Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

LinkedIn and Online Anonymity: What’s the Point?

By Dennis D. McDonald

I used to be amused at those who browse LinkedIn anonymously. After all, I thought, what good is online anonymity to a service that is promoting professional networking? The two seemed at odds with each other.

Now I understand the reasoning. We pay for our membership with dollars and/or our time in hopes we’ll connect with others. It’s just that some of those “others” aren’t ready to reveal themselves.

For corporate recruiters to be seen as researching in order to “poach” from the competition, revealing one’s identity could be seen as problematic. In this day and age there are so many avenues and reasons for researching one’s industry that NOT to be seen as researching the “lay of the land” could indicate a lack of smarts.

The same goes for job seekers. If you are a mid level professional there are many reasons to be researching other companies in your industry. Not to do so regularly suggests that you aren’t interested and that by itself might be bad for your career.

I figure, if someone sees me here on LinkedIn and they choose to be anonymous, what’s the point of my trying to contact them? There are plenty other people for me to chat up in connection with my consulting who aren’t hiding their identity. The same is true if the anonymous one is a headhunter. If what they see in my profile is not of interest, what’s the point of my trying to track them down and contact them if they don’t reach out to me?

Still, I do find myself wondering now and then what brought the anonymous ones in. LinkedIn provides meager data on where “profile views” come from, but what’s lacking is the “why” which is the really important thing to know.

Copyright © 2015 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. Dennis is a management consultant based in Alexandria, Virginia. His experience includes consulting company ownership and management, database publishing and data transformation, managing the integration of large systems, corporate technology strategy, social media adoption, statistical research, and IT cost analysis. Clients have included the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Library of Medicine. He has worked throughout the U.S. and in Europe, Egypt, and China. Dr. McDonald’s web site is located at and his email address is On Twitter he is @ddmcd.

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