Receiving messages on LinkedIn can feel overwhelming, especially if you get a lot of them. Whether to respond depends on your goals for using LinkedIn and the type of message. Here are some tips on deciding when to reply.
Reasons to respond
Replying to messages can help you expand your network and find new opportunities. Consider responding if the message is from someone who:
- Works in your industry or a company you want to work for
- Attended a college you went to
- Is in a geographic location you may relocate to
- Has similar interests and could become a good connection
Building relationships can lead to career advice, job openings, business partnerships, and more. Even if there’s no obvious benefit now, you never know when a connection could pay off down the road.
Messages that deserve a response
Certain types of outreach merit a reply, including:
- Personalized messages: These indicate the sender took time to look at your profile.
- thoughtful content recommendations: Sharing an interesting article or other resources shows they want to help you.
- Event invitations: Even if you decline, it’s polite to say thanks for thinking of you.
- Follow-up messages: If you’ve connected before, keep the conversation going.
- Introductions: Replying keeps the door open for meeting new people.
When someone makes an effort, you should too. Thoughtful responses can lead to meaningful professional relationships.
Other outreach may not warrant a response. Be wary of:
- Vague messages: “Let’s connect” gives you nothing to go on.
- Spam or soliciting: Sales pitches and suspicious offers should be ignored.
- Irrelevant messages: If it has nothing to do with your work, feel free to skip it.
- Combative messages: Don’t engage with rude or hostile senders.
- Overly familiar messages: Decline any unprofessional communication.
Replying to these wastes your time and lends credibility. It’s fine not to respond when the message provides no value.
Tips for responding
When you do reply, follow best practices:
- Respond promptly, within a few days if possible.
- Personalize your message based on their profile.
- Be friendly but professional.
- Offer to connect or continue the conversation.
- Suggest meeting for coffee or a video chat if it makes sense.
- Avoid one-word answers like “thanks.”
- Watch your tone as messages can be misinterpreted.
Thoughtful, warm responses make a good impression and keep communication open. But don’t feel obligated to accept every request.
When to ignore messages
It’s okay not to respond when:
- You’re too busy with higher priorities.
- The sender is outside your industry and interests.
- The message seems suspicious or promotional.
- You’re concerned about privacy or boundaries.
- You already have enough connections in that space.
- The message asks for sensitive information.
Be selective about who you engage with. It’s your profile – you get to decide who has access.
Alternatives to responding
If you don’t want to reply, consider:
- Politely declining an invitation if you’re not interested.
- Restricting who can message you by adjusting settings.
- Reporting any harassing or inappropriate messages.
- Removing connections who continually message you.
- Simply ignoring messages from senders you don’t know.
You’re not obligated to respond to everyone. Use LinkedIn controls to filter out unwelcome communication.
Handling frequent messages
If you’re inundated with messages:
- Add an “I don’t respond to unsolicited messages” note on your profile.
- Reply with a polite auto-response declining offers.
- Designate certain times to batch respond to messages.
- Turn off message notifications and check periodically instead.
- Mute threads once the conversation runs its course.
Set boundaries around your availability. Your time and attention are precious – it’s fine to limit messages.
Deciding whether to respond to LinkedIn messages depends on the sender, message content, and your goals. In general, personalized outreach from relevant connections merits a reply. But don’t feel bad ignoring irrelevant or suspicious messages – or limiting messages altogether. Use your best judgment on when responding provides value.