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LinkedIn giveth and LinkedIn taketh away—and that's why you need to protect your data.

For instance, LinkedIn is finally rolling out its much anticipated new Groups feature, which I personally haven't seen yet, but the comments I've heard are mostly negative. I'll cover this change in detail once I've received the updated version and have had some time to digest and work with it. The negativity revolves around the loss of a couple significant functions related to how group managers communicate with their members.

Personally, this past week LinkedIn eliminated a very important advanced people search filter from my Sales Navigator account (for which I pay around $1,000 per year). I can no longer search by a radius around a specific zip code. When I contacted the Help Center, they said it was eliminated because it wasn't being used by enough people to justify maintaining it—and they'll consider adding it back but can't promise anything.

LinkedIn giveth and LinkedIn taketh away.
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Easy steps to protect your data

Because LinkedIn (and social media sites in general) can change or disappear at any moment, you need to protect your data as much as possible. Then you can use your data to build out other databases and populate new or additional profiles on other sites or online spaces.

For instance, if you publish a newsletter, you can contact people to ask if they'd like to subscribe to it because LinkedIn will give you a list of the emails of every one of your first-degree connections.

It only takes a few minutes to protect yourself if you follow these simple steps.

Request a free archive of your data. The zip file you'll receive from LinkedIn via email will include a complete data dump of many of the things you'll want to have in your possession, including a spreadsheet with all of your first-level connections' names, current companies, titles, and their primary LinkedIn email addresses.

How to get yours: Go to the Me icon in your top toolbar, and select Settings & Privacy in the drop-down menu. Next, select Privacy, scroll down and click Download your data, select The works, and then click the Request archive button. You'll then receive a zip file in less than 24 hours.

Save a pdf of your profile. The pdf file will include words only. It won't include anything that has a visual element to it, like your photo, your company logos, graphics from your published posts or the media you've added.

How to get yours: Go to your profile, click the More... button beneath your headline, and then select Save to PDF.

Print a copy of your profile and your company page using your browser print function. I recommend this step in addition to the previous one because you'll see all the graphic components of your profile that aren't included in the pdf. If you're in charge of your company's page, I suggest you print that as well.

How to do this: Go to your profile (and company page if applicable) and select File from the browser toolbar, and then select Print.

Don't delay. Follow these tips today (and I would recommend repeating this every month or so), because you never know when the next LinkedIn change will come and possibly eliminate your ability to get some of this valuable data.