How to operate ProspectIn or Podawaa via the cloud?

Published by Guillaume Portalier on

If you arrive on this article via our support or a link placed somewhere on Podawaa or ProspectIn, you are probably looking to run our extensions via the cloud. Otherwise… It’s because Amandine, our SEO manager, is doing a good job. 😁

Before I start, let me apologize for french screenshots, I did not manage to have them in English, but this should not prevent understanding how it works.

Here we will see how to operate ProspectIn or Podawaa (and soon Piwaa) online, safely. In fact, this tutorial allows you to run any extension via the cloud.

Why running ProspectIn (or Podawaa) in the cloud?

ProspectIn and Podawaa are Chrome extensions. All performed actions on LinkedIn with our tools are done from your computer. There are therefore several possible reasons for needing to run them elsewhere than on your PC:

  • You don’t want to keep a LinkedIn tab open on your machine, or you just want to make sure your account is always running somewhere,
  • You manage several accounts and they cannot all run on your PC.

There is obviously a simple solution: buying an additional PC, dedicated to running these accounts. It is not necessarily cheap and always limited to 4-5 simultaneous accounts, depending on the performance of the machine (See “How to run multiple accounts on one computer“).

There are “Cloud” LinkedIn prospecting tools where the tool runs your LinkedIn profile directly via the cloud. These solutions have two major drawbacks:

  • It is necessary to provide your LinkedIn credentials to the tool (risk of data theft),
  • the IP used by the servers in question is often an IP based abroad. LinkedIn doesn’t really like it and tends to ban accounts or use captchas that will also results in seeing your account banned.

This tutorial is a first version, based on a tested case that works.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any problems, we will try to see how to help you (without guarantee of success). 😉

0. Pre-requisite:

  • Having a Google account,
  • Having a VPN or being able to download one.

1. Launch a Google Chrome session in the Cloud

The creation of a Chrome instance is based on this tutorial provided by Google. Do not hesitate to refer to it.

Here we are going to use Google Cloud, the Google service that allows you to use servers quite easily and run Linux or Windows sessions in the cloud.

Why specifically Google Cloud VS other services?

Purely arbitrarily. It was the first service I tried and everything worked as expected. And then Google offers you $300 of free credit, which should make it possible to run 2-3 free LinkedIn accounts in the cloud for 1 year (since they are to be spent within 12 months).

A. Start Google Cloud Free Trial

So go to this link and start a free trial (if you already have an account, you can skip this step).

Google will ask you for a payment method. It is mandatory to complete the tutorial but if you follow this tutorial properly you should not have to pay anytime soon. It will also tell you that automatic billing has been activated.

Let’s start the free trial.

B. Launch your first Virtual Machine

Google Cloud allows you to do lots of things. Many of which are very technical and complex things, at least it’s how it looks. To be honest, I didn’t even know the service before I started this tutorial. 😅

We will focus on VM: Virtual Machine.

A virtual machine will simulate a Windows or Linux session on a server as if you had your own computer in front of you.

Except that when you turn off your computer, the server keeps it running. And that’s what we’re looking for. 😉

  • We will, therefore, go to the VM instance management page.
  • Select a project or create one. It does not matter much because you can have multiple VM instances on the same project. Personally, I selected the default project, it worked.
  • Ouvrez le projet choisit.
  • The site will load for a few seconds/minutes and then offer to “Create” an instance, “Import” or follow the “Quick Start”. Click on “Create”
  • Here we get to the heart of the matter. Give your instance a small name.
  • Then choose what will be the region where the servers that you will use are. It does not matter much because we will then use a VPN to bring the account back to your country. However, if you are concerned about the GDPR, choose a country in Europe.
  • Now, we will have to define the power of our VM. Like a computer, we will assign it a RAM. As you can imagine, the more powerful the server, the more expensive it will be. You can see an overview of the cost at the top right of the page. To date, I have only tested for 2 LinkedIn accounts that run with ProspectIn and Podawaa. I tested the smallest server power and failed to launch a browser. I advise you to consider a minimum of 1 GB of RAM per LinkedIn account or even 2. Personally, I took the proposed N1 base, it works great for 2 accounts.
  • For the Disc type, ie the Operating System, I left the default Debian server (Linux), which does the job very well. I tested a Windows one and the price estimate was 8x higher. It has no advantage in our case so I invite you to choose Linux. In any case, the tutorial is based on it. And anyway, once everything is set up, you won’t have much to do 😉
  • Finally authorize Https and Https traffic then Create the instance.

After a few seconds, your instance is created.

C. Finish the configuration to access the graphical interface

Do not panic! We will have to type a few command lines. But don’t worry, if you follow copy and paste step by step, everything will be fine!

To launch the GUI, I used this Google tutorial.

Now that you are on your VM instances, you will start the SSH connection. A command terminal will start.

— If the instance is in red and not green, there is a bug. In this case, delete it and start the creation of the instance again. —-

You are now on your machine in the cloud. What? Doesn’t it sound like it? 😂

Please do not ask too many questions. We just execute the following copy/paste:

 sudo apt-get install wget   

We are going to create a “wget” package. It will ask you for confirmation. You type “Y” for “Yes”.

When entering “Y”, if the result is “abort” execute the following command:

 sudo apt install wget   

Then copy that:

wget https://dl.google.com/linux/direct/chrome-remote-desktop_current_amd64.deb
sudo apt update
sudo dpkg --install chrome-remote-desktop_current_amd64.deb
sudo apt install --assume-yes --fix-broken

sudo apt install chromium

It’ll take 1 or 2 minutes to settle in. Then copy the following commands again:

sudo DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive apt install --assume-yes xfce4 desktop-base
sudo bash -c 'echo "exec /etc/X11/Xsession /usr/bin/xfce4-session" > /etc/chrome-remote-desktop-session' 
sudo apt install --assume-yes xscreensaver 
sudo systemctl disable lightdm.service

I skip all the technical details and explanations for each command. If you want more information, see the Google documentation on the subject.

We are almost there!

Go to this address. Click the download button and download the Chrome extension to your browser. It will ask you to install the plugin on the computer. Validate.

Then start the configuration of a remote device. You will get a code to copy/paste. Take the Debian version and paste it back into the Command Terminal.

That’s it! By clicking on “Remote Access” again at the top of the page, you should see your instance, accessible in one click! Click and enter your password.

Here you are on a splendid Linux interface! Congratulations!

If a popup appears, choose “Use the default configuration”.

D. Configure the machine (optional)

You will not need to go to this interface often. Once it’s functional, you can manage your campaigns from your extension on your computer, as usual.

3. Start your LinkedIn account on a VPN

It is important to know that LinkedIn does not like too much when there are IP changes in different countries.

Why? Simply because it is often a sign of fake accounts or the use of cloud automation tools. 😉

That’s why we’re going to use a VPN, which works as a Chrome extension for simplicity. It is probably possible to install a VPN other than an extension on the server, but the option I present to you is simpler. (The truth is that I didn’t manage to do it 😅)

Personally, I chose Nord VPN because they offered an extension.

What is important about the VPN you choose is to be able to obtain an IP in your country, to keep a “normal” behavior with regard to LinkedIn.

Once your VPN is purchased, go back to the Remote Desktop:

  • Launch Chromium by clicking on the browser icon at the bottom of the screen
  • Download the VPN extension in question. Log in. Choose an IP in your country.
  • Open LinkedIn and log in. It is possible that despite the local IP, LinkedIn detects that it is a data center and asks you to confirm your identity by entering a code received by email. I cannot guarantee that this method is 100% risk-free for your LinkedIn account. I tested with a new account over a few weeks without problems but I cannot be held responsible if your account is ever restricted.
  • Download the extensions like ProspectIn or Podawaa that you want to run on your account.

That’s it! Your account is now ready to run 24/7.

If you ever encounter problems during the implementation of this tutorial, do not hesitate to contact me on LinkedIn. I can’t guarantee anything but I will try my best.

We are thinking about developing a solution that will allow to run extensions in the cloud with a few clicks. If you would like to beta test this product, contact me too 😉

In the event of a machine bug

Several times, because I chose the smallest version of the server, it crashed. Go to this page, click on the 3 dots and do “Stop”. Then when the machine is stopped, do the same thing for “Start”.