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.

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