3 ways to contact LinkedIn members who are not open to receiving InMail

It's happened to all recruiters and sourcers at some point. You're scouring LinkedIn or LinkedIn Recruiter in the hopes of finding the ideal candidate. You skim the preview, see what you're looking for, and excitedly click to open the profile.

Excitement turns into disappointment when you see the greyed out/faint colored "Send InMail" button or message that reads, "[Name] is not currently open to receiving introductions or InMail.”

The fact that someone on a professional social networking site is being anti-social does strike me as a bit ironic. Still, there are a few workarounds that may be useful to try before you move on to the next profile.

Using my own name as an example, here are three options to finding alternate ways to contact people you've discovered on LinkedIn.

1) Deep Web

Start with a search for the candidate's full name in quotations, and the operator NOT LinkedIn.* This technique works best for uncommon names. For "John Doe," go straight to option 2.

Search string 1: "Maisha Cannon" -LinkedIn OR "Maisha Cannon" -LinkedIn -Facebook

*I also exclude Facebook in this first pass. Feel free to ask why if curious...

Review results and add "near email OR contact OR phone." Near will find words within 10 words of each other.

Search string 2:  "Maisha Cannon" -LinkedIn -Facebook near (phone OR contact OR email)

This search resulted in a Twitter handle that allows me to follow the prospect on Twitter. If I am followed back, I can direct message the person via Twitter.

Next, search the world wide web for the Twitter handle in the hopes that this person is also using this online name elsewhere. If those results are too limited, I will try the NEAR operator again.

Search string 3: talentgenie NEAR (gmail.com OR yahoo.com OR live.com) *

*UPDATE: The NEAR operator only works on Bing.com. AROUND(x) should be used for Google. Thanks for the catch, Irina! For more, see this post on Boolean Black Belt.

Voila! The first results shows the name of the person I'm looking for and an email.

You can also try this string with the full name of the person in quotation marks.

Know the industry and use relevant sites to help track down where the person is present online.  For example, if you're looking for a software engineer, try the full name with NEAR (Github OR StackOverflow).

Get creative. If you need to add the school or city name, go for it. Though I tend to rely heavily on Google, Bing is another option for deep web searches.

If you still aren't able to find anything viable, try a filetype search. You will likely get far fewer search results, but you may hit the jackpot (or find another clue that leads you to the next search string). If the prospect mentions any professional groups on LinkedIn, I would absolutely add those to the string as a next layer search.

For example,

(1) filetype:pdf "maisha cannon"

(2) filetype:doc "maisha cannon"

(3) filetype:xls "maisha cannon" ("PIHRA" OR "Professionals in Human Resources Association")

2) Call or email the prospect based on current company information

Since you are still able to view current employment information via LinkedIn, you can call the company directly or guess at the prospect's email format. I use verifyemailaddress.org to double check. Rapportive used to be a great way to verify email addresses, but it was purchased by LinkedIn and has lost some of it's core functionality. See a few alternates to Rapportive at the end of this post.

3) YouTube

YouTube allows you to message anyone from their "About" page. If you can locate a person's YouTube page (which you usually can find easily if you've found their Google+ page), it's simple from there.

From the About page on YouTube, click Send Message. That's it! I get about 1 reply from every 3 messages I send this way. Pretty good return rate, I think. One caveat: you must be logged in to your Google/YouTube account to send the message and you must remember to check your YouTube inbox for replies.


The truth is that even if you don't find the email using one of these techniques, you will stumble upon another clue that may lead you down the right path. Such is the joy of sourcing - you never know what idea or clue will lead you to your next step. Be creative, but know when to say when. I'm not a fan of going down too far down the wrong dark alley late at night.

What's worked for you when promising prospects aren't open to receiving InMail?

Alternatives to Rapportive

Quora: Best Alternatives for finding email addresses

8 Ways to Guess and Verify Email Addresses


Maisha Cannon is a Technical Sourcer/Recruiter committed to introducing employers to talent that will enhance and grow their businesses. Over the span of her 15 year career in Human Resources, Maisha has filled over 1,000 positions, and has coached hundreds of candidates on resume writing, interviewing skills, and career planning. She spends her limited free time wishing she were blogging more, engrossed in social media, and catching up on all the shows she's missed on DVR.

Views: 3449

Comment by RecruitingBlogs on September 29, 2014 at 10:36am

Great post - thanks for sharing! Never thought of the YouTube message. Keep posting! 

Comment by Matt Charney on September 29, 2014 at 11:22am

Awesome advice!

Comment by Natalie Morgan on September 29, 2014 at 2:14pm

Hi Maisha -

Thanks for sharing! And since you mentioned it ... why is Facebook excluded with LinkedIn?  I'm assuming if someone's privacy settings are that tight on LinkedIn they might be on Facebook as well...

Natalie Morgan


Comment by Maisha Cannon on September 29, 2014 at 4:48pm

Thanks, RB and Matt!

Hi Natalie,

I exclude FB since messages sent to non-friend accounts end up in a separate Inbox called "Other" (that no one ever checks). There is a fee to deliver it directly to the user's main Inbox. This may change now that FB is uncoupling it's messaging app from the main interface and making it a separate app. Thanks for asking!

Comment by Natalie Morgan on September 29, 2014 at 5:12pm

Good to know!  Thanks! 

Comment by Irina Shamaeva on September 29, 2014 at 8:42pm


Lots of good ideas. I'd like to add ust a couple of notes, to make sure the post is practically useful:

1) "Near" doesn't do anything on Google other than searching for the word near; it would work better on Bing.

2) Instead of the string  filetype:pdf "maisha cannon" | filetype:doc "maisha cannon" it's best to try 

filetype:pdf  | filetype:doc "maisha cannon"  (otherwise it will be looking for something else vs. the documents you are looking to find).

Comment by Maisha Cannon on September 30, 2014 at 2:32am

Hi Irina,

Thanks so much for the comment! Great catch! I did a bit more digging, and you're right, I should be using AROUND(10) instead of NEAR on Google! (Ref: http://lifehacker.com/top-10-clever-google-search-tricks-1450186165) I tried it with our names and it worked. See: recruiting maisha AROUND(10) Irina

Glenn points that out in one of his Boolean Black belt posts here: http://booleanblackbelt.com/2013/07/using-extended-boolean-to-achie...

And I used "|" as a line delineator in the blog, not as part of the search string. I should have been more clear. I will update that now. Didn't realize I could use the "|" to breakup file type operator, but I will try it!

Thanks again!

Comment by Tim Spagnola on September 30, 2014 at 8:44am

This was a helpful read Maisha. Thanks for sharing. 

Comment by Maisha Cannon on September 30, 2014 at 11:01am

Thanks for reading, Tim!

Comment by Nathan Vance on October 5, 2014 at 10:09am

Rock on, Maisha! Good reminder and solid ideas on how to dig, and dig, and then keep digging. Nice refresh on NEAR vs AROUND(x) nuances between Bing and Google. It's easy to fall into only using one (or two) search engines.


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