When trying to send a message to someone on LinkedIn, you may sometimes see a lock icon next to the message button. This indicates that you are unable to directly message that LinkedIn member.
There are a few main reasons why you may be unable to message someone on LinkedIn:
You are not connected to the member
On LinkedIn, you can only directly message other members if you are connected to them. This is a core part of LinkedIn’s messaging functionality and privacy settings.
If you try to message someone you are not connected to, you will see the lock icon. This prevents people from messaging strangers or spamming other members.
To message the member, you will need to connect with them first. You can send them a connection invitation which they can choose to accept or ignore.
The member has restricted who can message them
LinkedIn allows members to control who can message them. Under the Privacy & Settings options, members can restrict messages to only 1st-degree connections, or 2nd-degree connections and above.
For example, if a member has their settings to only allow 1st-degree connections to message them, you will not be able to message them, even if you are connected, unless you are a 1st-degree connection.
You can check if this is the case by looking at the member’s profile. If it says “Only accepts messages from 1st-degree connections” under the message button, then you know your 2nd or 3rd-degree connection is preventing you from messaging.
The member’s account is locked down
Some members on LinkedIn lock down their accounts entirely to prevent unsolicited outreach. This means no one can message them unless they explicitly allow it.
You may see “This member has restricted who can see their profile and send messages” when trying to message a locked down account. The member maintains full control over who can contact them.
You have been blocked by the member
If a member has actively blocked you on LinkedIn, you will be unable to message them. They have the ability to block specific members if they want to prevent contact.
A blocked member will see the lock icon when trying to message the person who blocked them. There is no indication to the blocked member that they have been blocked.
The member’s inbox is full
LinkedIn members are limited to 20,000 unread messages at any given time. If a popular member has hit that limit, they will be unable to receive new messages until they clear out some of the existing ones.
Trying to message someone whose inbox is full will trigger the lock icon. The best option is to try again later once the member has freed up space in their inbox.
You have been flagged for spam-like behavior
If LinkedIn’s automated filters detect someone engaging in spam-like messaging behavior, such as mass messaging strangers, they may restrict that member’s ability to message others.
This serves as a penalty for violating LinkedIn’s policies around appropriate messaging. The lock icon will appear until the flag is removed, either automatically over time or upon request.
Their employment information is outdated
LinkedIn will sometimes restrict messaging when a member’s employment information appears suspicious or outdated. This is to prevent people from impersonating employees of certain companies.
For example, if someone still has an employment listed at a company they left years ago, LinkedIn may limit their ability to message people to prevent potential scams or misrepresentations.
How to message members when locked out
If you are locked out from directly messaging someone, here are some ways you can try to still reach them:
- Send them a connection invitation – If they accept, you can message them
- Ask for an introduction through a shared connection
- Invite them to follow you – They may be more likely to accept a connection
- Send them an InMail if you have credits, which bypasses some messaging limits
- Interact with their content to stay on their radar, like commenting, liking, etc.
The lock icon aims to balance privacy, security, and the integrity of the LinkedIn community. While it can be frustrating at times, respecting members’ settings and restrictions will create a better messaging experience for everyone.
With some persistence and genuine relationship-building, you can often find appropriate ways to engage and message even hard-to-reach members on LinkedIn.