Quora: Does LinkedIn Sell Your Info?

The following is a Quora post answering the question, “Does LinkedIn Sell Your Info?”


This is likely to fall into a semantics question. If data is employed in the aggregate and your personally identifiable information is not disclosed, then I would argue that your information is not sold. Likewise, if you are presented an ad because your LinkedIn profile conforms with a target audience definition, your data is also not being sold.

I can’t answer for LinkedIn Recruiter, but can answer in the Sales and Marketing context.

LinkedIn offers a sales product called Sales Navigator. Users can view company and contact information on Navigator just as they can on the free service. It even supports viewing this data within third-party SNAP products. However, Navigator and SNAP are view only. Sales reps cannot download your profile or sync it with any of their partner platforms. They also restrict display of your email and phone information to your direct connects as well as other content you flag as restricted.

LinkedIn Marketing sells advertising on LinkedIn and Bing based upon your profile attributes. Advertisers define their target audience across a broad set of firmographic, career, and location variables, but these segments are not provided directly to the marketer. Instead, they are used for advertising display. Thus, your data isn’t sold, just your eyeballs.

LinkedIn treats its member’s data with respect. Microsoft, its parent company, has called for a US version of GDPR, the European data privacy standard. CEO Satya Nadella stated that “privacy is a fundamental human right” on an April 2018 earnings call and said that the firm has implemented an “end-to-end privacy architecture” which is GDPR compliant.

The LinkedIn SNAP AppExchange connector displays LinkedIn content and functionality within Salesforce, but does not sync any company or contact data with SFDC.
The LinkedIn SNAP AppExchange connector displays LinkedIn content and functionality within Salesforce, but does not sync any company or contact data with SFDC.

InsideView Adds Direct Dials

InsideView users will be able to validate Direct Dial Phones for contacts.
InsideView users will be able to validate Direct Dial Phones for contacts.

InsideView is adding Direct Dials to its Sales product.  The lack of direct dials is a long-standing gap in its service as competitors have provided these numbers for several years.  InsideView for CRM supports uploading and syncing of direct dials.

The new field is currently in beta.  InsideView expects to have around two million direct dials in its service by the end of this quarter and is targeting ten million by the end of the year. The majority of the direct dials will be for US execs and mid-level managers.

InsideView currently provides 32 million global contacts with 15 million emails. The contacts span 14 million companies.

InsideView also announced Salesforce encryption support for adding and updating Account, Contact, and Lead records.  The firm provided the following caveat, “If you are using deterministic encryption, InsideView will attempt to find existing duplicates as part of the ‘Update CRM” data sync/export. If you are using probabilistic encryption, InsideView won’t be able to query Salesforce for potential duplicates in Salesforce, but your users can still use the “Update CRM” feature.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q1 Release (Part II: SNAP)

The Drift SNAP partnership provides LinkedIn intelligence to sales reps as they chat with prospects on the Drift platform.
The Drift SNAP partnership provides LinkedIn intelligence to sales reps as they chat with prospects on the Drift platform.

As part of their Q1 2019 release, LinkedIn rolled out a set of new SNAP (Sales Navigator Application Platform) partners including Altify, Drift, G2 Crowd, and Mixmax.  

The Drift partnership allows sales reps to “continue website conversations” after a prospect drops off of a Drift chat: “sometimes people leave your conversation abruptly – it happens. But as an SDR, that’s a potential meeting walking out the door. So what do you do? Well now you can send a connection request or follow up message with InMail right from within Drift.”

The Drift integration also displays contact and company intelligence including shared connections while a sales rep is chatting with a prospect visiting her website (see image on right).

“Gone are the days of toggling back and forth between LinkedIn and your ongoing sales conversation,” said Drift Product Marketer Daniel Murphy.  “Say goodbye to awkward lags in conversations. Prospects will never again have to wait for a response while SDRs search LinkedIn Sales Navigator or Salesforce to determine if they’re a good fit.  Now they can research a prospect’s company, see mutual connections, and grab other insights and conversation starters – all in real-time.”

G2 Crowd gathers intent data from 24 million technology searchers.  Intent data is collected from G2 profile and category views along with competitor comparisons.  Sales reps are notified when followed accounts are researching on G2 based on contact connections, sales preferences, search histories, and profile interactions.

“People don’t buy today as a result of cold calls and emails. The power is in the hands of the buyers doing more research than ever before. As sales teams, we need to focus on accepting the modern buyer journey and connecting to the right buyers at the right time. We’ve always been aligned with LinkedIn on this vision, and this integration helps us make it a reality.”


G2 Chief Revenue Officer Matt Gorniak

The Mixmax SNAP integration supports InMail and Connection requests and profile views from Gmail.

Altify’s org-chart software now displays insights and helps users identify key buyers across an organization.

Sales Navigator insights and functionality are displayed alongside Altify’s Relationship Maps.
Sales Navigator insights and functionality are displayed alongside Altify’s Relationship Maps.

LinkedIn also noted that it will be available within the Salesforce Winter 2019 release.  Salesforce admins can install the application from the Lightning Setup Console instead of the AppExchange.

One problem that has long dogged sales intelligence vendors is ongoing training and product exploration.  To encourage exploration, Sales Navigator added a coaching feature to extend product knowledge.  Sales Navigator Coach is a new dashboard that “suggests actions for customers to take and links to short learning videos.”  Actions are associated with core workflows.  The videos run thirty to forty seconds.

The new Sales Navigator Coach provides short videos and tips on key features.
The new Sales Navigator Coach provides short videos and tips on key features.

Finally, GDPR opt-outs are being added to PointDrive presentations.  PointDrive recipients will be able to revoke viewer tracking permission, effectively anonymizing their viewing data from sales reps.


Part 1 (Shared Custom Lists) posted yesterday.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Q1 Release

LinkedIn Sales Navigator added Custom Account and Lead lists.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator rolled out Custom Account and Lead Lists in Q4 and added List Sharing in Q1 2019.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator began rolling out its Q1 release two weeks ago.  New features include custom list sharing, Sales Navigator Coach, list building exclusion filters, new Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP) integrations, and an expanded set of technologies selects.

LinkedIn Sales Solutions VP of Product Management Doug Camplejohn was most excited about custom list sharing, noting that that “selling is a team sport.”

Team members can share lists with other users on their contracts, share comments, and sort by “Last Updated” date so sales reps can stay apprised of updated leads and accounts.  Sales Navigator notifies users when lists are being shared with them.  However, lists reside only in LinkedIn and are not downloadable.

“Now we’re taking lists up a notch by adding the ability for you to share these custom lists between your team members and have comments shared as well. Sales Development Reps can collaborate with Account Executives on their team and share progress on breaking into new accounts. Relationship Managers and Customer Success Representatives can collaborate around the health of their named accounts throughout the customer lifecycle. And Marketing can easily share lists from events with the teams following up on new leads. The possibilities are endless.”


Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management, LinkedIn Sales Solutions

LinkedIn has long described Sales Navigator as a system of engagement that worked with systems of record (CRM) and communication (email, social).  Much of the initial focus was on lead messaging and SNAP connectors, but the firm is now placing a greater focus on teamwork.  Shared lead lists are “the first step in a broader strategy to enable collaboration across your selling teams,” wrote the firm.

Lead lists were released in Q4 and quickly employed by users.  250,000 custom lists were created within the first six weeks of availability.  A quarter of active users created custom lists post-launch.

Users can also save Leads and Accounts to custom Lists from partner applications via their broad set of SNAP partners.

LinkedIn stated that “sharing increases visibility of and fosters collaboration for your pipeline.”  Custom lists help teams organize and plan for key leads and accounts within lists: “Sharing allows them to collaborate with others as they research, contact, and advance relationships with those Leads and Accounts.”

Users can track team outreach to prospects, share leads with managers to discuss strategy, segment by source, and customize follow-on activities.

Other screening enhancements include the expansion of technology selects to 30,000 technologies and the addition of seven categories of exclusion criteria for leads: company, geography, seniority level, title, function, industry and school.  Account exclusions are provided for geography and industry.  Camplejohn noted that exclusion filters were one of the top user requests.


Part II covers SNAP partners, SFDC Lightning Setup Console integration, and the new Sales Navigator Coach

LinkedIn Q4 Sales Navigator

Sales Navigator now supports custom Account and Lead lists.
Sales Navigator now supports custom Account and Lead lists.

LinkedIn rolled out its Q4 Sales Navigator release in November, but I failed to blog about it.  (Q1 will be covered next week in this blog.) The release contains several nascent initiatives including custom lists and the collection of “Reports To” data to assist with organizational mapping.  Other feature sets include three new alerts, an improved accounts center, PointDrive activity logging, and additional SNAP connectors.

LinkedIn is beginning to collect data around who reports to whom.  As sales reps or others learn about reporting relationships, they can add them to executive profiles.  The data is then shared across the LinkedIn contract with co-workers but not more broadly.  Following after last quarter’s support of buying committees, it is evident that LinkedIn is looking to infuse additional project and reporting relationships within Sales Navigator.

“We’re laying the foundation for full-blown org charts by adding a new “Reports To” field on the Lead Page,” blogged Head of Products for LinkedIn Sales Solutions Doug Camplejohn.  “Once you learn who someone’s manager is, you can add that info to their page by searching for a name or browsing our recommendations.  Any additions you or your colleagues make will only appear to those in your company’s Sales Navigator contract. So, the next time you or a team member looks that lead up, you’ll see who they report to, who added that connection, and a reporting history.”

An unlimited number of custom lists of accounts or leads may be built within the LinkedIn desktop or mobile app. Users may post notes on saved leads or accounts and filter the lists by people who have changed jobs in the last 90 days, people who have posted on LinkedIn in the past 30 days, companies who have had senior leadership changes in the past 3 months, etc.

LinkedIn does not yet support custom list uploading. Custom Sharing is part of the Q1 release.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator added three new alerts
LinkedIn Sales Navigator added three new alerts

LinkedIn added three new alerts:

  1. Someone at a saved account viewed your profile
  2. A saved account has just raised funding
  3. A saved lead has engaged with LinkedIn posts from your company

which accompany six current alerts:

  1. A saved lead started a position at a new company
  2. A saved lead has a new position within the same company
  3. A saved lead viewed your profile
  4. A potential lead recently joined a saved account
  5. A saved lead has accepted your connection request
  6. A saved lead was mentioned in the news

Alerts are now included in the main menu bar of both the desktop and mobile editions.  Camplejohn noted that LinkedIn has improved the “signal-to-noise ratio” of its alerts.

“Think of our Alerts as a trusted sales advisor tapping you on the shoulder with information about your saved leads and accounts when it’s most important and relevant to you,” said Camplejohn.

LinkedIn has simplified its admin experience and “made it much easier to do tasks from assigning users to managing groups.”  LinkedIn also unified its administration module across Sales Navigator, LinkedIn Learning, and LinkedIn Recruiter.

Advanced Searching was added to the Sales Navigator mobile app, bringing it to list building parity with the desktop application.  Earlier this year, LinkedIn enhanced its company and lead profiles, also bringing them to parity with the desktop application.

“LinkedIn’s recent updates to its Sales Navigator management tool makes it a more robust platform for sales teams.  More importantly, the moves to bring more of its desktop features to the mobile app are evidence that LinkedIn finally understands how crucial a mobile experience is when designing a sales tool focused on lead management.”


Amy Gesenhues, MarTech Today

PointDrive, Sales Navigator’s multi-media sharing application, will begin writing activity history back to Microsoft Dynamics.  Salesforce PointDrive sync will come in 2019.  PointDrive presents documents and video to end users as a landing page and tracks views and shares.

“Now when you send that pricing proposal to a prospect in PointDrive and members of the buying committee engage with it, you’ll be able to see that activity in both Sales Navigator and your CRM,” blogged Camplejohn.

LinkedIn continues to expand its SNAP partnerships, adding Zoom as their first web conferencing partner.  Users can now hover over an attendee name and view Sales Navigator intelligence including their profile photo, title, and common connections.  

The Zoom LinkedIn SNAP integration provides meeting attendee insights and connections from within Zoom.
The Zoom LinkedIn SNAP integration provides meeting attendee insights and connections from within Zoom.

Four vendors launched v2 SNAP integrations which provide broader access to Sales Navigator actions:

  1. Yesware (Email Engagement)
  2. Leadfeeder (Visitor ID Analytics)
  3. Groove (Sales Engagement)
  4. Outreach (Sales Engagement)

SalesLoft, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics previously released V2 SNAP integrations.

In the Salesforce Winter Lightning release, admins will be able to configure Sales Navigator and add support for Person accounts without having to go to the AppExchange.

This year, Sales Navigator focused on improved functionality and display for accounts, leads, and list building in their mobile and desktop applications; SNAP integrations; GDPR compliance and security; CRM opportunity management and buyers circles; alerting; employment analytics; and PointDrive CRM integration.  Details on earlier releases are available in my blog: Q1, Q2, Q3.

Owler Pro

Owler promises 60 second access to the platform with one-click Salesforce permissioning.
Owler promises 60 second access to the platform with one-click Salesforce permissioning.

Sales and competitive intelligence vendor Owler is readying to launch Owler Pro, its first end-user premium service.  Pro reads the open Leads, Accounts, and Opportunities in Salesforce and begins delivering automated alerts to sales reps.  Owler Pro supports single-click sign-on so no Salesforce admin support is required.  The service is currently in beta test and includes a redesign of their Instant Insights email alert design.

“In short, it’s an ad-free, streamlined way for Saleforce.com users to automatically sync their active opportunities with Owler, and auto-follow those companies on Owler. So, a sales person’s Daily Snapshot will always be relevant to the deals they are currently working on.”


Owler CEO Tim Harsch

The service is designed for sales reps, but Owler plans to support competitive intelligence analysts, marketing professionals, and senior level executives in the future.

Owler Pro, which is expected to launch in mid to late February, is priced at $12.99 per month or $119.88 annually.  During the beta, users receive one free month, but they are undecided on whether that offer will continue following general user rollout.

The premium service also alerts on a broader set of topics.  While the free version focuses on M&A activity, funding events, and exec changes, the Pro edition adds an additional dozen triggers:

  • Product Launches
  • Joint Ventures
  • Partnerships
  • Awards
  • New Offices
  • IPO Announcements (a precursor to the closing of the actual funding)
  • Record Earnings
  • Earnings Announcements
  • Restructuring
  • Key Employee Departures
  • Key Employee Hires (in addition to primary leadership which are included in the free version)
  • Layoffs

According Harsch, the goal is to “arm sales reps with sales triggers.”

Owler also recently rolled out a Lightning Data solution which performs a monthly match and append against Salesforce Accounts.  36 fields are supported including the top three competitors and social media links.  The service is priced at $25 per user per month for all users in the instance.

The Lightning Data solution includes a free self-assessment report which analyzes Owler’s match and append rate against Salesforce Accounts and includes segmentation data.

Owler has 2 ½ million active users, up from 1.1 million a year ago.  Nearly half of users are located in the Sales or Marketing department and forty percent are directors or above.  An additional 17% describe themselves as Analysts, Consultants, or Specialists.

Owler user base demographics
Owler user base demographics

Owler is also available through its API partners including CrunchBase, SalesLoft, SugarCRM, and Salesforce Lightning Data.

Owler collects data on over 11 million companies including four million full profiles.

LinkedIn Email Downloading

LinkedIn users can block connections from downloading their emails.
LinkedIn users can block connections from downloading their emails.

LinkedIn added the option to restrict downloading of emails by their connections.  LinkedIn does not generally allow profile downloading or CRM synching except for permissioned connections.  Users now have the option to permit connections to view their emails but block them from downloading emails.  By default, emails are not downloadable unless users change their settings to permit downloads.

While the change is pro-privacy and consistent with GDPR, TechCrunch took a negative view of the new setting.

A win for privacy on LinkedIn could be a big loss for businesses, recruiters and anyone else expecting to be able to export the email addresses of their connections.…[The new option] could prevent some spam, and protect users who didn’t realize anyone who they’re connected to could download their email address into a giant spreadsheet. But the launch of this new setting without warning or even a formal announcement could piss off users who’d invested tons of time into the professional networking site in hopes of contacting their connections outside of it…

On a social network like Facebook, barring email exports makes more sense. But on LinkedIn’s professional network, where people are purposefully connecting with those they don’t know, and where exporting has always been allowed, making the change silently seems surreptitious. Perhaps LinkedIn didn’t want to bring attention to the fact it was allowing your email address to be slurped up by anyone you’re connected with, given the current media climate of intense scrutiny regarding privacy in social tech. But trying to hide a change that’s massively impactful to businesses that rely on LinkedIn could erode the trust of its core users.


Josh Constine, TechCrunch

TechCrunch overstates the loss.  Member control their data, not LinkedIn or LinkedIn connections.   Second, there are multiple ways to reach users from within LinkedIn including InMail, messaging, and PointDrive.  Unless the email is blocked on the profile, connections still have access to emails from within LinkedIn.  Finally, most emails in LinkedIn are personal emails, not business emails (an issue they should address by allowing both and setting privacy and messaging rules around multiple emails), so reaching out to individuals on their emails only makes sense for friends, family, and recruiters on LinkedIn, not businesspeople networking with colleagues and clients.

While LinkedIn wasn’t transparent about the privacy change, it enhanced the privacy of its members.  As such, looking for nefarious reasons for the enhancement is a reach.