LinkedIn: the database that doesn’t decay and go bad

very early database

Rule number one for any database: it goes bad over time

…and at its core, LinkedIn is a database.

Today’s newsletter starts in the old paper catalog days, makes a side trip into the email database realm, and ends with LinkedIn, but I can do all this in three minutes, so stick with me.

My first high tech sales job was selling my employer’s low end products – those under a thousand dollars – through catalog companies. This was 1985, and there were maybe three dozen catalogs in North America specializing in the products we made, datacom and telecom test equipment. In each catalog I would typically be allotted a quarter, a third, or half a page for a photo of a product and the accompanying copy.

I learned a lot about the catalog business (these were my customers after all) and one of the basic principles was that their mail lists decayed at the rate of two percent every month. Every month two percent of the people on their mail list would change companies, jobs or addresses so that a catalog sent to them was undeliverable. If a catalog company had a hundred thousand people on their mail list, that’s two thousand people that disappeared every month, and sending two thousand catalogs out that were not going to generate any revenue was something these companies wanted to avoid. This monthly decay in their mail lists was a major cost for them.

So imagine my surprise when I was reading a post on Hubspot’s blog and they said statistics show that 22.5% of email databases go bad every year. Things haven’t changed much in 35 years!

So what does this have to do with LinkedIn? Just this:

LinkedIn is a database that updates itself. It is the exception to the database decay rule.

When someone changes jobs, one of the first things they do is change their LinkedIn profile (if this wasn’t the case you wouldn’t see recruiters paying eight thousand a year for access to LinkedIn’s recruiting tools). If I am connected to a thousand people on LinkedIn, on average around twenty of them are changing jobs, departments or locations every month. But I don’t lose them. They update their profiles, and LinkedIn even notifies me when connections get new jobs or promotions.

This is one of the things I love about LinkedIn as a database. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But it is the most up to date one there is. LinkedIn is the place to search for people and the place to research those people.

But you actually have to do that work yourself. There are utilities and apps and extensions that will crow about how they can access LinkedIn, scrape the relevant data from profiles and they can also look for email addresses and phone numbers, but you risk the wrath of LinkedIn if they catch you using automated tools like that. If you are ever tempted to use automation on LinkedIn, I want to you to keep these three points in mind:

  1. The people that sell those tools aren’t the ones that get in trouble, it’s the people that use them on LinkedIn that do.
  2. The usual punishment for someone caught using these tools is being tossed off LinkedIn for good.
  3. LinkedIn signs up two new members every second. That means it will take LinkedIn half a second to replace you.

Take advantage of the LinkedIn database, but do it wisely.

Today’s newsletter is one of my shorter ones. Next week, one of my longer ones: My adventures discovering hundreds of fake LinkedIn Profiles in the past few weeks.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. For some reason LinkedIn gave me early access to the LinkedIn Newsletter. I have no idea why, but thanks for reading.

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: