How to get around LinkedIn’s Commercial Use Limits

LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for outbound sales prospecting. We have published articles previously about how to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to shorten the sales cycle. Sales Navigator is designed with people in business development (and recruitment) roles in mind. Prices start at $64.99 per month (billed annually), or $134.99 per license when buying on behalf of a team (billed monthly).

Why use LinkedIn Sales Navigator?

Benefits of using Sales Navigator include:

  • 5% Higher Win Rates
  • 35% Larger Deal Sizes
  • 34% of Opportunities Sourced
  • 61% of Revenue Influenced

As part of what LinkedIn offers, you get 20 InMail messages per month, or an additional 10 per month per user if your company subscribes to the Team plan. Enterprise plan holders get a further 20 InMail messages per month.

For those who aren’t subscribers, LinkedIn only lets you send messages to those you are directly connected with. Only those who subscribe to Sales Navigator can send InMail messages.

However, this does mean you have an upper limit on the number of InMail messages that you can send. Connecting with people is the most effective way around this. But LinkedIn has another restriction you might not be aware of, but one that can easily impact people doing a lot of outbound sales activity.

LinkedIn places a commercial use limit on the number of searches you can run every day.

As you approach this limit, LinkedIn will give you a warning. Once exceeded, you can still see search results, just not as many as it was showing you before the limit was hit.

Why does LinkedIn have these limits?

Since the early-days, before it was bought by Microsoft, LinkedIn wants users to interact with people in the most natural way possible. Yes, by definition, a professional social network is about making money.

But what LinkedIn didn’t want is for the platform to become a place where people get pitched at; or at least, not all day, every day. Cold pitching does not make for a great experience, nor is what successful selling is about, either. And yet, give millions of sales professionals and recruiters a vast audience and a percentage of them will only use the platform for cold blast emails that get a handful of responses and annoy everyone else.

Understandably, LinkedIn was and still is concerned about the user-experience. They were concerned that if pitches were being fired at people every day, without any introductions or getting to know one another, it wouldn’t feel like a social network for long. And people would leave.

LinkedIn was right to be concerned about this, so they put limits in place. Hence a limit on the number of InMail messages, the number of 1st-level connections someone can have (30,000) and alongside those, a limit on the number of searches people can run.

How does LinkedIn define a fair commercial use with searches?

Firstly, it’s useful to know what doesn’t count when it comes to understanding this commercial use limit:

  • Searching for someone’s name — or even a whole bunch of someone’s — doesn’t count;
  • Neither does browsing 1st-level connections from the ‘My Network’ tab;
  • And neither does exploring the People You May Know feature.

So the good news is, none of the above has any impact on the number of searches you can run. Job searches are also not included in the daily search limit.

Here is what does count:

  • Searching for LinkedIn profiles using keywords and filters (e.g. if you are consistently searching for “VP Marketing”, or “CEO”, this is activity automated systems are going to monitor and flag);
  • Use apps that run in the background, especially if these are automated third-party lead generation apps (and you might notice that their output reduces after a number of hours; this is why). You should also note that these are against LinkedIn’s terms of use and can get your account blocked.

LinkedIn automatically flags the above activity as being used for lead generation and/or recruitment, so it treats it as something that needs to be capped to avoid the platform being used too heavily for outbound sales activities.

The commercial use limit resets every day, midnight PST.

How to get around the LinkedIn commercial use limit?

For those who aren’t currently subscribing to Sales Navigator, repeated usage limit warnings could be a clear sign that now is the time for an individual or professional upgrade.

Sales Navigator doesn’t include this limit, although there is still a cap to the number of connections you can have and InMail messages that can be sent.

If you or your boss isn’t ready to allocate budget to this yet, remember you can get around the limit by searching for people’s names (so if you’ve found a target prospect on a website, start with that), or through the connections you already have, and the ones that LinkedIn is suggesting.

You can also add prospect email addresses as potential connections and this will also avoid the commercial use limits. Providing you use LinkedIn in the right way, even without a Sales Navigator subscription, you can find dozens and dozens of potential sales prospects on the platform every day.

Once you are sending messages to new connections, make sure you’ve got something of interest when they land on your profile. Such as links to lead generation content and articles. Use online demo software, such as CrankWheel, to set-up instant online demos if a potential lead has the time and has shown an interest in what you are offering.