Over the past few years it has seemed like LinkedIn were posi­tion­ing them­selves to take over your pro­fes­sion­al address book. Through offer­ing CRM-like fea­tures, users were able to see a sum­ma­ry of their recent com­mu­ni­ca­tions with each con­nec­tion as well as being able to add their own notes and cat­e­gorise their con­nec­tions with tags. It appeared to be a rea­son­able strat­e­gy for the com­pa­ny, and many users took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to store valu­able busi­ness infor­ma­tion straight onto their con­nec­tions.

Then at the start of 2017 LinkedIn decid­ed to pro­gres­sive­ly foist a new user expe­ri­ence upon its users, and fea­tures like these dis­ap­peared overnight in lieu of a more ‘mod­ern’ inter­face. Peo­ple who grew to depend on this inte­gra­tion were in for a rude shock — all of a sud­den it was miss­ing. Did LinkedIn delete the infor­ma­tion? There was no pri­or warn­ing giv­en and I still haven’t seen any acknowl­edge­ment or expla­na­tion (leave alone an apol­o­gy) from LinkedIn/Microsoft on the inconvenience/damage caused.

If any­thing, this reveals the risks in entrust­ing your career/business to a pro­pri­etary cloud ser­vice. Par­tic­u­lar­ly with free/freemium (as in cost) ser­vices, the ven­dor is more like­ly to change things on a whim or move that func­tion­al­i­ty to a paid tier.

It’s anoth­er rea­son why I’ve long been an advo­cate for open stan­dards and free and open source soft­ware.

For­tu­nate­ly there’s a way to export all of your data from LinkedIn. This is what we’ll use to get back your tags and notes. These instruc­tions are rel­e­vant for the new inter­face. Go to your account set­tings and in the first sec­tion (“Basics”) you should see an option called “Get­ting an archive of your data”.

LinkedIn: Get­ting an archive of your data

Click on Request Archive and you’ll receive an e‑mail when it’s avail­able for down­load. Extract the result­ing zip file and look for a file called Contacts.csv. You can open it in a text edi­tor, or bet­ter yet a spread­sheet like Libre­Of­fice Calc or Excel.

In my copy, my notes and tags were in columns D and E respec­tive­ly. If you have many, it may be a lot of work to man­u­al­ly inte­grate them back into your address book. I’d love sug­ges­tions on how to auto­mate this. Since I use Gmail, I’m cur­rent­ly look­ing into Google’s address book import/export for­mat, which is CSV based.

As long as Microsoft/LinkedIn pro­vide a full export fea­ture, this is a good way to main­tain own­er­ship of your data. It’s good prac­tice to take an export every now and then to give your­self some peace-of-mind and avoid ven­dor lock-in.

This arti­cle has also been pub­lished on LinkedIn.

%d bloggers like this: