Browsing LinkedIn Profiles in Private Mode: A Guide

Created On:
June 12, 2023
Updated On:
March 14, 2024
LinkedIn Private Mode

Ever wanted to go incognito on LinkedIn - to put simply, visited a profile in LinkedIn private mode? 

I bet you have because everybody does. The reasons can be several 👇

  • Researching about prospects before sending cold message
  • Networking
  • Checking out competitor’s profile
  • Stalking your ex

Etcetera. The bottom line in all the above scenarios is one—being discreet. You don’t want your prospects to know that you are checking their profile immediately before sending the cold message

Whatever your reason is, you want that to be a secret. To do that successfully, you need to know how to view a profile in LinkedIn private mode. 

Read this article till the end to know what is private and semi-private mode in LinkedIn and how to turn it on. The last section in this article contains the PROS & CONS of using LinkedIn privacy mode.

What is LinkedIn Private Mode?

LinkedIn Private Mode, also known as "Anonymous Browsing" or "Private Profile Characteristics," is a setting on LinkedIn that allows you to browse profiles without revealing your own identity. When you enable Private Mode, your name and other details will be hidden when you visit other LinkedIn users' profiles.

When you have Private Mode enabled, you won't be able to see the names of other LinkedIn users who visit your profile. Instead, you'll see the same generic information like "LinkedIn Member" or "Anonymous LinkedIn Member."

How to Find Profile Viewing Options in LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform for marketers, founders, workers, etc. For a social network with like-minded people, you need to profile browse many accounts. 

On LinkedIn, there are 3 profile viewing options. But, how to find the profile viewing options?

Step 1: Log in to your LinkedIn account

Log in to the LinkedIn account for which you want to set the profile viewing option. 

Use your email address and password to log in. 

Step 2: Go to the “Me” tab on the upper-right corner

Private Profile View Mode in LinkedIn

Click on the “Me” tab on the top right of the page. There you will see the below profile settings:

Settings & Privacy

Posts and Activity
Job Posting Account

Step 3: Click on the “Settings & Privacy” option. 

Click on the “Settings & Privacy” option. It will lead you to a page like this:

Step 4: Click on “Visibility”

Click on the visibility options to reach the final step. 

On clicking it, you will reach a page like this. 

Step 5: Click on the “Profile viewing options”

On clicking the “Profile viewing options”, you find three choices.

  1. Your name and headline
  2. Private profile characteristics 
  3. Private mode
Profile Viewing Options in Linkedin

Profile Viewing LinkedIn - Options To Explore

Read this section to understand which option means what.

Option 1: Your Name and Headlines

On clicking the “Profile viewing options”, you will find three choices:

  1. Your name and headline
  2. Private profile characteristics 
  3. Private mode

The first option is “Your name and headline”. If you set this regular mode then every time you view a profile, that person will see your name, profile picture, and headline in the “Who's Viewed Your Profile” section.

In this setting, you can also view “Who's Viewed Your Profile”. 

Click on this option and then click on “save, if privacy isn't your priority.  

Option 2: Private Profile Characteristics

The second option is “Private Profile Characteristics”. If you set this option then every time you view a profile, that person will see you as “someone from LinkedIn” in the “Who's Viewed Your Profile” section. 

Sometimes, it also shows your profile characteristics such as current job titles, company name, university/school, and industry will be shown to the person’s profile you are viewing. For example, Manager at Smartlead, Someone at Dunder Mifflin, or Student at Oxford University), etc. 

In this setting, you can’t view your “Who's Viewed Your Profile”. Also, choosing this option will erase your previous data on “Who's Viewed Your Profile”

Click on this option and then click on “save, if you want to keep it semi-private.  

Option 3: LinkedIn Private Mode

The second option is “Private Mode”. If you set this option then every time you view a profile, that person will see you as a “LinkedIn Member” in the “Who's Viewed Your Profile” section. 

It doesn’t show your profile details or characteristics such as job title, company name, university/school, industry, etc. to the person’s profile you are viewing. 

In this setting, you can’t view your “Who's Viewed Your Profile”. Also, choosing this option will erase your previous data on “Who's Viewed Your Profile”

Click on this option and then click on “save, if you want to keep it private. This is how you view profiles in private mode on LinkedIn.

What is Semi-Private Mode in LinkedIn

The semi-private mode on LinkedIn is the second profile viewing option—Private Profile Characteristics.

On choosing this setting, you let LinkedIn reveal your job/industry/university details to the person’s profile you are viewing.

It means they will find your name as “Someone from Smartlead” in the “who’s viewed your profile” section. 

On choosing this option, you leave a hint for the person whose profile you checked without revealing your name. Also, they will get separate notifications when you check their profile. This is the same for both LinkedIn premium and basic accounts. 

Another important fact about semi-private mode is that you can’t see who viewed your profile in a basic LinkedIn account. However, if you upgrade your LinkedIn subscription plans into premium membership, you can check who saw your profile. 

Semi-private mode is not as hidden as “private mode”. On viewing somebody’s profile in private mode, your profile will come up as a “LinkedIn member” in the  “who’s viewed your profile” section.

Why Should You Use LinkedIn Private Browsing Mode?

Linkedin Private Profile Viewing
Image Credits

Besides providing privacy and anonymity, LinkedIn's private viewing mode can be beneficial for several reasons, such as:

  • For networking
  • For hiring new candidates
  • For prospecting
  • For research and marketing insights

For Networking

Sometimes, when you view someone's profile on LinkedIn, they receive a notification or see that you've visited their page. This can create a certain level of pressure or expectation to connect immediately. 

Using private viewing mode lets you explore other professionals' profiles without feeling the pressure to connect or engage instantly. You can take time to assess their background, interests, and expertise before deciding whether to reach out.

Using LinkedIn privacy mode helps you provide a more informed and thoughtful networking experience.

For Hiring

Using LinkedIn's Private Profile Viewing Mode for hiring enables you to assess potential candidates without revealing your identity upfront. This way, the candidate doesn’t get to modify their profile matching the job details and you get to the candidate’s profile as it is and judge if they are the right fit. 

It also allows you to conduct a more impartial initial screening, focusing solely on qualifications and experience. 

For Prospecting

Using the private viewing mode for LinkedIn prospecting enables you to research potential leads discreetly. You can explore their profiles without alerting them, avoiding any unprepared interactions. 

This way, you can gather valuable insights on their professional background, interests, and connections, allowing you to tailor your outreach and approach with a better understanding of their needs and interests.

This clearly increases the chance for conversion. 

For Research and Market Insights

Private viewing mode can be handy when conducting market research. This is also a great way to check what your competitors are doing, so that you can be one step ahead of them in terms of strategies.

By anonymously browsing competitor profiles or potential clients, you can gain valuable insights without revealing your interest or intentions.

PROS & CONS of Private Mode in LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a place where industry professionals learn about each other. This is why, as exciting as it sounds, the incognito mode option comes with both pros & cons. 


Prospecting Anonymously

Many beginner marketers use LinkedIn’s search engine to research and make a list of leads before launching outreach campaigns. In such cases, it’s better to use LinkedIn private browsing mode to find cold audiences. 

Because it helps to keep your activity unknown to their potential business partners before sending a connection message

You might want to make your prospects believe that you are following them for a while by using personalized bits of information. This is where the private mode comes in handy. Viewing profiles in private mode prevents repelling customers. 

Researching Competitors’ Strategies

We all know competitors are the greatest teachers, especially in B2B business. You will learn what works in the market and what doesn’t by observing your competitor’s activity on LinkedIn. 

But, do you want to notify your competitors?

Of course, not.

Select the “private mode” in profile viewing options to keep your activity hidden. 

Find Job Seekers

Job recruiters and HRs can use private or semi private to search for job seekers. This setting helps them remain in anonymous mode while searching for the right candidates, going through their accounts, and checking their career so far. 


Losing “Who Viewed Your Profile” Data

Private mode viewers lose the previous data on “Who Viewed Your Profile”. You will no longer have access to see who has viewed your profile in the past. 

This is the biggest downside of choosing these privacy settings. To keep the data,try taking a screenshot beforehand or making a list of people who viewed. 

Affects Your LinkedIn Presence

Participating in events and discussions in private mode may affect your LinkedIn image. After all, everybody is using LinkedIn to create an online presence. 

Making “private mode” or the “semi-private” a default mode is a bad idea for personal branding. It might affect the number of connection requests you would receive and eventually decline your reach. 

Final Thoughts!

Overall, “private mode” is a great setting for LinkedIn users. It’s nothing less than Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. It’s a superb option for researching your competitor’s LinkedIn activities and prospecting. 

Don’t ignore the cons of private browsing mode. Take a screenshot of the existing data on “who viewed your profile” before changing the settings. 


How do I view a LinkedIn profile anonymously?

To set the LinkedIn profile viewing option, log in to your account, click on the "Me" tab, and choose "Settings & Privacy” option. Next, click on the "Visibility" tab and select "Profile viewing options”. From there, you can choose your profile viewing mode to either private or public.

It is how you can browse profiles discreetly without revealing your identity when visiting others' profiles.

Can premium members see private mode?

If you have a premium LinkedIn profile, you can browse in private mode and see who's checking out your profile. However, even as a premium user, you won't be able to see the private mode viewers of your profile due to LinkedIn's user privacy policies.

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Author’s Details

Rajnish Das

Rajnish Das is an in-house writer at SmartWriter and SmartLead. She writes product-oriented, data-driven content for B2B SaaS audiences and educates them on marketing and sales topics. Her expertise includes outbound marketing techniques like cold emailing and LinkedIn outreach.


Edited by:

Charu Mitra Dubey


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