LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking platform with over 800 million members. As a recruitment or sales professional, you likely want to leverage LinkedIn to reach qualified candidates or customers. One way to do this is by exporting and using someone else’s LinkedIn connections for prospecting.
Is It Possible to Export Someone Else’s LinkedIn Connections?
Yes, it is possible to export someone else’s LinkedIn connections with their permission. However, there is no direct way to export someone else’s connections from LinkedIn. You need to use some workarounds to get access to their connections list. Here are two popular methods:
Method 1: Ask Them to Share Their LinkedIn Network with You
The easiest way is to simply ask the person to share their LinkedIn connections with you. Here are the steps they need to follow:
- Log in to their LinkedIn account and go to My Network > Manage synced and imported contacts.
- Click the Export LinkedIn connections button.
- LinkedIn will prepare an archive of their connections which they can download.
- They can share this file with you to access their connections.
However, this method relies on the person voluntarily sharing their LinkedIn connections with you. They may be hesitant to share their entire network this way.
Method 2: Use a LinkedIn Connection Exporter Service
Several third-party tools and services are available that can export someone’s LinkedIn network for you if you have their login credentials. Some popular options include:
- Llinked – Chrome extension to export LinkedIn connections
- LinkedIn Exporter – Download connections from LinkedIn
- Mixmax – LinkedIn connection exporter integrated with Gmail
These tools work by using the person’s LinkedIn login credentials to access their account and export their connections list for you. The benefit here is you don’t need to rely on the person to share the file manually. However, they would still need to provide you access to their LinkedIn account.
Is It Ethical to Export Someone Else’s LinkedIn Connections?
While it may be technically possible to export someone else’s LinkedIn connections, the ethicality of doing so is questionable. Here are some important points to consider:
A person’s LinkedIn connections contain identifiable information about those connections. Exporting and using it without the individual’s consent could be an invasion of their privacy.
Violation of LinkedIn’s Terms of Service
LinkedIn’s User Agreement explicitly prohibits accessing or using their platform through unauthorized third-party applications. The use of external tools to export someone’s connections would likely violate LinkedIn’s terms.
Lack of Consent from Connections
The other people in someone’s LinkedIn network have not consented to have their data exported and used by a third-party. Doing so without permission would be unethical.
Damaging Relationships or Reputation
Using someone else’s connections without appropriate consent could strain relationships and damage reputations. People may see it as exploitation of their network.
Based on these reasons, most ethics and compliance experts would not recommend exporting someone else’s LinkedIn connections without explicit opt-in consent from all parties involved.
What Are the Risks of Exporting Someone Else’s LinkedIn Connections?
Apart from the ethical concerns, there are also significant risks you expose yourself to when exporting someone else’s LinkedIn connections without proper approval:
You could face legal action for misusing private information, breach of contract, or violation of data protection laws.
Ban from LinkedIn
LinkedIn may terminate your account for violating their policies around unauthorized access and misuse of data.
Strain Business Relationships
The unethical use of someone’s connections could severely damage business relationships with them or their network.
Your personal or company reputation could take a big hit if your actions are made public.
Considering these substantial risks, it’s prudent to thoroughly evaluate if the benefits outweigh potential downsides before trying to export someone else’s LinkedIn connections.
Best Practices for Ethical Use of LinkedIn Connections
If you still want to leverage someone’s LinkedIn connections for prospecting, here are some best practices to follow:
- Obtain their explicit consent before accessing their account or data.
- Only use minimal necessary information for outreach, don’t export or store full profiles.
- Ensure your access and use complies with LinkedIn’s terms, laws, and data privacy regulations.
- Be transparent in your outreach that you received their name from someone’s network.
- Give people the ability to opt-out if they are uncomfortable.
- Respect the relationship boundaries of the connections.
What Are the Alternatives to Exporting LinkedIn Connections?
If exporting connections is not viable for you, here are some alternative approaches to leverage LinkedIn for prospecting:
Ask for Personal Introductions
Request the person to make personal introductions to key connections who may be a good fit.
Obtain Target Company Lists
Ask them to share names of target companies or titles you should focus on rather than individual contacts.
Use LinkedIn’s Connection Insights tool to identify the best connections without exporting data.
Search Recent Visitors
People visiting the person’s profile are often their connections. You can target similar personas.
LinkedIn Contact Targeting
Use LinkedIn ads to target the contacts of a company or individual profile.
The key is to get the context you need for effective targeting without compromising ethics or privacy.
Can LinkedIn Connections See if You Exported Their Data?
No, there is currently no way for LinkedIn connections to know if their data was exported without their consent. LinkedIn does not notify users of such unauthorized third-party access.
However, if you engage with the exported connections mentioning you got their details from someone’s network, they may figure out their data was accessed and shared without approval.
Is It Illegal to Export Someone Else’s LinkedIn Connections?
There are no specific laws in the United States or European Union that make it explicitly illegal to export someone else’s LinkedIn connections without consent.
However, it could potentially violate data protection and privacy regulations like GDPR, California’s Privacy Law (CCPA), or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in certain circumstances.
The legality depends a lot on how the data is accessed and used. In general, it is recommended to exercise caution and ensure you have proper approval before attempting to export someone else’s LinkedIn connections.
Exporting someone else’s LinkedIn connections can be done through technical workarounds but carries major ethical, legal, and reputation risks. It is best to avoid accessing a person’s connections without proper consent from them and their network.
If you need to leverage someone’s network, focus on respectful alternatives like introductions or company/title lists rather than full data exports. With the right approach, you can unlock the power of LinkedIn for sales or recruitment in an ethical manner.