How to Avoid LinkedIn Account Restrictions

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867456_behind_bars It would be nice to think that if you just followed LinkedIn’s User Agreement, you’d never have any problems with account restrictions, but that’s not necessarily the case. Whenever you send an invitation to connect, one of the possible responses is “I don’t know [sender]”, or “IDK”. If you receive five IDK’s — not within a certain period of time, but ever — then your account gets automatically suspended and you get an email from LinkedIn Customer Service asking you to only invite people you know and stick to the user agreement.

Some people get caught in this because they don’t buy in to LinkedIn’s model of connecting only with people you know and they deliberately choose to push the boundaries. But a lot of other people get caught just doing what LinkedIn makes it easy for you to do: upload your contact list and invite them in batch, reconnect with former colleagues and classmates, etc.

See, just because you remember somebody doesn’t mean they remember you. Or they may have a tighter connection policy than you do — for example, do you connect with someone you met at a networking event? And unless they follow third-party sources like this blog or MyLinkedInPowerForum, they may not realize that IDK has negative consequences for the sender.

So even if you’re trying to only Link with people you know, you can still get caught.

Sheilah Etheridge (more about her below), writing on MLPF, shared some great advice for how to avoid LinkedIn account restrictions:

I haven’t been restricted on LinkedIn but have spoke with a few of the LinkedIn staff members about this. There doesn’t seem to be a hard and fast rule about how many restrictions it takes before a person is permanently banned from inviting others. It appears (and this is assumption based on what was said and more importantly the dance around what wasn’t said) but it appears that a great deal depends on how quickly one gets restricted after having a previous restriction lifted, as well as how many restrictions they get.

A great deal also depends on how many invites you send in a short period of time. If you send a few everyday that is less harmful than if you send a 100 in one day and none for the rest of the week. The restrictions do not come from just the IDK’s, they also result from inviting too many people in too short of time. BUT, LinkedIn rarely admits to this.

The easiest way around this is simple. Don’t use the add (name) feature on people’s profiles. Always use add connections and type in the address. Personalize the invitation and tell them some sort of reason why you want to connect or remind them how you know them. Then ask them to archive rather than click IDK.

Most people see a name and then the words colleague, classmate, group member etc and immediately click IDK. They don’t read the invitation. They know they didn’t work with someone by that name, or don’t remember them so they click IDK. But if you use the regular invitation they are far less likely to click IDK.

Try to also remember these are human beings and they prefer to be treated as such. They don’t want to connect to someone they “think” is just adding a number. One of the biggest turn offs I have seen and others have also mentioned is being told how large someone’s network is and what it will do for that person if they connect. Sell yourself not the size of your network.

You can also try emailing these people and ask if they want to connect. Let them send you an invitation or at the very least agree to connect. Then when you do send the invitation say thanks for agreeing to connect. It rings a bell and they remember agreeing to do so.

So who is Sheilah Etheridge anyway? In addition to running SME Management, an outsourced accounting and business management practice, Sheilah seems to have made it her personal mission to be the most helpful person on LinkedIn Answers in the Using LinkedIn category, where she has racked up nearly 600 Best Answers — not just answers… best answers.

Photo: Sanja Gjenero on stock.xchng

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  1. If you are looking to build a bigger and more diverse network on LinkedIn – and want to stay clear of receiving “I Don’t Knows” – be sure to also check out

  2. Hi Scott,

    I have a question regarding groups. Does LinkedIn somehow track how many times I, say, post the same message in several groups? I’m trying to ask if they have some kind of ‘group spamming’ mechanism.

    I’ve read a lot about how it deals with mass invitations, however, I haven’t been able to find anything regarding groups.

    • I haven’t ever encountered that or heard of anyone bumping into that. What’s more likely is that multiple people will flag your message as either “spam” or “inappropriate”, and they will automatically pull the message from public view once it’s been flagged a certain number of times. Get messages flagged in multiple groups and it will probably have consequences for your account, i.e., review and possible suspension.

      In other words, they rely on the wisdom of the crowd. Keep it on-topic and non-promotional, and I don’t think you’re going to have any problem from LinkedIn. If so, it’s because members of the group consider it spam, not because LinkedIn does.

      That said, that’s an experienced guess — proceed at your own risk.

  3. Thanks for your post.
    This just happened to me and I am terribly angry about that.
    Account restricted, abruptly, no notification whatsoever, three tickets raised and no reason for restriction given.
    I have been very active ultimately but well inside the User Policy. How can this happen ?

      • My account was restricted also. I ONLY ACCEPTED invites, I NEVER asked to connect to ANYONE!!! I have emailed LinkedIn three times with NO response from them. I have been very careful about everything and have NOT violated their terms of agreement. So I do not understand why they have not responded to my emails! IMO it is VERY Rude on their part and unprofessional! I used it very infrequently so I just quite sending emails after the third one. The only reason that I joined was because they spammed me with email until I finally joined. It still is hurtful that they can restrict my account and not even have the decency to respond to my emails! And of course all of my friend and fans in there think I am snubbing them…& I can’t even get in!

  4. Why not apply the “IDK” restrictions on the second attempt to connect to users? If people are willing to admit they don’t know you or “IDK” a person, Linkedin could consider allowing the sender to know who declined their invite. This would give the sender a chance to re-communicate their interest to connect via personal email or other communications. This would allow for the recipient to be reminded of who the sender is.

  5. Hi,

    I was restricted a few years ago and they automatically lifted the restriction after a short while. However, I’ve not had an email to say that they are restricting me again but I have been. It’s now been going for a few weeks, how do I get this restriction lifted, if it is possible at all?

  6. I have an Account High Restriction and cannot log into my page – can anybody help me?

    I have contacted support 4 times now with no response for a week……

    • @ MATT > I have the one and SAME problem as you. I have made contact with LinkedIn 5 times now and am still awaiting a response! I have not asked anyone whom i do not know for a connection, i have not sent ANY spam mail – infact, i am a paying customer with a premium account and am SHOCKED with the service i have received.

      Have you heard back as of yet?



  7. Hi if i try to login to my linkedin account it comes as ” Your LinkedIn account has been temporarily restricted ” so kindly please help me to unblock my linkedin account because all my business contacts are in my linkedin account so kindly please reply me to my email id that is [edit] please waiting for your reply…!!!

  8. I’ve been restricted from using LinkedIn twice now – both times for sharing informative articles with no business connection and no advertising.

    Unfortunately people seems to feel inclined to report messages as spam when they see links to webpages… My advise, never include a hyperlink in a comment on an article, or on the comment of another person.

    It shouldn’t be this way really, but their support seems slow for a non-paying member, so I guess their resource is low………………I’ve written to them several times pleading with them to be more understanding that people aren’t always in the right when they hit the spam button………….as a matter of fact, Forbes Magazine have called out my articles as ‘intereting’, ‘informative’ and ‘well thought out’ and I’ve had personal thank you’s… and almost 600 likes.

    Linkedin’s conduct is wrong but I doubt it’ll change – look around the web and there’s reams of people complaining of the same happening to them!

    Just to demonstrate that I’m not soliciting business, here’s one of the links that got me banned:

  9. If you give you out your private or your work email password to linkedin, or anybody else, you should be restricted from the Internet. LinkedIn assumes – correctly – that its users do not know anything about IT security and will give our their private passwords. If you’ve given them your work password, then you are alon in breach in the conditions of your contract of employment. Which isn’t very professional.

    But then it’s linkedin. What do they know about professional?

    We’re software testers and we got our account high restricted for filing a bug report with them.

  10. I read about LinkedIn Snipers, but I met a communist LinkedIn sniper:

    Please explain why you believe that the account restriction is in error.: I did nothing wrong. Last Friday I had a premium account.

    Do you have any additional information to add?: I have sent the following information to all my group members using E-mail, they all know your claims are false:

    Dear Section 21 members,
    There is no talking to this people, to me they don’t respond, with you they don’t cooperate. They say I constantly abuse the LinkedIn platform, I had no idea….. But it looks like another standard mail for a permanent account restriction.

    One of the communist bastard immediately gave me that since he knew tech-support only send back automated messages, they don’t appear to be reading anything I write….

    I just get things about inappropriate or pornographic content and constantly abusing LinkedIn. I have no idea what these people are talking about…. But I think they are not talking these messages are auto generated it appears.

    As you all know my account is an example of decency, good behavior and good Christian morals.

    I never put anything like that on my LinkedIn page as you all know, if they just looked they could see that for themselves.

    Really the guy who did this should be fired.


    Nothing I do seems to work now my account is HIGH RESTRICTED, I cannot log in, I have to click pictures of rivers, trees and streets signs and I get the silent treatment. I have been nothing but polite. These people can’t be reasoned with.

    Everyone that remembers my account knows how good it is!

    Please help me fight, and complain about mobile.unclexnl at gmail dot com
    being suspended. These articles I wrote for you, are yours too!

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