Combine-Harvester - Harvesting Your LinkedIn Data

Downloading and Using the Info That LinkedIn Keeps on You

Part 2 of a Series on some of LinkedIn’s recent changes

Recently, LinkedIn began allowing members to download a large amount of the data that LinkedIn stores about them, including a list of all their LinkedIn connections. This is a terrific opportunity for members to not only help manage and backup their LinkedIn contacts, but also to view what info that LinkedIn keeps on you. I recently downloaded my data, and I was surprised at some of the things I found.

Really? How do I download my own LinkedIn data?

There are a couple of ways to get your data, but the simplest way for you to start it is this:

  1. Log on to LinkedIn with your browser (not with a phone or tablet app).
  2. On the far right of the LinkedIn menu, click or tap on your small image. Select Privacy and Settings. You will probably have to provide your password again.
  3. On the resulting settings page, click or tap on the bottom tab, Account. Then select the “Request an archive of your data” option. On the resulting page, click on the Request archive box to request your data.
  4. In 3 days or less, you will receive an email from LinkedIn Security, with a link to download your data. Alternatively, return to settings and follow the same path to click on a button to download.
  5. You need to download the file within three days of when they send you an email. Since it may take one to three days to send the email, you need to monitor your email inbox for the link. If you miss the download period, don’t worry. You can make another request whenever you like.
  6. Note where your downloaded file is going to land. For most people, it will be in their Downloads folder.

    Screenshot - Harvesting Your LinkedIn Data

    This is a list of the files that LinkedIn sends you in a zipped (compressed) file folder.

  7. The file will be called something along the lines of LinkedInDataExport followed by the date it was created, such as: LinkedInDataExport_12-10-2014. In Windows, the file icon should look like a folder with a zipper on it. That’s because it was created as a Zipped archival file. In Windows, you should be able to double-click on it and view the contents before unzipping it. (It’s built-in in Windows 7 and 8.) Others may need a utility program to examine or unzip the file. They are easy to find and install from the Web.
  8.  When you extract the files, do the entire folder at once. Save the program in a folder called, LinkedIn Data or some such thing. You can call it whatever you want, really, but be sure you remember the name and where you put it.
  9. The first file you might want to open is the README file, which is a text file describing all the other files in the folder.
  10.  When you look at the list of files, most of them are described as CSV files. CSV stands for “Comma Separated Value” or “Character Separated Value.” What that means is that you can import this file into any spreadsheet program, such as Excel, LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice, Google spreadsheets and others. (You could also import it into a Word table, if you are math-sheet-o-phobic.Tractor-Harvester - Harvesting Your LinkedIn Data

Here are specific instructions for the different common spreadsheets:

If you have no experience with using or opening CSV files, or limited experience with spreadsheets, here are instructions for many of the most popular spreadsheet programs:

Opening your CSV file in LibreOffice or OpenOffice Calc

First, create a new, blank spreadsheet using either LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice. From the File menu, select Open. Choose which LinkedIn data file you want to import.

You will see an Import box, which gives the option to choose which delimiter to use to separate fields. The correct option is Tabs. (My first inclination was to select commas, which did not work very well.)

This should then result in a spreadsheet with all the data divided up into cells, rows and columns. If you have any experience at all with spreadsheets, you should find the format familiar. Save the opened file as a spreadsheet (.ODS format).

Opening your CSV file in Microsoft Excel

In Excel, you use the import wizard. First select Delimited as the file type (as opposed to fixed length), then “Tab” as the delimiter in the next window, and “General” as the column data format. (It might be a bit different, depending on the version of Excel you use.)

Click on OK (or Finish). Save the file as an Excel (.xlsx or .xls) file.

Opening your CSV file in Google Sheets (from Google Drive)

First, create a new spreadsheet in Google Drive. Then, from the File menu, select Import… (NOT Open). You need to select Upload and choose the unzipped LinkedIn file you want to open from your computer. Then click, OK.

An Import File window should open. In Import Action select Create New Spreadsheet. Below, under Separator character, choose Select Automatically or Tab.

Click on the Import Button. You will then have to then click on the new “Open Now” link to open the file.

Google Sheets does the same thing as the other spreadsheets, but I found that Google showed quotation marks around the text in each cell. If you find the same thing, there’s one more step.

To get rid of the quotation marks, select Find and Replace… under the Edit menu, type one, straight quotation mark () in the Find field. Leave the Replace field blank. Click on Replace all. When it’s finished (it takes less than a second), click on Done. Save your file as a spreadsheet.

Opening your CSV file in Softmaker’s Planmaker spreadsheet program

Start up Planmaker (the spreadsheet module for the German Softmaker office suite). Select Open under the File menu. In the Open dialogue, select the unzipped file you want to open. From here, I found the default settings were fine, all available from one import window:

Character set: Unicode

Data format: Separator between fields

Under Options:

Separator: Tab

Text Marker: Quotation Marks

The only adjustment I made to the default settings was to change the Number of header lines from 0 to 1.

If you use almost any other spreadsheet program on this planet, some variation of the above settings should work fine.

Looking at the files.

Some of the files simply open up as a single column with a list of items. Others, like the Connections, give you a richer set of data.

So, here is some of what I found:

Connections

The most important of these files is a list of your LinkedIn Connections. The file doesn’t include the exact same info as you see in LinkedIn when you click on Connections. The downloaded file only includes your first level LinkedIn connections. It does not include other contacts (people you follow on LinkedIn but are not connected to, and people from any contact list you connected to LinkedIn).

You won’t get your connections’ photos, either. Sadly, they don’t include your personal notes or the date of your last contact with the connection; that would have made the list much more useful. So you cannot sort your list by New or by Recent Conversation, as you can online.

The file does include: First name, Last name, email address, current employer and title. You can sort your spreadsheet by last name, current employer, current title.

If you are in sales, marketing or communications, you might be getting excited about this, already. Use this data responsibly and do not spam, please.

Other things you can find:

  • Info on your group posts going back a couple of years.
  • A list of every endorsement on your profile, who gave it and when.
  • 2 years’ worth of login attempts on your account, including which browser you used
  • Search terms you used, and more.

What can I do with this info?

Backup your LinkedIn connections.

Keep a backup of your connections.

Build a spreadsheet directory of your LinkedIn connections, which you can sort by name, title, company, even email.

With this, you can build a mailing list, but don’t spam them if you expect to keep them as connections.

From a spreadsheet, you should be able to import all your connections into a contact manager, such as Microsoft Outlook. (With Outlook, you might be able to do this directly from the CSV file, without using a spreadsheet.) You might also have tools to connect Outlook directly to LinkedIn, but I can’t test that for you since I no longer use Outlook. (Outlook here refers to the email/calendar/organizer Office application; not Outlook.com which is Microsoft’s online email hub.)

Checking Login Attempts

The Login attempts would be useful to see if anybody else was using your password to view your account. It doesn’t show unsuccessful attempts. Search here for suspicious activity, such as somebody else using your password to access your account.

By the way, this is the data that LinkedIn can check to see if anybody else is logging into your account (say, a spouse, a secretary, a virtual assistant, a profile consultant, or your boss). So this is the same LinkedIn data they use to see if you are violating your Terms of Service.

Likewise, you can check to see if anybody else is using your password for nefarious purposes. If so, you should change your password immediately.

If there’s any suspicious activity, also check your Email Addresses file to make sure nobody has added or changed any of your email addresses, too.

Check your search history

If you do a lot of complicated searches on LinkedIn, you can review your search criteria. (I was surprised at how detailed their records are.) No, this will not include any searches you do from Google or Bing when you are not logged in to LinkedIn.

Keep Track of your Endorsers

You can have a comprehensive and sortable list of all your endorsers, see who’s endorsed you the most, and for what.

Even if you resist quid pro quo arrangements for returning endorsements, you might want to see if there are people in your list who you can honestly endorse when you return to LinkedIn.

Other Info

Other files are simply a list of data, such as a list of your skills, your registered email addresses, and such. Nothing exciting, but good to have in case your profile is taken over, canceled by LinkedIn, or you accidentally delete your account.

Harvester and Truck

Do you have a creative idea for using your LinkedIn data? Please share in the comments, below.

Coming Soon

Next, learn about LinkedIn’s new permanent-editing mode for Profiles, being rolled out now.

The previous article in this series was LinkedIn Updates and You: New Pricing Plans.

Credits:

Title photo of horse-drawn combined harvester and thresher is by W. A. Raymond, dated 1903. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC. Adjusted for web display with Adobe Photoshop and Topaz Adjust.

Photo of small harvesting equipment is entitled “Harvesting Oats, Southeastern Georgia?” taken by Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990) in or around 1940. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, DC. Adjusted for web display with Adobe Photoshop and Topaz Adjust.

Photo of large combine and truck is used courtesy of “Dan” and FreeDigitalPhotos.net, dated 2011.

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