Downloading & Backing up Connections – the LinkedIn mini-saga

LinkedIn connections download sagaWell, there’s been a bit of a hoohah over the past week regarding downloading of your connections’ details on LinkedIn … and, in the end, a lot of non changes. Not a good topic for a blog post you might think. Possibly … but I think it’s worth a brief synopsis of what went on and where we are now.

It all relates to our ability to create a download from our LinkedIn account of our connections, the people that we have spent time connecting with and engaging with on LinkedIn. We have always been able to take a download of this information instantly with name details, email, company and job title of the people we are connected to. They are our business connections, so why not?

Anyway, on Wednesday last week LinkedIn, unannounced, closed down that particular option. The “unannounced” part was not a great surprise … LinkedIn often changes things and then waits for people to find out, there is no clear mechanism for announcing them so it relies on people like myself to do so and then it seeps out into general consciousness. In this case, they had in fact replaced it with a mechanism that they introduced at the start of the year where you can download a full archive of all your LinkedIn activity, so there was an alternative.

The issue was that this could take up to 72 hours to arrive since you had to request it from LinkedIn rather than do it yourself.

Result: all hell broke loose! Lots of posts, lots of activity on Twitter

and this in turn lead to articles on Forbes, CIO and Entrepreneur amongst others

Well, to cut a long story short, today LinkedIn reinstated the original set and, in a post on their Security blog (surely you read the Security blog daily, didn’t you?), they explained what they were trying to achieve, announced they were reversing the change and outlined the process going forward – surely, something that would have been sensible to do the first time around, thus avoiding all the unnecessary Social Media unpleasantness that followed. Lesson learned? We’ll see.

What’s the current situation?

Well, it’s all very much back to normal, at least for the time being. You have two options:

i) Instant download via CSV file

This is where it always used to be, accessible via the Connections tab in the main menu and then via the “cog” icon in the top right hand corner of the screen. There is allows you to do a “self service” download of your connections with 5 key fields (1st name, surname, email address, company, job title) being included.

A short link to the page is Export Connections and there is still a second legacy page from long, long ago at their Export Tool

ii) Full data download

This is the full data download that LinkedIn imposed (briefly) as the sole solution and that you can request from LinkedIn themselves. They state it can take up to 72 hours but I have to say that mine arrived in under 24 hours when I was trying it out as a result of this past week’s shenanigans.

This is something that I recommended (and still do) in any case at the start of the year in one of myLinkedIn housekeeping tips posts as a way to keep a full back up of your data. Using the following link, you need to request the information from Linkedin – it’s simple button press as shown below:


and when it’s ready you get an email from LinkedIn informing you and a link back to a page where you can then download that information.

It gets delivered as a series of individual csv files and it’s actually really comprehensive so, outside of the Connections discussion here, I’d recommend you get your archive and for those “data interested” ones among you there is a lot of value that can be gleaned … and a lot of potential sales value too, but that’s for another post. What it does contain though includes:

Account information:
* Registration information
* Login history including IP records
* Email address history and statuses
* Account history including account closures and reopens

Other information:
* Name information including the current name on your account and any previous name changes
* A list of your 1st degree connections
* Photos that have been uploaded to your account
* Endorsements you’ve received
* List of skills on your profile
* Recommendations given and received
* Group contributions
* Your search history
* Content you’ve posted, shared, liked, or commented on
* Mobile apps you’ve installed
* Ads you’ve clicked on
* The targeting criteria LinkedIn uses to show you ads

So, anyway, as I said at the start – it’s been quite a week.

As it happens, we’re back to where we started in terms of what’s available to us for downloading connection information but you wonder if there’s a slight realisation on LinkedIn’s part that sometimes … just sometimes … it might be better not to think that members of the site are just going to roll over and accept changes which interfere with their business use of this site and maybe they should think of the implications before blindly making unannounced changes in the future. On verra …

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