Organizations and individuals have several reasons to retrieve LinkedIn profile data. While pulling profile data may seem nefarious, it has several benefits depending on your goals. You might want to scrape profiles for specific industries to collect a list of sales leads. Corporations can use profile data to develop sales campaigns using email and other advertising methods that target specific individuals within an organization.
In some cases, you may simply want to view a LinkedIn public profile, but LinkedIn blocks unauthenticated requests until you create an account. By requiring users to sign up to the platform, LinkedIn increases its visibility, user count, and marketability. It’s great for LinkedIn, but frustrating for someone who wants to see a single professional profile without authenticating into LinkedIn or creating an account. LinkedIn also shows users a list of accounts that recently viewed a specific profile, so you might want to view an account anonymously. Once you authenticate into LinkedIn, you are no longer anonymous.
LinkedIn has an API, but it rate limits activity. For the user who just wants to see public profiles, it’s too much work just to view a few user profiles. In addition to platform limitations, you also battle user preferences. LinkedIn collects both private and public data, but it only displays data to the public based on the profile’s settings. For example, a LinkedIn user can choose to hide their profile from search engines so that you can only find it on the LinkedIn platform, which again requires authentication.
When you want to pull LinkedIn profile data, you should be aware of the data available for public and private profiles. Private data is a list of the professional’s skills, contact information, and user activity for a profile. Public information is very basic with just a profile image and title; little else is divulged to the viewer.
Bypassing LinkedIn profile viewing limitations
You can bypass LinkedIn profile limitations without much effort using a mobile browser. LinkedIn displays profiles based on two factors: the IP address of the device and browser cookies. A browser cookie is sent to the browser after it passes LinkedIn’s bot detection validation. Any bots or bot-like activity is blocked, but a standard browser from your smartphone or mobile device will not trigger LinkedIn’s bot detection.
First, take your smartphone and disconnect it from Wi-Fi so that you’re using the smartphone’s cellular data network. This can be done in the smartphone’s settings whether you’re using an iPhone (iOS) device or an Android. We recommend Firefox Focus as your privacy browser, but you can use your own favorite such as Brave. You can use other browsers such as Chrome or Safari, but you must clear the browser’s cookies before you open LinkedIn.
Next, search for the target profile on Google. You can also search Google using the profile URL as the search query. A search phrase such as “first_name last_name LinkedIn” will suffice. For this example, we’ll use “bill gates linkedin” in Firefox Focus. We can see the link in Google’s search results.
Now, click the link in search to open the LinkedIn profile in the browser. At this point, you should be blocked by LinkedIn’s authorization wall. The authorization wall asks you to create a LinkedIn account to view the profile, but you can bypass it by first toggling airplane mode on and off. Airplane settings are also found in the smartphone’s settings for both iOS and Android. This action retrieves a new IP address for your device.
Refresh and go back to the link in Google again. Click it, and now you can view the user’s profile. You can see from the image below that the “Sign In” button appears, because you're viewing the profile anonymously without being authenticated into LinkedIn.
For each public profile that you want to view, repeat these steps. Make sure to clear cookies each time and toggle airplane mode for each profile. This method to bypass LinkedIn’s authentication wall will benefit anyone who wants to look up just a few simple profiles, but as you might have already guessed, it’s not a scalable method.
Why does this method work?
You might wonder how LinkedIn profiles display in Google search results (or any search engine for that matter) if clicking the link brings you to an authorization wall. LinkedIn, like many other websites, has the burden of finding ways to block users from accessing content anonymously while still allowing search engines to crawl and index pages. Should LinkedIn code its site to show different content to users that it does to search engines, it risks penalties and potential removal from the index.
Instead, LinkedIn and other sites allow search engines to freely crawl pages to keep up visibility and allow users to find pages from search queries, but the platform displays an authentication wall when it detects human users. Detection is done using IP address and cookies. Search engine bots do not accept cookies, which is a factor in differentiating between search engine bots and human users.
When search engines crawl the site, pages are freely available for indexing. However, when LinkedIn detects a human user, the IP is logged along with sending the browser a cookie. By toggling airplane mode on your smartphone, you change the IP address for the device while keeping a cookie unrelated to your IP address. You are then no longer the same user to LinkedIn’s detection algorithms.
Scale with Proxycurl
The above instructions are great for people who want to view a single LinkedIn public profile, but it’s not scalable for corporations that need to pull several hundreds or thousands of profiles, especially if they need a list of enterprise contacts from a company profile. If you need to scale, the engineers at Proxycurl have an API that will pull LinkedIn data for as many profiles as you need and return it in JSON format. The Proxycurl API is an enterprise solution to our simple LinkedIn bypass strategy.
Why should you trust Proxycurl for pulling data at scale? Because we continuously find ways to bypass website blocks so that you can get the data you need for your business projects. We do the research and intelligence so that all you need to do is get your data and leverage it to stay productive and increase your revenue.
We have an API for software engineers to pull personal LinkedIn profiles or company profiles at scale. We offer a trial API key so that you can try it out for yourself. For businesses, we have the strategies that help you build sales campaigns and increase revenue without scaling limitations.