LinkedIn can be a great tool for marketing your practice, building your network and connecting with others, but it has pitfalls just like any other marketing tool. Rather than using LinkedIn as a legitimate tool to grow their network or further relationships with existing contacts, some people use it as simply a platform for promoting themselves – or to spam other LinkedIn members.
So how do you block unwanted messages from LinkedIn members?
LinkedIn doesn’t give you the ability to completely block an individual, or even to block specific people from viewing your profile, but you do have options to restrict your profile’s visibility or cut down on unwanted messages. But you probably won’t want to hide your profile photo or the public version of your profile so that only people logged in to LinkedIn can see it. After all, if you joined LinkedIn to make new connections and to do business you will want to be visible to potential clients and referral sources, whether they are LinkedIn members or not.
You can restrict who can send you invitations to connect through LinkedIn only to those people who have your email address or whose contacts you have imported yourself. If you decide to do this, make sure you keep your imported contacts address book updated. And check the Blocked Messages in your LinkedIn Inbox (go to your inbox, click on all messages, then blocked messages) to review messages blocked so that you don’t miss an important invitation.
If you have already connected to someone and are now regretting it, disconnect by going to your connections page and clicking on ‘remove connections’ in the upper right corner. When you remove a connection, they will not be notified that you have done so.
When you receive unwanted messages, identify them as spam. Mark individual messages as spam right from your Inbox by clicking on the triangle with the ! at the bottom of the message in your Inbox. Or open the message and click on the report spam button at the top of the screen (see below). If you have received several of these messages, mark every one Spam so LinkedIn takes notice.
Spam through Groups
A lot of spam comes through Groups. If you are the Group owner or manager, you have a lot more options than regular Group members. Owners or managers can remove, block, or block and delete any member in your Group using the Manage tab within the Group. Removing a member takes the member out of the Group but does not delete past contributions, and they can request to join again. Blocking the member will prevent them from joining again, but their past contributions still will not be removed. Blocking and deleting will prevent them from joining again and remove all past contributions.
As an individual Group member, other members of the Group can see all of your contributions to the Group. You can’t stop other Group members from following you unless you leave the Group. LinkedIn also makes it easier for Group members to request invitations to connect. You can combat that by making your invitation requirements stricter (see above), but again, this might block people you want to try to connect with you as well.
To combat a spammer who is a fellow member of a Group in which you want to remain active, try following these additional steps:
Adjust your settings for that Group: under More within the Group navigation, click on Your Settings and then un-check the box for Member Messages. This way, members of the Group who are not already connected to you cannot send you messages directly.
If the Spam is coming in the form of posts to the Group, rather than individual messages sent directly to you, you have some additional options. Many Groups specifically prohibit promotion, off-topic posts or job postings in their rules (to see the rules for a particular Group, click on the Group Rules button on the top right on that Group’s page.)
If a Group Member posts an entire discussion that is inappropriate, you can flag the topic as inappropriate by clicking on the flag below the discussion and marking it as inappropriate (see below).
If a specific comment within a discussion is objectionable, hover your mouse over the bottom of the comment and you’ll see the “Flag as inappropriate” link appear.
If specific kinds of posts are prohibited and a particular member is repeatedly violating the Group’s rules, or if the Group’s rules in general are being ignored by several members, you might get additional attention by contacting the Group’s owner/manager directly to report the problem.