I was surprised that the new LinkedIn Export function got so little attention – and barely any comments on top of repeating the facts – in blogs and on Twitter. LinkedIn Export is, in fact, a big deal! Why? Well, up until now, LinkedIn has been expanding its import capabilities, providing Contacts in the personal accounts with a wide variety of ways to import data, and the Talent Pipeline in LIR (LinkedIn Recruiter) as part of that.
Export had only amounted to:
- PDF export of someone’s profile, available both from a personal account (with some restrictions based on the “social distance”) and from LIR.
- Connections export, available for people with not-too-many connections. (For numerous “open networkers” with thousands of connections, instead of exporting, LinkedIn creates an empty file named “export-action.txt”. It is a bug and it has been this way for a long time.)
That was it. The mass-export from LIR was eliminated some time ago.
Other major Social Networks do provide data export for their members:
- On Facebook, from the Settings, select “Download a copy of your Facebook data”
- On Twitter, from the Settings, select “Request your archive”
- On Google, use Google Takeout
… but LinkedIn didn’t. My personal concern has been that I don’t have any back-up of my LinkedIn data, yet the software is buggy and I can’t be sure that the data is kept safely.
As we know, LinkedIn has been cutting off its API access and fighting legal battles around access to its data. I don’t have the right background to interpret those developments in any depth, but it’s clear that there’s little hope for 3rd party software to take a footprint of a members’ LinkedIn data.
Here comes the news of the Export available. Whatever triggered the introduction of the Export feature, it’s definitely welcome news! Now a member can get a back-up of his/her LinkedIn data.
I am not going to list all the details on the export in this post; it’s done elsewhere. The Export function is outlined in the LinkedIn blog post “Giving Our Members More Control”. It is described on the help page “Downloading Your Account Data”. The downloaded data is annotated in this cope of the README file. (Some of the data is quite interesting to look at.)
I certainly recommend to get a back-up of your LinkedIn data.
Here are some notes on the Export.
1. Due to the new function, for the first time in a long time, “open networkers” can have a list of their connections exported. My own list in the export has roughly 8% fewer connections than I have in reality, but it’s still a big deal. (You may notice a slightly incomplete list in your export as well; I am not sure of the reason for that.) The exported file has the same columns that the existing “export contacts” provides (which, unfortunately, doesn’t include the location), so there’s no extra data, but for “open networkers”, this is our only chance to get the list.
2. The LinkedIn export data is not really all of the members’ data. As an example, the Contacts (other than Connections) are not included. As the help file says, “it [also] doesn’t include LinkedIn’s data such as information in People You May Know and Who’s Viewed Your Profile”. That’s OK; we still get much more than before.
3. There’s also a bit of a mystery with this part of the help page:
Why one doesn’t need to sign forms for some data and does for other data, and what this “other data” is, I don’t know. I did fill out the form about 3 weeks ago now and heard nothing since. If you have insights into that part, I’d be curious to hear.
As a side note, LinkedIn export was introduced as one piece of news along with a “security check” for members, the ability to see the list of your sessions. That is also a good thing, but is somewhat unrelated. Of course, both features give the users better control.
Bottom line, LinkedIn Export is a positive change and is not to be missed.