dear LinkedIn: Please Let Me Send Someone Who Viewed My Profile A Message

volume(yet) another suggestion for LinkedIn.

I find it interesting that a lot of the LinkedIn teacher types talk about how wonderful Who Viewed Your Profile is because these are people that have shown an interest in you etc. etc. So you should contact them.

My question is: How?

Well, if you are already connected, you can.

But if you are not, LinkedIn allows you to do is to send a request to connect to the other person. But  LinkedIn doesn’t want you connecting with people you don’t know well, and by definition, someone whose existence you are solely aware of    because they just looked at your profile doesn’t exactly qualify them as someone you know well.


If you have a premium subscription, you can send an InMail. So contacting the person who viewed your profile is wonderful advice only if you have a premium subscription. But even then there’s something odd about it costing you ten dollars (or whatever an InMail costs these days) to contact someone who looked at your profile.

So why doesn’t LinkedIn let you send a message, one time, to those people who have viewed your profile?

It could be set up like an invite to connect with the ability to customize it. This would be a great way to encourage conversations, encourage more profile views, more interactions, more opportunities to make new connections, and more time spent on LinkedIn.  

And no, I don’t think this would inhibit profile views as you can always ignore anyone sending you a message (though that would be kind of rude), or you can just make yourself anonymous.

More opportunities for interaction. What’s not to like?


Who Viewed Your Profile And The Riddle Of The Anonymous Viewer


and solving the problem of anonymous profile viewers

LinkedIn users love “Who Viewed Your Profile”. They love it enough that LinkedIn lists the expanded Who Viewed Your Profile first in the list of features for the premium business subscriptions.  

But while Who Viewed Your Profile may be the most loved feature on LinkedIn, Anonymous profile views appearing on WVYP may be the most hated. Everyone hates that bland gray head and shoulder shape showing up. “You can see and read all about me, but I can’t see you.” If you ask people what they think of Anonymous profile viewers, words like “creepy”, “lurker”, and “stalking” come up.

As much as everyone hates anonymous profile views though, they are not going away. Recruiters make use of this feature and it appeals to them. LinkedIn makes almost two thirds of their revenue from recruiters. I don’t care how much you or I hate it, money talks. And besides, you agreed to it in the User Agreement. End of story.

And while I may not like anonymous profile viewers, I accept that it’s the way things are on LinkedIn, but I have one question:

Why does LinkedIn show us anonymous profile views at all?

In thinking about this I came up with the following facts:

  • I can’t connect with an anonymous profile viewer
  • I can’t contact an anonymous profile viewer
  • I can’t find out who an anonymous profile viewer is

What is the point of giving us information that we cannot use? LinkedIn might as well just show me the current weather in Yokohama, Japan. Can’t do anything with that either, but at least I won’t get pissed off about it.

So here’s my solution: Just stop showing anonymous profile viewers.

Aside from having no practical value, the fact remains that LinkedIn doesn’t have to show you that someone viewed your profile, and to my knowledge this isn’t an issue on other social networks. For example, I haven’t seen a huge demand for a list of the people that look at someone’s Facebook page or Twitter profile. It seems this is only on LinkedIn, and only because LinkedIn notifies people that it is happening.

In any other company if someone on the product management team went, “we have an idea for a feature. It will pop up from time to time in front of our users, have no practical value and it will absolutely infuriate them. What do you think?”  I think that feature would not get implemented. Somehow on LinkedIn it was.



Who Viewed Your Profile? Possibly A Bot, That’s Who

pegsWe will get to the bots in a minute, but first, for those of you who hate anonymous profile views, a backgrounder:

Human resources and recruiting people like being anonymous when they are working on LinkedIn and this makes sense. Let’s say you were a recruiter and looked at three hundred LinkedIn profiles today, discarding almost all of them because the fit wasn’t quite right. If you are not anonymous, a certain percentage of the people you viewed are going to try and contact you to find out more. And you are going to just repeat over and over things like: “I am looking for an Electrical Engineer with at least five years of experience designing RF Amplifiers. You don’t quite fit that requirement. Sorry.”

Solution: be anonymous, and you don’t have to deal with all this inquiries.

If this seems harsh or mean, too bad. LinkedIn derived 64% of their their revenues from their Talent Solutions group last quarter. You most likely have a free account. So does LinkedIn listen to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue or you? Get over it.

LinkedIn has tried to soften these anonymous viewers by re-labelling them as working in “private mode”. LinkedIn has also finally offered a bit of explanation as to who these people may be and why they choose to cloak their identities: “Some LinkedIn members, like recruiters and business professionals, choose to browse profiles in private mode to find candidates, sales leads, potential clients, or business partners” (quoted from the LinkedIn Help Center explanation of “Private Mode” )

So whatever you call them, anonymous viewers are not going to go away.

But the real problem with profile views these days is becoming the proliferation of automated profile viewing software. This is software that scrolls through and looks at LinkedIn profiles one after another.

The increasing use of this software leads to Monty Python like exchanges like this one:

Me: You looked at my profile

Other person: No I didn’t

Me: Yes you did

Other person: I most certainly did not

Me: Two days ago, on Tuesday. It shows right here on my “Who Viewed Your Profile” page!

Other person: “Oh, Tuesday, I know what that was. I use “LoonyLeadLauncher” software. It  takes control of my LinkedIn account and looks at hundreds of  LinkedIn profiles every day. It collects the info from of all the profiles and puts it in a spreadsheet.”

Me: And then what do you do with it?

Other person: I haven’t figured that out yet. But but you should see this spreadsheet! It’s huge. It has everyone on it.

Me: Okay, I think we’re done here.

Other person: Wait! Wanna connect? What was your name again?

More and more the answer to the question of “how many profile views do you get?” is “who cares?” Unless you see people you recognize in Who’s Viewed Your Profile, you can’t tell if your viewers are real people or bots those people rent to look at your profile and scrape your data from it.

So the only person I am sure really viewed my profile is the anonymous one.