Exporting LinkedIn ContactsRecently I noticed someone giving [bad] advice on LinkedIn.  This piece of advice was to export your LinkedIn contacts and use them to target people on other platforms like Facebook.  Yes this is a real thing, you can export your contacts from LinkedIn and then import them into Facebook and target these people if they are using the same email/contact details on their Facebook account.

Just because the functionality is there does not mean you should use it.

LinkedIn Export Functionality & Terms of Service

Within LinkedIn there is a link that enables you to export your contacts to an excel spreadsheet. This is not easily found (Hop into your connections, click see all on left and on top right there is a link Manage synced and imported contacts. On the bottom right there is a link to Export Contacts.)

Here are three reasons I would strongly advise against doing this:

  1. When I connect with someone on LinkedIn, I do just that.  Connect on LinkedIn. I do not give them the right to use my email for other marketing purposes.  Even though I am a digital marketer ethically I have a real problem with using LinkedIn connections for this purpose.
  2. In my opinion you are in breach of data protection legislation and while some might say that is a grey area now when GDPR lands next May you will certainly be in breach and leave yourself open to large fines and possibly a day or two in court.
  3. When you create an account on LinkedIn you agree to their terms and conditions including the one below which states that you must comply with applicable laws (yes that includes data protection)

“You agree that you will: Comply with all applicable laws, including, without limitation, privacy laws, intellectual property laws, anti-spam laws, export control laws, tax laws, and regulatory requirements”

Based on the above my advice would be to steer clear of this practice. Not only it is ethically wrong and in breach of data protection but there could be reputational damage done on top of everything else. You do not want to annoy your connections and have them think bad thoughts about you and your business.

How do you feel about it?   Let me know in the comments below.