Despite using LinkedIn religiously for over a decade now, I’ll admit, even an avid user like myself can have a hard time keeping up with all of the site’s changes — or can overlook a useful feature of the site every now and then!

Along these lines, I was grateful to an acquaintance of mine who recently “clued me in” to a feature of LinkedIn I had never used before, which is the “Request an Archive of Your Data” option that you can find buried in the Privacy & Settings, Account menu of the system.  Ever seen this item?  Essentially, what it allows you do is request that LinkedIn send you a massive dump of all the data they’ve stored up regarding your account — including the names of all your connections, the recommendations you’ve sent and received, the search queries you’ve run, any group postings you’ve made, etc.

Once you request a copy of your archive, LinkedIn will e-mail you a zipped-up folder (within 72 hours) containing 22 separate files of data regarding your usage of the site, all stored in “Comma-Separated Value” (.csv) format — which is a piece of cake to open up in Microsoft Excel or another database or spreadsheet program, if you have one.

As for the actual usefulness of this data?  Hmmm.  On that front, I’ll admit I’m not really sure, but if nothing else you might find some of this information interesting to review — or at the very least, like me, might be happy to simply have a copy of some of this data (like the names and e-mails of all your connections) in case you want to import it into another contact management program or send out a “blast” networking mailing or some such thing.

Again, while perhaps not as critical of a feature as many others on the system, it’s just good to know that all of your LinkedIn data isn’t permanently locked away and out of your grasp if you need to access it for any reason.  So for those of you like myself who haven’t noticed that feature previously, you might check it out.  It’s free, it only takes a moment, and even if you never need to use this data for any reason, it may not hurt to keep it on hand, just in case…