Replying to LinkedIn Email is Hazardous to Your Relationships!

Someone sent you this terrific LinkedIn message – and you responded in great detail to this wonderful opportunity, but it’s gone nowhere – why?

Later on you met up with them in-person at a networking event and asked about it, but they denied ever seeing anything from you in response and moved on.

How frustrating is that!

The answer is all in the little details and how you tried to use the system – and I’ll show you…

Messages from LinkedIn

The beginning of the answer is noticing how LinkedIn sends you email.

Every so often you’ll get short messages from LinkedIn letting you know what’s been happening.  The email subjects are something like “LinkedIn Messages” or “LinkedIn Network Updates“. The emails come from “LinkedIn Communication <>” or “LinkedIn Updates <>”.

This is all normal and you’d never expect an answer if you replied to those messages, right?

Messages from other individuals on LinkedIn

So what happens when a LinkedIn user sends you a message – either a request to connect, an InMail, or a group message?

It comes from:

John Smith (LinkedIn Messages) <>”.

Now that’s interesting isn’t it…

You’ve received it in your email system (because LinkedIn wanted you to know about it right away), and the name that you see is an individual’s name.  But the address at the end – that’s nobody’s:

If you happen to hit the “reply” button on your email client, you will compose a wonderful message – and send it into a black hole.

Let me repeat that for effect – if you reply to this note through email, your message will never be seen again.

How to respond

If you’d like to reply to that message, you MUST login to the LinkedIn site, view the message there, and use LinkedIn’s reply button.

Protecting everybody

You might say that this is an odd behavior, but it really is in line with the LinkedIn way – just because the system allows you to send messages to each other doesn’t mean that everyone has given permission to send their email address to everyone else.

If you want your email address known, you’ve got to include it in your message.

(And yes, I’ve also talked about taking a conversation to email because the LinkedIn message system is not what everyone expects;-)

By the way…

You know you have complete control over the messages from LinkedIn, right?  It’s there under the “Account & Settings” tab .  If you’re getting messages and you want to change the frequency – do it there.  And if you want your messages to go to another email account, you change it in there. (And follow the advice in this post to add email addresses to your LinkedIn account and set a new one as primary;-)

To your continued success,

Steven Tylock


  1. Steve,

    Thanks for publicizing this fact about LinkedIn. I had someone try to send me a message in that way…Fortunately, he had my phone number and followed up with a call when I never responded to his message (which I of course never got). There are several other “dropped” conversations that I am now left wondering about. (Did the person respond in their e-mail reader and send a message into a black hole or did they just not respond?)

    I’ve communicated with the support folks at LinkedIn and they told me that one should receive a bounce notification when one sends to . I told them that this is not happening and they agreed to forward this whole issue on to their engineers, although they didn’t seem to understand the urgency of a problem in a medium that is geared around networking where both parties are left believing that the other one had dropped the conversation!

    Hopefully, they will fix this soon.

  2. Joel,

    It’s great that you had the patience to contact LinkedIn support;-)

    I just sent a message over to to check – it just heads out into neverland.

    It would be better if they didn’t list the email as coming from an individual but said it was from “LinkedIn on behalf of John Smith”.


  3. Thanks for that useful, informative post

    I responded to 3 messages this way last week and didn’t get a single bounce message.

    I have to say it is shocking, as there is nothing in the body of the text to say not to reply directly. Further, there is no easily found statement of this fact to be found in the help pages either. It is only on close inspection that you see the “” assigned to whoever you think you are replying to that might make you question what they do with your mail. Selecting “reply” in the email client results in an apparently valid “display name” for this duff email address which is not an acceptable “customer proposition”

    There is no technical reason why an email to a general inbox cannot be routed to correct user so long as the display name was made unique by LinkedIn (some eService email software does this). This would be consistent with keeping peoples address anonymous.

    No, this is really, really poor. If they introduce such user unfriendly features into the service I am not sure they understand their own medium. How many people who have mailed me like this think I am a rude??? so-and-so. I will be considering my future use of the platform

  4. Coherers,

    Glad I could bring it out into the light of day for you.

    As in all things LinkedIn, they do what they do for what one hopes are “good” reasons.

    In this case, by protecting users from inbound email, they honor their commitment to protect users from other users. (And I’m writing my next post about this)

    The thing that is not-so-nice is that it appears that one could in fact reply to the email… If they changed the message to be from LinkedIn on behalf of So-and-So, they might keep the high “open” rate on the email, and clue the recipient in that replying won’t go back to the user.


  5. Steve,

    I appreciate the great article, it is still useful a year+ later. However, I wonder if this functionality is new since your writing, and you’d be willing to address it.

    I had someone send me a message, which went to both my email and inbox (that’s great, I want it tracked in my inbox). I read it first on email, and knowing better, I knew not to simply try and “Reply.” What seemed to be an alternative to logging in to my linkin inbox, was a link in the email that said “click here to reply to so and so…” Great! It looks like LI is actually doing something to help remove the ambiguous and problematic issues you addressed. That link took me to a very general looking page with a To: So and So, From: Me, an area for my reply, and a “Send Message” button. I used it, expecting the message to then show up in my Inbox. Well, it didn’t show up as a reply or in my sent items. It’s as if I never sent the reply.

    I have no idea if this message was sent, and if it was, why won’t it be tracked as a reply to the existing conversation, or at worst, a new conversation in my Inbox?

    Thanks a ton for your insight. All the best.

  6. Ben,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I have a reasonably recent LinkedIn message in my email archive and had a look – I see a “View/reply to this message” link within the email.

    When I click on that, it takes me to the message within LinkedIn. (and you can tell because when hovering over the link it displays a “……” html link) It’s clearly within LinkedIn when I get there – I have the full LinkedIn site around it.

    Now – I notice that the text phrase you’ve used is different than what I see – so that means it might be the same, or it might be different;-)

    Try this – hover over the link – what sort of page is it going to send you to?

    I’m guessing that it may not have been a LinkedIn mechanism – because you’re right, the message should be in your sent folder. (but sometimes it is very difficult to actually find things in LinkedIn’s message archive;-)

    Let me know – we’ll get to the bottom of this.


  7. Hi,
    I recently noticed that Linkedin has fixed this problem. If you reply to any message sent from LinkedIn member, it goes straight to his/her personal mail id that is registered with LinkedIn.

    Well Done!


  8. Abhishek,

    Perhaps not – if the individual is one of your connections, or you have previously shared messages back and forth, it will, but just today I received a message. Here’s the email header:

    from: Olivier T (LinkedIn Messages)
    to: Steve Tylock
    date: Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 7:43 AM
    subject: Your Expertise in OD and Training

    And as you can see, it might be confusing to the reader, but replying to the message within email will send it to “” – and that will never get delivered.


  9. …ok, so it’s 3 years since the last comment that I’ve come across this forum in my search for the “”…

    I received a request to link with someone in a completely different field than I am, in a city I have never lived in or done business in…and I don’t have a Linked-In account.

    Sounded like a scam, so just to be safe, I attempted to Log-In to Linked-In with my e-mail address where I received the notice, and asked to reset my lost password, and Linked-In confirmed there is no account for this e-mail address. Which to me, confirmed the e-mail is not a valid Linked-In e-mail, and that the obvious intent of whomever actually sent the e-mail, is for me to click the huge blue button imbedded in the e-mail, which I didn’t dare touch.

    Thought I would share this, in hopes of preventing someone else from falling for this obvious phishing attempt or otherwise?


Comments are closed.