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5 Risks of Using LinkedIn People Search for Data Prospecting

The LinkedIn people search is a critical feature for many salespeople, marketing teams, and startup entrepreneurs looking to grow revenue.

To prospect for new customers, you first need access to information about the companies you want to target and the prospects you want to reach.

LinkedIn has more than 700 million members on its platform, which is a larger dataset than many of today’s top data providers and lead databases.

With such a massive database, LinkedIn has become a popular data source for targeting, list-building, and gaining sales intelligence.

However, every data source comes with its own disadvantages and risks. Here are five different risks you should consider when using LinkedIn’s people search for data prospecting.

1) Questionable LinkedIn People Search Accuracy

LinkedIn provides a variety of ways to hone in on the right target segments using their advanced search features. Here are just a few of the many filters available on their platform:

  • Location / Geography
  • Industries
  • Employee Title
  • Seniority Level
  • Company Headcount
  • Boolean Keyword Searches
A Screenshot of Some of LinkedIn's Top People Search Filters

While LinkedIn offers the ability to explore large quantities of data, it often struggles to provide accurate or consistent search results.

For example, LinkedIn’s people search using specific titles will often contain results that do not match any of the title keywords provided.

Even when searching for a specific list of companies, LinkedIn targeting will sometimes include companies in the results that were not in the original search.

These inaccuracies mean that you often need to manually review the LinkedIn dataset you acquire to remove any potentially irrelevant results.

2) Poor & Inconsistent Data Quality

Quality is a challenge for any database, but LinkedIn datasets struggle with a unique situation that impacts the accuracy and age of its information.

LinkedIn users submit most of the information available about themselves on the platform This also includes the information found on a company or showcase page.

To make it worse, these users also have the responsibility to keep their info up-to-date when things change or data becomes obsolete. Unfortunately, a large proportion of LinkedIn users do not regularly update their profiles.

A Zoomed In Picture of Two Pencil Erasers on Notebook Paper

With no ability for LinkedIn to control data quality, sales and marketing teams face several issues that make it difficult to use the platform for data prospecting.

For example, LinkedIn people searches contain many fake profiles that are hidden within the results. While some fake profiles can be easily spotted, LinkedIn datasets usually require a manual review process to identify whether or not a person is a legitimate user.

3) LinkedIn People Search is Limited by Network

In 2008, Microsoft studied 30 billion digital conversations across 180+ million people and proved the viability of the Six Degrees of Separation concept.

The idea behind Six Degrees of Separation is that everyone on Earth can be connected by about 6 degrees of separation between people in their network.

It’s a small world.

LinkedIn uses this concept in their platform, providing limited access to the full network based on the degrees of separation between different users.

You can interact with users that are up to 3 degrees of separation from your network. Beyond the 3rd degree, LinkedIn reduces visibility and prevents interactions with certain people.

A Screenshot of Using 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degree Connections for a LinkedIn Search

In fact, some profiles in a LinkedIn people search will show up with the placeholder name “LinkedIn Member” because that specific person is too far outside of your network.

If you’re using LinkedIn for sales prospecting, your search results will be limited based on the strength of your LinkedIn profile’s network.

For sales and marketing teams entering into new industries, these limitations can make it difficult to maximize access to their total addressable market.

4) Risks of Using LinkedIn Automation Tools

As a LinkedIn user, you have to abide by the platform’s terms and conditions in order to continue using the platform.

No profile is guaranteed permanent access to their social media network.

What does this mean for sales and marketing teams using LinkedIn scraping, prospecting automation, or LinkedIn marketing tools?

LinkedIn has spent years battling the use of automation software on their platform by throttling, limiting, or even shutting down LinkedIn accounts found using them.

Colored Gears Flying Through the Air

If you’re prospecting for lead lists with LinkedIn’s people search capabilities, you should be careful what software tools you use and how heavily you automate activities on the platform.

While you can still use certain automation tools, it’s important to be cautious and regularly monitor progress to ensure your account stays in LinkedIn’s good graces.

LinkedIn Chrome extensions have emerged recently as a way to automate activities in a safer way, using an active session to complete actions through your computer browser.

5) Limited LinkedIn People Searches & Profile Views

Even without automation tools, LinkedIn still limits the volume and frequency of your activity on their platform.

You can only make so many LinkedIn people searches and visit so many profiles in a given day.

At a certain point, you get blocked from additional searches or profile views on LinkedIn.

For first-time or irregular offenders, LinkedIn provides a warning and limits your activity for a short duration.

A Screenshot of a LinkedIn Warning for Too Many People Profile Views

Beyond a certain threshold, LinkedIn begins to block account activity for longer periods of time.

Whether you’re using LinkedIn automation tools or simply browsing through the platform manually, your access to contacts and companies on LinkedIn is limited.


The size of LinkedIn’s database has made the platform a popular place for targeting companies, finding leads, and prospecting for lists.

Thousands of salespeople, marketing teams, and entrepreneurs use the LinkedIn people search feature as a primary way to fuel revenue growth.

Unfortunately, LinkedIn does not provide unlimited access to perfect datasets.

Keep these five risks in mind the next time you decide to use LinkedIn and you’ll be able to prospect smarter on the platform.

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