Connecting LinkedIn to Office 365 Profiles and Microsoft Teams Chat
In late 2018, Microsoft enabled the LinkedIn connection to Office 365. The connection is enabled through the User settings section of the Azure AD admin center (Figure 1). The connection can be turned off or configured to be on for all or just for selected accounts.
If like me, you previously used Outlook’s social connector to copy contacts from LinkedIn to the LinkedIn folder in your mailbox, you have an (outdated) local cache of information that’s loaded into Outlook’s name cache and used to validate email addresses. However, that information is not managed by the LinkedIn account connection.
Searching LinkedIn Profiles
Behind the scenes, the LinkedIn account connection uses an enterprise app registered in Azure AD to match profiles of LinkedIn users against email addresses. LinkedIn-enabled apps like Outlook can perform lookups on an on-demand basis when a user right-clicks on a message recipient and selects the LinkedIn icon from the recipient’s address card. If the email address matches, Outlook retrieves and displays information for the LinkedIn profile.
If the user hasn’t a LinkedIn account or isn’t signed into their LinkedIn account, the connection fetches the public information for the target LinkedIn profile. This usually means that the name, job title, some details of their recent employment, and an extract from their full profile is available. LinkedIn users can define what they want to share publicly through the Visibility settings for their account, and the LinkedIn connection is restricted to showing whatever is publicly available for a profile.
A Connect button is available to sign in to LinkedIn. If the user’s Microsoft 365 account is connected to LinkedIn, sign-in is automatic. If it’s not, or the user doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile, they’ll need to sign in manually (or create a new profile). Once signed in, the connection can fetch more information from LinkedIn. As an example, Figure 2 shows the LinkedIn profile of Ståle Hansen, the esteemed author of the chapter on Teams devices in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. To see the full profile, a link is available (not shown) to open LinkedIn.
If LinkedIn can’t find someone using their email address, it performs a search by first and last names to see what it can find. The user can browse the results and select the appropriate LinkedIn profile. Searching like this isn’t perfect and LinkedIn search certainly throws up some interesting results at times, but it’s better than nothing.
Connecting LinkedIn to Teams Chats
Until now, the LinkedIn connection has only been available in the Outlook desktop. OWA, and Outlook mobile clients. Given the popularity of Teams and the way it’s replaced email for internal communications, it’s unsurprising that Teams is now entering the fray. According to MC335277, the Teams integration with LinkedIn rolled out in April (Microsoft 365 roadmap item 89132). Every tenant should now be able to access the LinkedIn connection to Teams.
Teams supports LinkedIn lookups in one-to-one chat conversations with other users from the same tenant, including guest accounts. For example, Ståle has a guest account in my tenant, so when I chat with him, a LinkedIn tab is available for me to check out his latest accomplishments (Figure 3). You can see that the version of the LinkedIn profile presented by Teams differs from Outlook because Teams includes the About information and recent activity. OWA uses the same format as Teams.
The LinkedIn tab isn’t available if I use a federated chat to connect to Ståle’s account in his home tenant. This is the nature of the beast as federated chat is always less functional than a chat with someone in the same organization.
Linking Microsoft and LinkedIn Accounts
Before anyone can see LinkedIn information in Outlook or Teams, their account must be permitted to use the LinkedIn connection in Azure AD. It can take up to a day between adding someone to the LinkedIn account and them being able to see LinkedIn information in Outlook or Teams.
As noted above, if a user doesn’t have a LinkedIn account, the connection can only retrieve public information about LinkedIn profiles. To get full value and access comprehensive information about LinkedIn users, users should have a LinkedIn account and sign in to their account to grant consent for bi-directional data sharing between LinkedIn and Microsoft 365. This is a one-time operation consisting of approving to connect the LinkedIn account with Microsoft 365 apps like Outlook and Teams (Figure 4) followed by approving the connection from Microsoft 365 to LinkedIn. According to LinkedIn, connecting the accounts allows it to present more relevant information to Microsoft 365 users.
Another advantage of connecting a Microsoft 365 account to LinkedIn is that the user can then connect to people through LinkedIn from Microsoft 365. In other words, a connect button appears to allow the user to send an invitation to connect when working inside Outlook or Teams.
The general part of Outlook for Windows settings includes a section called LinkedIn settings with a checkbox to enable LinkedIn lookups for the Office desktop applications. I can’t recall ever setting this checkbox, so I assume it happened because I configured my Microsoft 365 account to connect to LinkedIn.
If you decide that connecting your Microsoft 365 account to LinkedIn is a bad idea, you can reverse the process with some easy steps. See this page for more information about the information shared between LinkedIn and Microsoft.
For now, the LinkedIn connection is available in the Teams desktop client on Windows and Mac (not for Linux) and the Teams browser client. Microsoft hasn’t said when LinkedIn lookups will be available in the Teams mobile client, but considering that Outlook mobile supports this capability, there’s a fair chance that we’ll see Teams mobile get the feature in due course.
Limited Usefulness Compared to Email
Compared to email, Teams is a closed society. Someone must be a member of a tenant or a guest before their details are available through the LinkedIn tab. Almost by definition, this is less useful than being able to look up the LinkedIn profile for anyone who sends you an email. On the upside, you can see how people don’t know much about each other in large organizations and how the LinkedIn integration in Teams chat will help here.
In summary, the LinkedIn integration in Teams is less useful for most organizations than its email counterpart. This might change over time if the integration expands its scope to take in federated chat and the external members of shared channels. In other words, people you don’t already know and can’t look up in your organization’s directory.
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