If any of these scenarios apply to you, then let’s first see about getting your account unrestricted and then I’ll explain what the problem is.
Click on the Help Center link and type “restricted account” into the search field. The first result is “Account Restricted” details should in most circumstances allow you to release the restriction, the IDK’s are cleared and you start with a clean slate again. It’s always a challenge finding the right balance between continuously growing your network to achieve greater visibility and not going too far and start collecting IDK’s!
So now let’s look at what a restricted account is. A restricted account is where you are able to login normally and use all the functions of LinkedIn but you are not able to invite another user to connect unless you have their e-mail address. A restricted account is not the only reason why an e-mail address may be required, there are actually four occasions where you may be asked for an e-mail address when inviting someone to connect:
- You have selected ‘Friend’ as your reason for inviting
- You have selected ‘other’ as your reason for inviting
- You have previously invited them and they have either selected ‘ignore’ or just not responded at all.
- Your account has been restricted
Accounts become restricted if on five separate occasions (over any time period) if the recipient of an invitation to connect clicks ‘IGNORE’ to your invitation and then decides to further specify that their reason for not accepting was that they do not know you (IDK) or report it as SPAM.
It really appears that on any given day how people react to invitation requests can vary. What gets accepted on one day can turn into an IDK or SPAM response the next. This could be due to several things ranging from having a bad day, not like your photo, an inexperienced user and is unsure of what to do or you may just be the victim of other people’s poor invitation practices and it just so happens to be you who gets punished!
So why would LinkedIn have created this restriction in the first place. The LinkedIn user agreement has always clearly stated that you should not connect to someone that you do not know. However, the reality is that users will decide themselves on who they wish to connect with and this will be based on a variety of factors depending on what they are using LinkedIn for.
Your visibility on LinkedIn is determined by the size and relevance of your network and it therefore cannot be denied that users who connect extensively (often with those they don’t know) will always gain the greatest advantage from a wider level of visibility. This is why researchers, data analysts HR professionals and recruiters will often build massive networks because by doing so they get the best access to other users and with it more information and data. The “I don’t know” (IDK) feature is simply designed to prevent people from building large networks.
It’s impossible to completely avoid any connect request problems while building your network but here are some best practices that may help minimize the likelihood of an IDK or SPAM response.
- Focus on inviting people who are 2nd tier connections.
- If you do not know the targeted individual aim to engage with them before inviting them to connect, this could be an email exchange, a LinkedIn message exchange (free group message or InMail) a LinkedIn group discussion, an introductory phone call or even a meeting. The key is to introduce yourself first and receive a reply before inviting them to connect, the connection request should follow the initial engagement in a timely manner avoid problems.
- Always personalize the invitation, never send the default message “I would like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” even to someone you know well. Be careful of saying too much, just a short simple message relating to your initial contact tends to work best.
- Remember to connect with everyone you interact with in the course of your business activities i.e. a training classes, networking events, conferences etc. Collect business cards from everyone you interact with as they typically have the individuals email address. In our normal business lives, most of us will speak or make contact with several unique people weekly and if we remembered to connect with them all we would have no problems in building a strong and effective network providing an excellent level of visibility.
- Don’t use a connection request to try and sell something or promote your talents (if you are job searching), product or service (if you are in sales)!
Utilizing these best practices for your connection requests you should be able to avoid most problems but there is no guarantee that you won’t find your account restricted and you may still have pending invites out there that could still be rejected in this way. When you are getting close to your IDK limit, LinkedIn will send you a warning stating that you have nearly reached your limit, at this point you do need to be careful but there should be no need to stop continuing to grow your network.
Unfortunately, upgrading your account does not really help with this problem, having access to InMail might make it easier to engage with someone first but upgraded users are still in as much danger of an account restriction as the free accounts, no matter what level of upgrade you purchase.
I hope that this either gets you out of jail or keeps you out!
Follow Graham @GrahamKRiley
CareerToolbox International, LLC