The short answer is no, not everyone can see your LinkedIn messages. LinkedIn has privacy settings that allow you to control who can view and access your messages and conversations.
Who can see your LinkedIn messages?
By default, the messages you send and receive on LinkedIn can only be seen by you and the person or people you are messaging. Your messages are private between you and the other party.
However, there are a few exceptions where others may be able to see your messages:
- LinkedIn administrators – LinkedIn employees are able to access and review messages in certain situations, such as investigating harassment or spam.
- Your linked connections – If you are messaging back and forth with a connection, they can see your messages to them.
- Group messages – If you participate in a group message with multiple LinkedIn connections, those connections in the group can see the messages.
Controlling your privacy settings
You can control some privacy settings for messages in your LinkedIn account settings:
- Profile viewing options – You can set who can see your LinkedIn profile. Setting to “Connections only” will limit profile views to just people you are connected to.
- Your contacts importing preference – You can opt out of allowing LinkedIn to use your email contacts for suggesting connections. This limits who can find and connect to you.
- Communication preferences – You can opt out of receiving messages from people you are not connected to. This will limit who can message you.
These settings limit the possibilities of getting unsolicited messages from people you don’t know or haven’t approved to connect with you. It helps keep your messages more private.
Blocking and reporting
If you receive inappropriate messages or spam, you can take action to block the sender:
- Click the “More” icon next to a message and choose “Block” to stop receiving messages from that person.
- Use the “Report” option to report abusive messages to LinkedIn.
- Adjust your settings to disallow messages from people you are not connected to.
Blocking and reporting messages helps keep your LinkedIn messaging secure and spam-free.
Conversations vs private messages
It’s important to understand the difference between private messages and group conversations on LinkedIn:
- Private messages are 1:1 communications that are only visible to you and the recipient.
- Group conversations include multiple participants and all participants can see the conversation messages.
So if you are discussing sensitive topics, keep the communication to a private message instead of a group conversation.
Should you connect first?
To keep your LinkedIn communication private and secure, it’s generally recommended to connect with someone first before messaging them.
When you message a connection directly, you can be confident the message will be private. Messaging someone you are not connected to risks the message being ignored or reported as spam.
Connecting first also builds rapport and trust before private communication. Nurture your network by connecting with members you would like to establish business relationships with.
Who can see InMail messages?
InMail is LinkedIn’s premium messaging system that lets you message anyone, even if you are not connected. This is different from standard messaging.
When using InMail, the privacy settings depend on your LinkedIn account type:
- On free accounts, InMail messages can be seen by the recipient and LinkedIn administrators.
- On premium accounts, InMail messages can only be seen by you and the recipient. LinkedIn does not access message content.
So with a premium account, InMail provides private, confidential messaging with your network contacts, even if you are not connected.
Tips for keeping LinkedIn messages private
Here are some best practices for keeping your LinkedIn messages private and secure:
- Be selective about who you connect with – vet connections and avoid spam accounts.
- Use LinkedIn’s privacy settings to limit visibility.
- Don’t participate in group conversations with untrusted connections.
- Block or report suspicious accounts or spam.
- Connect with someone first before messaging them.
- Upgrade to a premium account if you want to use private InMail.
- Avoid oversharing personal or sensitive information.
- If needed, have sensitive conversations off of LinkedIn platform.
Business & advertising considerations
For businesses and advertisers, it’s important to know LinkedIn messages sent to users you are not connected to will likely be marked as spam. Opt for InMail instead to securely contact potential customers or partners.
You should also be aware that LinkedIn’s advertising platform uses member activity data and messages to improve targeting. But specific message content remains private.
The bottom line
While LinkedIn provides the option to message anyone, the default and recommended practice is to limit messaging to your trusted connections. Use privacy settings, connect and vet contacts, and upgrade to premium if needed. This will keep your communications and profile private to just you and recipients.
LinkedIn helps facilitate business relationships, but continue to exercise caution and discretion when messaging, just as you would in any professional context.
Maintaining control over who can message you and being selective about who you message will ensure your LinkedIn communications remain confidential and productive.