How to Use LinkedIn Private Mode Effectively

14 mins

Wondering if you can look at your prospects’ profiles on LinkedIn without them knowing?

The answer is yes. This is called private mode LinkedIn or (incognito LinkedIn).

If you don’t want someone to get a notification that you viewed their profile, you’ll want to turn on private mode in LinkedIn.

If you don’t want your information to be shared and for people to not get a notification that you’ve viewed their profile – you can turn this on.

Is LinkedIn private mode really private? Or wondering if you should turn incognito LinkedIn on or off? 

We’ll cover all this, and more in detail below.

By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to use incognito LinkedIn to spy on profiles without them getting a notification, what to do if someone viewed your profile LinkedIn in private mode, and more.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is LinkedIn Private Mode and How to Turn it On
  • 5 Ways to Make the Most Out of LinkedIn Private Mode
  • Should You Activate Private Mode on LinkedIn?

Before we begin!

Did you know we’re constantly sharing the latest outreach hacks and successful campaigns – down to the exact templates and subject lines in our private Facebook group? Be sure to join the LinkedIn Outreach Family for all things email marketing and LinkedIn outreach as well!

Now, let’s go incognito and explore how to hide your activity on LinkedIn (and why you might want to do so).

Man putting on a hood

What Is Incognito LinkedIn And How Do I Turn It On? (2024)

First, let’s take a look at how to find out who viewed your LinkedIn profile.

When you go to your LinkedIn profile and scroll down to your dashboard, you can find the list of people (and their exact profiles) who clicked on your profile.

LinkedIn profile statistics

In there, you’ll find the analytics behind who viewed your profile. By default, if someone doesn’t have LinkedIn incognito mode turned on, you’ll be able to see who viewed your profile here.

LinkedIn profile analytics

Here, you can see who had private mode turned on or off.

If someone viewed your profile LinkedIn in private mode, people who viewed your profile will show up as just “1 LinkedIn member”. Meanwhile, if they had incognito mode LinkedIn turned off, you’ll see their full profile.

Additionally, you also get a separate notification if someone viewed your profile in the Notifications tab.

LinkedIn notification

If you turn off private mode in LinkedIn, other people will also be getting notifications that you clicked on their profile.

Now, let’s cover how to turn on private mode LinkedIn and some situations when you should do so, and when you should not.

Do I have to pay for incognito LinkedIn mode?

No, LinkedIn private mode is free and available to all users.

However, if you have a fere LinkedIn account, switching to incognito or semi-private modes will turn off “who’s viewed your profile” feature and erase your viewer history.

Additionally, you won’t be able to get information on who’s viewed your profile during the time spent in private mode.

Additionally, all other users using LinkedIn Sales Navigator (or other form of Premium account) will be able see these analytics and information despite time spent using incognito LinkedIn.

How to turn on incognito LinkedIn and view profiles anonymously

First, let’s take a look at how to turn on incognito LinkedIn so you can view profiles without them getting a notification.

1- Click on your LinkedIn profile picture at the top right and press Settings & Privacy.

turn off private mode in linkedin

2- Under Visibility of your profile & network, select Profile viewing options.

private mode in linkedin

3- Here, you can set up your profile viewing options into 3 types:

  1. Public version – They see your full name, role, and can click on your profile.
  2. Private profile characteristics – Shows your industry, current company, or job title.
  3. Private mode – Doesn’t show anything. Completely anonymous.

linkedin private mode after viewing

How does incognito LinkedIn mode work when visiting profiles?

Anyone can use private mode, whether they have LinkedIn premium or not.

However, if you DO have LinkedIn Premium, you’ll still NOT be able to view people visiting your profile with incognito turned on. This is just part of LinkedIn’s privacy policy.

Finally, one last privacy-related feature you need to know about is the “Viewers of this profile also viewed” option.

When checking someone’s profile, you might have noticed this featured on the right side of the page.

who viewed your profile on linkedin

The people also viewed feature is a box that shows some of the other LinkedIn member profiles that viewers of a profile have also looked at.

If you leave this feature turned on in your privacy settings, any customer or prospect who visits your profile is likely to see a list of your competitors or colleagues they can also check out.

If you’re not sure about this feature, here’s what you can do.

Go to your LinkedIn profile and under People also viewed:

  • If the list consists mostly of your competitors, turn this feature off.
  • If the list consists mostly of your colleagues, keep it on.

what happens if you turn off private mode linkedin

Different users have different reasons for using private mode in LinkedIn.

Some job-seekers prefer to stay anonymous while looking at different companies and employers at a particular company. While some sales specialists would rather their prospects get a notification that someone is checking out their profile to give a heads up before the outreach.

So, depending on your background and reasons, you can always turn this feature on or off at your convenience.

Now, we will take a look at some practical applications of private mode in LinkedIn and some different use cases.

5 Main Ways To Get The Most Out Of LinkedIn Incognito (Private) Mode When Doing Outreach

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of how to use LinkedIn private mode – depending on your objectives and campaign goals.

The 5 main use cases we’ll be looking at LinkedIn profile viewing options include:

  • Using incognito LinkedIn to study other profiles and optimize yours.
  • Using LinkedIn incognito mode for growing your network.
  • Private mode when doing LinkedIn lead generation and outreach.
  • Doing competitor research anonymously without them knowing.
  • And finally, using private mode if you’re a recruiter.

LinkedIn private mode for optimizing your profile

If you haven’t optimized your LinkedIn profile yet, it’s a good idea to turn on private mode.

When someone sees you visiting their profile, their first instinct is to visit your profile in return, and if relevant, send a connection request.

However, if your profile is still new and you’re still not done optimizing it, you’re not sending the right impression.

This way, you can study other LinkedIn profiles and look at sections you’re looking to optimize, based on what other people are doing.

Then, once your profile is finished and it’s sending the right impressions to relevant prospects, you can turn off incognito LinkedIn and start connecting with new people.

LinkedIn private mode for growing your network

Just getting started with LinkedIn?

Then you might find private mode very useful and you should consider turning it on.

This will help you stay anonymous while you’re looking around and working on optimizing your profile.

When your profile isn’t fully optimized, ideally, you shouldn’t be connecting with many people yet.

It’s unlikely they’ll connect with you if they don’t know what you do, how you can help them, and so on.

So, you might want to turn on LinkedIn private mode and take a look at LinkedIn profiles that are close to what you do.

Use them as inspiration and take notes on how you can improve your LinkedIn profile.

man taking notes gif

Once you feel your profile is ready, you can turn it back on. Then, when you’re ready to connect, you can mention in your connection request that you were viewing their profile and felt that you had to connect.

Not sure what to write in your connection request messages? No problem. Check out our guide on 10+ LinkedIn connection message templates!

Once you start growing your network, you can then focus more on your outreach campaigns and advanced LinkedIn lead generation tactics.

Be sure to check out our 7 essential rules for LinkedIn outreach for more info on how to optimize your profile and other outreach rules you need to keep in mind.

 LinkedIn private mode for lead generation

If you’re doing lead generation, you might want to turn off private mode in LinkedIn at first.

And then, turn it back on again when you’re doing outreach.

Here’s why:

When you’re creating a cold audience you want to reach out to, it’s better to not give it away that you’re going to message them – it’ll spoil the surprise.

Instead, when your LinkedIn profile is fully optimized, you have a list of leads, and you know what you’re going to say in your connection request and social selling messages, you can turn it back on.

This way, when you click on their profile to connect, they’ll get a notification that you viewed their profile. Then, in your connection request message, you can say how you came across something specific from when you were viewing the profile.

Something like:

“Hey {first_name}, Came across your profile from your latest post about using personalization for LinkedIn lead generation. I was wondering if you could share the Top 3 LinkedIn outreach strategies you mentioned in your summary? Thanks!”

Here’s why this works:

  • It’s personalized – By mentioning something specific from your lead’s profile or latest LinkedIn post, they’re more likely to connect with you.
  • It’s authentic – Because your LinkedIn private mode was turned off, they’ll get a notification you viewed their profile. They’ll know you weren’t lying and you actually took the time to explore their profile.
  • It strokes their ego – By referring to their authority and giving them a compliment, most leads will be more than glad to connect with you!

PS – Be sure to check out our guide on LinkedIn cold messages that get a ~49% reply rate for social selling templates that work.

To recap so far, if there’s a reason if you want someone to know you’ve viewed their profile, you should turn LinkedIn incognito mode off.

For example, imagine you’re doing LinkedIn outreach and say you were impressed by their LinkedIn profile. However, because you had LinkedIn private mode enabled, they won’t get the notification that you actually clicked on their profile. Making your outreach feel less authentic.

Meanwhile, if you’re studying your target audience or competitors, you should have LinkedIn incognito mode enabled.

With competitors, you don’t want them to know you’re studying their profiles. See more on this in the next step below.

And for your target audience, if you’re not ready to connect with them yet (e.g. unoptimized profile), there is no point in having private mode disabled.

LinkedIn private mode for doing competitor research

This is probably the most practical application of private mode.

If you’re spying on your competitors, you might want to avoid letting them know that you’re doing so and turn on LinkedIn incognito mode.

men spying behind the tree

When you’re not using LinkedIn to better understand your competition, you might also find the “People also viewed” feature useful for identifying opportunities.

You can also find other competitors and potential customers there.

PS – If you want to go after your competitors’ audience, you can also scrape their Twitter followers and reach out to them on LinkedIn. Check out our guide on using LinkedIn and Twitter to steal your competitor’s audience to learn how to scrape their profiles.

LinkedIn private mode for job recruiters

Work as a job recruiter or talent acquisition?

LinkedIn private mode can help you out as well.

The same concept mentioned for lead generation above applies here too.

Use LinkedIn private mode at the start of your research while putting together a list of strong candidates.

Then, stop using LinkedIn private mode after viewing the contacts you’re ready to message. 

When your prospects get a notification that an HR recruiter was going through their profile, they’ll know what to expect…

Meanwhile, if you’re just studying your prospects or looking for more information on potential candidates, you should enable LinkedIn private mode.

But if you’re a recruiter looking for suitable candidates, here’s another solution you might want to consider that involves LinkedIn automation and hyper-personalization.

Take it from us.

We didn’t want to run LinkedIn ads and many people are fed up with the same, boring recruiter messages.

So, to stand out, we used a dynamically personalized “Wanted” poster that would have unique information with each lead we reached out to.

wanted banner

With this clever integration, we then used Expandi (the world’s safest LinkedIn automation tool) for outreach.

  1. We exported a LinkedIn Sales Navigator search filter targeting project and scrum managers in our region.
  2. We set up custom social selling templates with a bit of clever copywriting and humor.
  3. Finally, we managed to stand out in our leads’ inbox and found someone interested to join our team!

People with a scrum master contract

Not bad, right?

Check out our full article on advanced LinkedIn dynamic personalization to learn how to set up a recruitment campaign like this, the exact templates we used, one and other outreach hacks.

Now, with all this in mind, let’s recap so far and take a look at when you should activate private mode on LinkedIn and when you should disable it.

Should You Activate Private Mode on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is all about networking and growing your network for new opportunities.

For that, it’s better to avoid using private mode for too long.

After all, if someone gets a notification you viewed their profile, they’ll probably reciprocate and view your profile in return.

Then, if your profile is fully optimized and you’re treating it like a landing page – they might even take the first step and send YOU a connection request themselves.

Or, alternatively, once you get a notification that someone viewed your profile – you can send them a request asking if there’s anything you can help them with (they might be interested in your services).

But if you’re concerned about your online privacy and you’re doing valuable research, you can use private mode to stay anonymous on the platform. Similarly, for any reason you don’t want your prospects to know about your brand (sales outreach, recruiting, etc.), you should disable private mode in LinkedIn.

All this to say, it depends entirely on your goals and objectives.

What’s The Difference Between LinkedIn Private Mode And Semi-Private Mode?

The main difference between LinkedIn’s private mode and semi-private mode is with its private profile characteristics and how they handle privacy.

If your LinkedIn profile is set to public (private mode disabled), they get to see your name and headline, and your profile picture, unless you’ve hidden it.

They can also click on your name and visit your full profile

what happens if you turn off private mode linkedin


To adjust your private profile characteristics, you can go to Privacy settings and specify for each profile section (Experience, Education, etc.) whether you want to make it public or allow only your connections to see it.

You can go to Privacy settings and specify for each profile section (Experience, Education, etc.) whether you want to make it public or allow only your connections to see it.

You can then go to Visibility settings and check a preview of your public profile, to make sure you’ve hidden anything that you don’t want to be available publicly. We highly recommend you hide any sensitive data.

That’s all for when your profile is public.

But what is the difference between private and semi-private browsing mode? Also, what happens if I turn off private mode on LinkedIn

If you go fully private, people will just be notified that someone visited their profile. That’s it. No further information.

private mode linkedin

However, if you opt for a semi-private mode, people will be able to see some of your profile characteristics, like your job title or industry. 

They still won’t be able to identify you, because they don’t get to see your name or the exact name of the company you work for. 

If you’re browsing in semi-private mode, a notification they get may look like this: Founder in the SaaS industry from Chicago Metropolitan Area visited your profile.

Is LinkedIn Private Mode Available Only For Premium Accounts?

LinkedIn private mode is available both for free and for Premium Linkedin accounts. But there’s one huge difference to keep in mind, with regards to how they treat anonymity.

If you have a free account, yes, you can use private mode, but at the same time, you won’t be able to see who viewed your profile either.

It’s a trade-off situation.

On the other hand, if you have a Premium Linkedin account, you can browse all the profiles you want using private mode and no one will be able to see that you viewed their profile. Even if they have a Premium account as well.

At any moment, you can also access the list of people who visited your profile in the last 90 days. 

That way, you get the best of both worlds. Being able to check who is visiting your profile while also keeping your privacy.

On the con side, even with a Premium subscription, you won’t be able to see the details of Linkedin users who visited your profile using a private mode. It’s just part of the Linkedin privacy policy.

Let’s analyze this trade-off in more detail.

What Are The Downsides Of Using LinkedIn Private Mode?

Private mode in LinkedIn comes with many advantages, but it won’t magically fix all of your problems. 

We want to be realistic and point to some downsides so that there are no surprises when you switch to private mode.

Losing your data 

By now, you know that if you have a free Linkedin account and turn on private mode, you won’t be able to see who viewed your profile.

This, on its own, means missing out on potential new connections, leads, and opportunities.

But did you know that you’ll also lose all previous data, meaning that you won’t be able to see who visited your profile before you even turned on private mode?

So, if that’s something important to you, before turning on private mode, make sure to check who visited your profile and maybe even take a screenshot as a reminder.

When you turn off LinkedIn private mode with a free account, the option to see who viewed your profile will be back in under 24 hours.

However, even then you’ll never be able to check who visited your profile during that period of time when you were in private mode.

Losing networking opportunities

Before anything else, Linkedin is a business networking website

That said, we can compare browsing in private mode with going to a networking event with a mask that’s covering your whole face. 

can linkedin premium see anonymous

What’s the point of networking if no one will be able to recognize you after the event?

We know that you have your reasons for using a private mode, but it shouldn’t become your default mode.

Let’s do a quick experiment.

Let’s say someone is browsing Linkedin in a regular mode for a week.

And then they switch to private mode and keep browsing in private mode for a week.

Most likely, what’s going to happen is that the number of connection requests they get will decrease.

Because many people have a tendency to send you a connection request if they see that you’ve viewed their profile and that you have something in common (mutual connections, same industry or background).

With private mode, you’ll get fewer of those requests

And you’re missing out on the chance to connect with prospects or potential business partners.


If you’re doing LinkedIn lead generation and outreach, you might want to keep private mode turned on.

With Expandi, your prospects will get a notification because your account will be visiting their profiles before sending a request.

Then, in your request, you can mention how you were browsing through their profile and felt the need to reach out.

If you want to keep your outreach as authentic as possible, it’s also important you connect with people relevant to your target audience.

With LinkedIn automation, you have much more choices to set up your outreach campaigns and strategies to contact your leads.

As an added benefit, there are also many ways you can stand out (hyper-personalization, automated follow-ups, etc).

All this is of course automated. So, you won’t be spending time connecting with your prospects one-by-one.

Ready to get started using LinkedIn automation to make the most out of your outreach efforts?

Get started with a free 7-day trial here.

  1. We’re constantly sharing the latest outreach templates and subject lines you can use in your marketing campaigns in our private Facebook group. Be sure to join the LinkedIn Outreach Family today!

Then, if you’re looking to level up your LinkedIn marketing, be sure to check out the following guides too:


Do I have to pay for Linkedin private mode?

No, you can turn on LinkedIn private mode with a free account with just a few clicks. However, the only downside you might encounter doing so with a free account is that you won’t be able to see who viewed your profile. If you want to find out who viewed your LinkedIn profile anonymously, you’ll need LinkedIn Premium, which does cost money.

Can people still see me if I am in private mode?

No, if you are viewing other profiles with LinkedIn private mode enabled, they won’t get a notification. Even if someone has a LinkedIn Premium subscription, they won’t see you visiting their profiles with private mode.

How to turn on private mode on LinkedIn?

To turn on private mode on LinkedIn, go to Settings, click on Visibility, and select Profile viewing options. There, you’ll have 3 options: private, semi-private, and public. Private mode means people will just be notified that someone anonymous visited their profile, while with semi-private mode, they’ll be able to see only some of your characteristics (e.g. job title, company, or industry).

Is private mode on LinkedIn really private?

Yes, when using LinkedIn incognito, there’s no way for other members to block or prevent you from viewing their profiles in private mode.

Should I be private or public on LinkedIn?

That depends. For example, if you’re studying prospects, potential recruits, or your LinkedIn profile is not ready yet, you should keep incognito LinkedIn on so you don’t send the wrong impression. But if you’re focusing on growing your network, you should turn private mode off.

Can LinkedIn Sales Navigator users see private viewers?

No, there is no way for LinkedIn Premium users to see profile information of people using incognito. Similarly, you can’t prevent anyone from browinsg your profile in incognito mode.


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