As part of this investigation, I wrote some code to retrieve and process network updates from the LinkedIn database, which can be retrieved in totality or by type. I concentrated on "shares" as these are a good indicator of someone's activity - the other options I'll investigate later.
I chose to write the results to CSV files - but an obvious improvement is to write them to a database - and then imported into OpenOffice.org to produce the following summary graphic:
Which of these approaches stands more chance of reaching out to your existing and potential customers within your network?
The LinkedIn API restricts the volume of information returned and the number of calls which can be made for performance reasons. The next step is to read more data, but more frequently, and accumulate it for further analysis.
I used LinkedIn-J, a Java library for accessing the LinkedIn API, to extract data from my LinkedIn network. I won't cover the specifics of using the API, as these are covered much better elsewhere but the basic steps are as follows:
- Register your application with LinkedIn, and get your API keys
- Log in to LinkedIn and obtain authentication tokens for your application to allow it to access your data
- Write some Java code to call the API, read and process the results
Note you will be unable to retrieve full details for any of your connections who have elected not to share their data with third party applications.