Developer Guide on Linkedin API to Get Profile Information

In this post, we explore the potential of LinkedIn's API for B2B marketers and developers. With over 1 billion users worldwide, the API provides access to professional data beyond the platform's interface. It enables tailored marketing campaigns and seamless application integrations by granting access to user profiles, company data, and job postings. Challenges such as API complexity are addressed by solutions like Phyllo, offering streamlined data retrieval and cost savings.

Table of Content

LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with over 1 billion users across 200 countries and regions worldwide. A third of the engagement comes from a community of 67M+ listed companies. That’s a huge potential customer base for B2B marketers. Even 77% of B2B marketers agree that LinkedIn is one of the best non-paid marketing platforms to expect good results. But what if you could harness the power of LinkedIn beyond the traditional interface? That’s where LinkedIn’s Developer Platform and its Application Programming Interface (API) come into the picture. 

The LinkedIn API allows developers to integrate key functionalities of LinkedIn directly into their applications. A successful integration gives access to a treasure of professional data, starting from user profiles and company info to job postings and email addresses. B2B marketers leverage this data to tailor their marketing campaigns to highly relevant audiences sorted by required demographics and professional interests.  

The first "Sign In With LinkedIn" method is free and available to most developers. However, you must obtain permission from each profile you wish to extract into your application. The second "Profile API" method is only available to approved developers with a paid subscription to LinkedIn's Consumer Solution Platform. This allows you to fetch profile data from any profile ID.

Functionalities Offered by LinkedIn API 

The LinkedIn API offers 14 specialized tools through the LinkedIn developer platform, each designed for specific functionalities. You can build requests with tools like REST.li Protocol and client libraries. However, in order to gain access, you need to pass OAuth 2.0 Authentication. 

The functionalities of LinkedIn API goes beyond just profile pictures and names. Here is a glimpse into what it offers: 

Profile Powerhouse:

You can access public profile information of users such as their experience, skills, education, and recommendations. It’s quite time-saving when you need to pre-populate application forms or build targeted profiles based on LinkedIn data. 

Job Market Information:

You can leverage the API to search and retrieve job postings based on specific criteria, or even post jobs directly from your application. You feel an ease of working out with the hiring process. 

Company Connections: 

If you want to gain insights into competitor companies, the API allows you to automatically fetch data such as their size, industry type, and employee profiles, with just a couple of requests. This empowers data-driven decisions for partnerships or competitor analysis. 

Content and Sharing: 

Nearly 70% of Gen Z and 71% of Millennials prefer to see personalized content in their feed. 

With proper authentication, the API also allows you to share relevant articles or updates directly to a user’s LinkedIn network to amplify their professional reach or spark valuable discussions. 

Benefits of Using the LinkedIn API for Profile Information

Let’s explore how businesses and developers can leverage LinkedIn API to make their job easy.  

For Developers

Smooth Development Experience 

The API offers a well-documented and structured approach to access user profile information. Developers use libraries and tools like REST.li Protocol to smoothly integrate the API into the application without any hassle. 

Pre-populate forms 

Developers can easily pre populate registration and application forms with profile data like name, education, and skills with the API. This saves hours of friction and valuable time. 

Personalized recommendation 

Developers can also analyze profile data like skills and experience to suggest highly relevant job postings and learning opportunities to their users. 

Streamlined Networking

Developers can facilitate connection between users with similar interests and backgrounds within their applications. Such valuable interactions will increase user retention and strengthen the community. 

Data Enrichment Opportunities 

The LinkedIn API provides a lot of valuable data about users with a few requests. Developers can use those data as a springboard for further enrichment. For instance, developers can combine these retrieved data with other data sources to develop even more sophisticated features in the application. 

For Businesses

Targeted User Acquisition and Marketing 

Targeted marketing yields best results. B2B marketers can parse, and analyze all collected profiles data to sort target audience by demographics, industry, and job titles. Instead of sending the same message to a bulk audience, businesses can send customized messages to a group of relevant professionals to boost engagement and increase conversion rates. 

Streamlined Lead Generation and Sales

About 78.3% of companies use targeted marketing to reach their potential customers. LinkedIn’s API helps marketers easily identify these high-potential leads using profile data filtered by different skills and experiences. This empowers sales teams to personalize outreach and close deals with more confidence. 

Data Driven Decision Making 

As the API helps you learn industry trends, skills in demand, and other factors from profile analysis, your marketing team can take advantage of this data to make strategic decisions regarding recruitment, talent sourcing, and content creation. 

Leveraging the LinkedIn API to Retrieve Profile Information 

Using LinkedIn Profile API to access user information requires following specific steps to establish a secured and authorized connection. 

Step 1: Create LinkedIn Developer Account 

Head to the LinkedIn Developer Platform and create a developer LinkedIn account. Within your LinkedIn developer portal, create a new application and specify its purpose and functionalities. 

Fill out all necessary information such as name, and description. Upload the app logo and input the redirect LinkedIn profile URL for LinkedIn to send the authentication response. 

Step 2: Note API Keys

After successfully creating the account, take note of your Client ID and Client Secret generated for the application. You will need them for authentication. 

Step 3: OAuth 2.0 Authorization 

OAuth 2.0 is a security protocol that ensures users grant permission before you access their profile for retrieving information. It requires implementing the authorization flow within your application. 

It happens in three simple steps as explained below: 

Redirect user: 

Direct the user to a specific LinkedIn Authorization URL generated using your Client ID and desired profile data permissions. 

User Grants Permission:

The user will notice the requested permissions on the authorization page and can choose to either grant or deny you access.  

Authorization Code Received:

If the user grants your permission, LinkedIn redirects the user back to your application with a unique authorization code.  

Step 4: Token Exchange for Access

Once you receive the authorization code, you can exchange it to receive an access token using your Client ID, Client Secret, and the authorization code itself. Now, using this access token you can easily retrieve user profile information through the profile API. 

Step 4: Construct the API Request

You can use the access token to create an API request to LinkedIn’s servers. Generally, you have to use the GET method with the access token included in the authorization header and the user profile ID in the URL. LinkedIn will use the REST.li protocol to help you specify desired profile data fields in the requests. 

Step 5: Receive and Process the Response 

After a successful API request, LinkedIn will respond with a data structure in a JSON or XML format containing the requested profile information as shown below. 

{

   "firstName":{

      "localized":{

         "en_US":"Bob"

      },

      "preferredLocale":{

         "country":"US",

         "language":"en"

      }

   },

   "localizedFirstName": "Bob",

   "headline":{

      "localized":{

         "en_US":"API Enthusiast at LinkedIn"

      },

      "preferredLocale":{

         "country":"US",

         "language":"en"

      }

   },

   "localizedHeadline": "API Enthusiast at LinkedIn",

   "vanityName": "bsmith",

   "id":"yrZCpj2Z12",

   "lastName":{

      "localized":{

         "en_US":"Smith"

      },

      "preferredLocale":{

         "country":"US",

         "language":"en"

      }

   },

   "localizedLastName": "Smith",

   "profilePicture": {

        "displayImage": "urn:li:digitalmediaAsset:C4D00AAAAbBCDEFGhiJ"

   }

}

Parse this response within your application to extract the required profile information like name, experience, skills, etc. 

Best Practices for Using the LinkedIn API

Let’s take a look at some key principles to ensure a smooth and successful API integration. 

Learn Your Requirements

Clearly define what functionalities and data points you need access from the API. This focus approach will narrow down your development process and save you from exceeding API limitations. 

Read Documents Carefully 

Read the official LinkedIn API documentation to have a clear understanding of different endpoints, authentication methods, and data structures to avoid common pitfalls. 

Secure Your Credentials

Keep your Client ID, Client Secret, and access tokens secured. Do not hardcode them within your application code. Implement secure authentication libraries for added safety. 

Respect User Privacy

Always respect user privacy above your needs. Clearly explain within your application on how you collect, use, and protect user data for general public view. 

Handle Errors Gracefully 

Even if you work within the API limits, the LinkedIn API might return errors due to various other reasons. It is imperative to design your application to handle these errors gracefully. 

Challenges of Working With LinkedIn API 

While the LinkedIn API saves your time with manual data extraction, it presents its own set of challenges. Let’s take a closer look at the challenges developers might face. 

API Complexity 

The API comes with a lot of functionalities and data points. The developer has to go through the official documents, juggle through different endpoints, and master different authentication methods to extract information with ease. 

Authorization Challenges

In order to access LinkedIn data, the developer has to successfully go through OAuth2.0 authorization flows. This can be a bit challenging for newbies as it involves handling user consent and access tokens very smartly. 

API Limitations and Rate Limits

The LinkedIn API comes with certain restrictions when it comes to LinkedIn profile data access. There are also rules on how many API requests you can make within a specified time frame (also known as rate limits). Exceeding these limits will restrict your data access by the platform. 

Privacy Concerns

While using LinkedIn API, you also need to strictly adhere to its terms of service and data privacy guidelines. The platform outlines strict instructions on how to handle user data responsibly and with appropriate user consent. This could feel overwhelming when you’re just starting to work with the API. 

Maintenance and Updates 

Keeping pace with periodic security updates and to work around them to retain the API functional is another challenge. It requires ongoing maintenance efforts from developers. 

These challenges highlight the need for careful planning and expertise when working with the LinkedIn API. However, you can bypass all these challenges with universal API solutions like Phyllo. 

How Does Phyllo Universal API Simplify Everything?

Phyllo provides a simplified and intuitive universal API that helps you bypass the challenges involved in working with the LinkedIn API. Phyllo offers two supported APIs for LinkedIn. 

Identity API 

If you want to fetch basic user data from LinkedIn API such as identity, skills or followers details, Phyllo’s Identity API would be a great alternative. The Identity API gives you instant access to user’s LinkedIn profile information and verifies their account ownership to help you make informed decisions. If you are fetching LinkedIn creators or influencers, Phyllo’s Identity API can provide you deep analysis to understand their followers, subscribers, and views. 

Engagement API

Phyllo’s Engagement API gives you instant access to engagement metrics such as likes, views, reach and impressions. You can easily analyze which user content is driving more engagement and track the performance of your paid influencers in the similar manner. The Engagement API goes beyond just monitoring engagement. It also allows creators to collage content from different platforms and convert them into shoppable content. 

Why Phyllo?

  • Instant access to user profile information sourced directly from LinkedIn API
  • Leverage a wide variety of data points compared to TPAs
  • Enjoy frequent updates to engagement data (<24 hours)
  • Get instant notifications through Webhooks when a creator’s data is updated
  • In-built Connect SDK to allow creators to easily link or unlink their profiles from Phyllo access 
  • Significant cost savings, up to 80% on integration 

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Vishnu Verma

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