If you are using LinkedIn for lead generation, you cannot afford a LinkedIn account restriction as it significantly curtails your social selling efforts.
Landing yourself in “LinkedIn jail” is a serious matter, however, there is hope that you can have the restriction lifted, but your best strategy is not to end up there in the first place.
Should the worst happen and you land in LinkedIn jail, I am going to share with you how to get out and also how to avoid it in the first place.
LinkedIn is the social media platform of professionals and business people. Professional conduct and behavior are not only expected, but it is also required. If a behaviour would be frowned upon in a face to face meeting with a client or in a professional place of business, then chances are it is not appropriate on LinkedIn either.
It is also incredibly important to be respectful in every interaction you have with other LinkedIn members. There are even a set of LinkedIn Professional Community Policies that you are expected to abide by.
Here are examples of conduct or activity that may result in your account being restricted:
- An unusually large number of page views from the account.
- The name used in the account profile is in violation of the User Agreement.
- They’ve detected inappropriate or illegal activity on the account.
- A history of repetitive abusive behavior on the account.
- They’ve detected that the account may have been hacked or compromised.
Depending on the violation, you may have content removed or your account restricted. More severe violations can actually have your account restricted indefinitely.
Do this, not that on LinkedIn!
LinkedIn has created their own list of dos and don’ts that outline their expectations of behaviour and how you will use their services, which you can find as part of their User Agreement. To help remove any doubt for you about what is and is not acceptable on LinkedIn, here is an overview of their expectations of your use and behaviour on LinkedIn.
Here is a short and concise list of what you must DO on LinkedIn:
Comply with all applicable laws: This includes (but is not limited too) privacy laws, intellectual property laws, anti-spam laws, export control laws, tax laws and regulatory requirements.
Provide accurate information and keep it updated: Ensure that your contact info such as your email address (which you can hide) as well as your employment is maintained as up-to-date and accurate as possible. This also helps ensure you look credible with those who view your profile.
Use your real name on your profile: While you might be inclined to add special characters or contact information in your name field, just don’t. As well as breaking LinkedIn’s User Agreement, it looks unprofessional.
Use the platform in a professional manner: LinkedIn is a business social media platform where professionals can build relationships. It is not a dating site nor is it a place to collect people’s private info, so you can spam them and add them to an email list without their permission.
Do not do this:
LinkedIn’s list of what NOT to do is significantly longer.
In fact, I have not included the entire Do not list here, as many of them relate to the more technical aspects of the platform, such as attempting to derive their source code or place an unreasonable load on their servers with spam or viruses.
The violations I am including below, are ones I have seen a variety of LinkedIn members make. You can see the full list of LinkedIn “Dos and Don’ts” here.
Regardless, violating any of these terms can get your account restricted, and many of them are also unethical.
Create a false identity on LinkedIn: Fake accounts, even if they are not created to spam, muddy the network waters, so to speak, for all users.
Disclose information that you do not have the consent to disclose: Quite simply put, do not share info that is not yours to share, whether it is another LinkedIn members or your employers.
Imply or state that you are affiliated with or endorsed by LinkedIn without their express consent: Even if you are a LinkedIn expert, don’t say you are an “accredited LinkedIn trainer” if you aren’t.
Violate the intellectual property rights of others: This can include but is not limited to copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets or other proprietary rights. You can “share” someone’s post, but if you want to do more than this, you need to ask their permission.
Use software to scrape information or otherwise copy profiles and other data: Unless you are planning on spamming people, there is no good reason to scrape anyone’s data from their profile.
Five Frequently Asked Questions on LinkedIn Account Restrictions
1. What does it mean when my LinkedIn account is restricted?
It can be downright scary to find yourself looking at a page that says:
We’ve Restricted Your Account Temporarily
It appears you’re visiting a very high number of pages on LinkedIn with supernatural frequency. We think you may be using an automation tool…
…Please note that engaging further in such activity may result in a permanent restriction on your account.
This is not a message you want to see when you log in to your LinkedIn account.
Thankfully, unless you are using an automation tool, third-party application or website that frequently and systematically retrieves data from your LinkedIn account, this shouldn’t be an issue. But if you have been using an automation tool, whether or not you have seen this message, yet I would advise you to stop using it ASAP.
LinkedIn shares this recommendation when you get the restricted account message:
If your account has been temporarily suspended for excessive page requests, it will automatically be re-enabled at the time specified on the suspension notification. Please be aware that repeated suspensions may result in a permanent restriction of your LinkedIn account.
2. What happens when someone selects “I don’t know this person” option for LinkedIn invitations
When you send a LinkedIn connection request to someone, they can choose to Accept or Ignore your invite.
If they click Ignore, they then will also have the option to select ‘I don’t know this person.’
If you receive an excessive number of ‘I don’t know this person’ responses, your account could be restricted from sending invitations to others, and this will destroy your ability to connect with prospects and expand your network.
There is no way for you to see which recipients, or how many recipients, have selected “I don’t know this person” in response to your invitations.
Thankfully there is a way to prevent this from happening – send a friendly and personalized connection request every time. If you write your message properly, even if someone doesn’t want to connect with you, they won’t report you… at least 99.9999% of the time.
I get it, LinkedIn makes it VERY easy to accidentally send the default connection request, especially on the mobile app. You must consciously and actively avoid sending the default invitation as well as take the time to do a little research and write a truly personalized connection request, not a templated message.
This one LinkedIn best practice will be the difference between someone clicking Accept or ‘I don’t know this person’ in response to your connection request.
3. What does it mean if I get the “Help us keep conversations on LinkedIn professional” notification
So just what does it mean if your login and see a notification that says:
Help us keep conversations on LinkedIn professional.
This means that you have been flagged for sending messages to your connections that are inappropriate or in violation of LinkedIn’s User Agreement and Community Policies. If you continue to send out these messages, you may be locked out of your account or even permanently restricted.
If your LinkedIn account has been hacked, report this right away.
4. What do I do if my LinkedIn account is hacked?
It is a very unsettling thing to find out your LinkedIn account has been hacked. I have some idea what that would feel like as years ago my Twitter account was hacked and actually held for ransom. Thankfully I had a client that was personal friends with the CEO of Twitter, and he came to my rescue. I don’t think most of us (myself included) would have this option if our LinkedIn account were hacked.
If you can’t access your LinkedIn account with your login information or you notice that changes are being made to your account, you need to let LinkedIn know right away. You do this by submitting a Reporting Your Hacked Account form as soon as you are able.
Include your LinkedIn profile URL if you know it. A quick way to find it is to google your name (as it is written in your LinkedIn profile). Look for your LinkedIn profile in the search results.
Be sure to complete the form thoroughly. Once LinkedIn has received it, they will verify that it’s your account and then help you regain access.
If you can still log in, but believe you have been hacked, there are some steps that LinkedIn recommends you take immediately:
If you think that someone else has access to your LinkedIn account, but you’re still able to log into your account, please submit the form and immediately take the following actions to protect your account:
- Complete the Reporting Your Hacked Account form.
- Change your password. Make it a strong, random password that you don’t use anywhere else.
- Turn on two-step verification. Even if someone gets your username and password, they will NOT be able to hack your account.
- Review your active sessions. This shows you all of the places that you currently signed into. If you don’t recognize a location or device, be sure to change your password. Make sure you log out all sessions from time to time.
- Review all email addresses and phone numbers on your LinkedIn account. Make sure they are all your and up-to-date, in case they need to send you a link to reset your password.
If you notice that one of your connections has possibly been hacked, you can quickly report this.
1. Go to their profile.
2. Click on the More… button below their name and image.
3. Select Report/Block.
4. Click the option I think this account may have been hacked and click submit.
5. How do I get my LinkedIn account unrestricted?
If you are dealing with a LinkedIn account restriction or you have had content removed, there is a process you can follow, to appeal this.
To start the appeal process to have the restriction removed, log into your LinkedIn account. Then you will want to follow the on-screen messaging.
If you had content removed, log in and reply to the message that you received that provided notice of the content removal.
If you have been restricted for being flagged too many times with “I do not know this person” it is likely that LinkedIn is not requiring you to enter in the email address for each and every person you send a connection request to. Send LinkedIn a support message acknowledging this restriction and politely asking them if they will lift it. You could even explain that you will be more diligent in personalizing your connection request messages in the future so that this doesn’t happen again.
Alternatively, you can send a message to LinkedIn Support or tweet their @LinkedInHelp account on Twitter. Keep in mind that you are asking for help or forgiveness, or both, so you want to be concise, patient and most importantly, polite in your interactions for best results.
Getting out of LinkedIn Jail
It’s much better to avoid LinkedIn jail rather than to find a way out after it’s happened.
You can easily avoid having your LinkedIn account restricted or your content removed by following the simple and quite frankly, common sense rules and expectations, laid out in LinkedIn’s User Agreement and Professional Community Policies.
I’m sure avoiding a LinkedIn account restriction is your first choice, but at least you know there’s a way out should the worst happen. Bookmark this page should you ever need it, and please share it with any friends or colleagues that you think should read this too.