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“Steve, what’s up? Fred”

Great to get – unless you don’t happen to know Fred…

Then it’s an annoyance.

Michael asked in an email if I’d address this issue – and that sounds like fun, so let’s look at it.

Specific communications from LinkedIn…

Before we answer the question “Is it possible to block a particular unfriendly user from sending you emails through LinkedIn?” we have to understand what is being asked.

Because strictly speaking, LinkedIn doesn’t send email…  but what communication methods are there?

  • Access a profile’s email address [contacts only]
  • Find an email address in a profile
  • Send message [contacts only]
  • Request an introduction [2nd & 3rd level contacts]
  • Send a message to a group member
  • Send an InMail
  • Request to connect

Now Michael wasn’t specific about all of these, but I ought to address them…

An actual email

Now – everyone you connect to has access to your “primary” email, and in general this is a good thing.  When you change providers and update your LinkedIn email, they’ll see the new one.

Some individuals have left their email address in their profile somewhere – anyone who sees the profile can use that.

And so – if someone is really sending you an email, that isn’t a LinkedIn thing – even if they found your address within LinkedIn.

So you can’t use LinkedIn to “stop” it…

But you can filter that email, flag it as spam, or otherwise redirect it so that you don’t have to bother with it.

(Now placing your email address inside your profile and/or connecting to people that you don’t know is something you can control…  Take those actions and you open yourself to this sort of email)

Send a message

LinkedIn does allow you to send a message to up to 50 direct connections.  You select the recipients, type the message, and away it goes.

Now most users have LinkedIn configured to send them an email when another users sends a message, but that isn’t required.

And – if you happen to connect to a particularly unfriendly user – you should disconnect from them! Then they can’t do this any more…

Request an introduction

This is the “best” way to meet people, and the common relationship provides the glue for the introduction.  You know Sam, Sam knows Jane.  Jane asks Sam to introduce her to you.

And when Sam agrees to the request, LinkedIn will send you a message saying that there’s a request for introduction.

This should happen “badly” at most once – if Sam forwards a request for something that is unfriendly, you’re going to ask him what’s up with that?  Either he apologizes and says it won’t happen again, or you realize that you can’t trust him and disconnect…

There’s no way to “block” this, but once you disconnect it can’t happen again through that contact.

Send message to a group member

One of the benefits of group membership is the ability to send messages to fellow group members. As long as you don’t abuse this it works great.

You have control over receiving messages though – turn that off if group members are unfriendly.

Or you could leave the group.

Or you could report the bad behavior to the group owner/manager.

Send an InMail

And here’s LinkedIn’s private email-like service – if you want to reach someone you’re not connected to, you can pay for InMails.

As a user however, you can tell LinkedIn that you are not open to receiving any InMails – but you can’t be selective about it.  “I want InMails from everyone but Snidely Whiplash”…

Sorry – you can’t do that.

But when you receive Snidely’s InMail, you can affect his “feedback” rating by not responding – letting others know he sends junk messages.

Requesting a Connection

And this is perhaps the method with the most direct response.

If someone sends an unfriendly message in the form of a request for connection, I would happily select “I don’t know this person” and then follow up with “Report as Spam” if I was particularly annoyed.

One they get a ding when trying to do that in the future, and two LinkedIn may look into their overall activity.

And just to be clear – I don’t consider  people that are too lazy to change the invitation text and who have no relationship with me to be “unfriendly” – merely unknowing. I do not punish them by doing either of these actions, but yes – if someone offends me through this mechanism, I don’t have any issue in reporting that bad behavior. LinkedIn wasn’t created to enable someone else to harass me.

Not so clear…

So unfortunately there isn’t a clear cut answer for Michael – it depends;-) But to the extent that I can guide you in the different ways to respond, I hope I’ve helped.

To your continued success,

steve

Steven Tylock
http://www.linkedinpersonaltrainer.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevetylock