There are a few main reasons why you may see a ‘message locked’ notice when trying to message someone on LinkedIn. The most common reasons are that the recipient has turned off messaging from people they don’t know, they have hit their limit on messages they can receive, or you need to upgrade to a premium account to message some members.
Recipient has turned off messaging
The most likely reason you see the ‘message locked’ notice is that the person you are trying to message has configured their settings to only accept messages from people in their network. On LinkedIn, you can control who can send you messages under the ‘Preferences’ section of your account settings. The options are:
- Allow messages from anyone on LinkedIn.
- Only allow messages from people in your network.
- Only allow messages from people who know your email address or appear in your imported address book.
If the person you want to message has selected either of the last two options, you will see the ‘message locked’ notice if you try to message them and are not in their network or address book. This is the most common reason you can’t message someone and simply means they have increased their privacy settings.
Recipient has hit maximum number of messages
LinkedIn also limits the number of messages members can receive based on their account type. Free accounts have the lowest limits, while premium accounts can receive more messages.
If the person you are trying to message has exceeded the allotted number of messages they can obtain with their account level, you will see the ‘message locked’ notice. This is LinkedIn’s way of limiting message volume and incentivizing users to upgrade to premium accounts.
The message limits based on account type are:
- Basic (free) account – 15 messages per month
- Premium Business – 25 messages per month
- Sales Navigator Pro – 50 messages per month
- Recruiter accounts – 150 or 300 messages per month depending on level
So if the person you are messaging has a Basic account and has already received 15 messages that month, any additional messages will be locked until the next month when their allotment resets.
You need to upgrade your account
In some cases, you may see the ‘message locked’ notice even if the recipient has messaging enabled because LinkedIn requires you to have a premium account to message some members. This is part of LinkedIn’s monetization strategy.
Specifically, if the recipient has a premium Business or Sales Navigator account, LinkedIn restricts you from messaging them unless you also have one of those upgraded account types. So even if the recipient’s settings allow messages, you still can’t reach them with a free Basic account.
Upgrading to a premium Business account or Sales Navigator account will remove most of these restrictions and allow you to message a wider range of members. So if messaging important prospects or connections is critical for you, upgrading can be worth the monthly fee.
How to tell if someone has messaging enabled
Given messaging settings are the most common reason for seeing ‘message locked,’ it can be helpful to check if someone has messaging enabled before trying to send them a message.
While you can’t see someone’s exact settings, there are a few clues that suggest whether messaging may be open or restricted:
- Do they have a premium Business or Sales Navigator badge on their profile? If so, messaging is more likely to be enabled.
- Do they have an anonymous profile without a photo or background info? If so, messaging may be restricted.
- Check their posts – do they engage with comments and replies? Active engagement suggests open messaging.
- Look at their connection number – higher connection counts (500+) usually mean more open messaging.
While not definitive, these hints can help you determine if someone is receptive to unsolicited messages before you attempt to contact them.
Getting around ‘message locked’ restrictions
If you encounter a ‘message locked’ notice, there are a few ways to try to get around the restriction:
- Send a connection request – If the person accepts your connection request, you can message them even if they have messaging limited to connections only.
- InMail – LinkedIn’s InMail system lets you message anyone, but requires a premium account and costs credits per message.
- Share content mentioning them – Comment on their posts or share an update mentioning them to try to get their attention.
- Upgrade your account – As mentioned, some restrictions lift if you upgrade to premium Business or Sales Navigator.
However, keep in mind you should respect people’s messaging preferences and not try to circumvent restrictions just to contact them.
Why LinkedIn limits messaging
Messaging limits and restrictions are in place on LinkedIn for a few reasons:
- Member privacy – Gives members control over who can contact them directly.
- Reduces spam/harassment – Limits unsolicited outreach from people you don’t know.
- Premium feature incentive – Encourages upgrading to paid accounts to access more features.
- Revenue driver – InMail credits are a key way LinkedIn monetizes their platform.
While messaging limits can be frustrating, they aim to balance member experience, privacy, and LinkedIn’s business model.
Best practices for messaging on LinkedIn
To maximize your messaging reach and results on LinkedIn, keep these best practices in mind:
- Personalize messages to show you read their profile.
- Make clear the reason for your outreach in the first sentence.
- Follow up messages with connection requests when appropriate.
- Focus on quality over quantity – thoughtful messages get better results.
- Respect it if someone doesn’t respond and don’t over-message them.
- Upgrade to Business or Sales Navigator if you will rely heavily on messaging.
- Use content mentions, shares and comments to interact first before direct messaging.
With the right strategy, you can have productive conversations on LinkedIn despite the messaging restrictions in place.
If you consistently run into ‘message locked’ notices, here are some troubleshooting tips:
- Double check your account settings – make sure you have messaging enabled.
- Try messaging connections who are active on LinkedIn first.
- Upgrade to Business or Sales Navigator if outreach is critical.
- Make your profile more complete and professional.
- Expand your network by engaging on content, groups, etc to meet new people.
- Use advanced searches to find people open to outreach, like job seekers or those with high connection counts.
- Bookmark profiles you want to message in the future and wait for them to open messaging.
With some adjustments, you should be able to build an outreach list and find members receptive to messaging.
LinkedIn messaging can feel restricted at times, but serves an important purpose in giving members control over their inbox. The main reasons you may encounter ‘message locked’ include the recipient limiting messages to connections only, hitting their account’s monthly cap on messages, or requiring the sender to have a premium account.
With the right practices you can have productive conversations by personalizing outreach, upgrading your account when needed, and engaging with connections on content before direct messaging. While limitations can be frustrating, they help balance value for all members on the platform.