LinkedIn is a useful professional resource, but its default settings can result in you feeling overwhelmed with updates about colleagues and can compromise your privacy if you're updating in order to look for a new job. Here are the options you should make sure you set.
Virtually all of these changes are made from the 'Privacy and Settings' option on LinkedIn. To access this, hover over your picture in the top-right corner, then select 'Review' next to 'Privacy & Settings'.
Those settings are grouped into four main areas: Profile; Communications; Groups, Companies & Applications; and Accounts. We'll highlight the key ones to check in each area.
Turn on/off your activity broadcasts This is switched on by default, but it's sensible to switch it off. Otherwise, every change you make ends up broadcast on your LinkedIn feed, and will potentially show up in emails to others.
Select who can see your activity feed If you're make a lot of changes, consider switching this to 'Only you' while making alterations. Otherwise, 'your connections' is a reasonable choice.
Other settings in the privacy area can be used to restrict whether people can see your connections and photo. (If you're not comfortable with connections seeing your photo, then I'd suggest LinkedIn really isn't the place for you anyway.)
If you want to stop your LinkedIn page being visible on Google and other search engines, click on 'Edit your public profile' and make sure 'Make my public profile visible to no one' is ticked. You may also want to alter your public profile URL, so any existing links to that page will no longer work.
If you just want to stop LinkedIn incessantly bombarding you with emails, check out this bookmarklet which easily changes all the relevant settings to not send you mail.
Otherwise, click on 'Select the type of messages you're willing to receive' and choose the types that you're interested in from within LinkedIn itself.
Turn off/on Partner InMail By default, you'll be set to receive messages (that is, spam) from LinkedIn marketing partners. Be sure to click here and turn this option off.
Groups, Companies & Applications
Most of the settings in here relate to more advanced LinkedIn use, such as setting up groups or applying for jobs. Less committed LinkedIn users won't need to worry.
The one exception? Click on 'Turn on/off data sharing with 3rd party applications' and make sure it isn't ticked if you don't want your contact details available to other apps connected to LinkedIn.
The key setting here is Manage security settings. Tick the box under 'Secure connection' to make sure you always access LinkedIn securely. This will stop your data being easily scrutinised when using public Wi-Fi networks. (It can cause problems with some mobile LinkedIn apps, though.) This is also where you can set up two-factor authentication for signing into LinkedIn, which is also a useful protection, especially if you have an extensive LinkedIn network.