On LinkedIn, there are different degrees of connection. As a person who wants to expand their network, you need to understand the differences between connections who are labeled “1”, “2”, and “3+”. Not only do you need to know what these signs mean, but you also need to know how to interact with these connections.
These degrees of connection dictate how you can interact with other users in your network. People in your network are called connections: there are 1st-degree connections, 2nd-degree connections, and 3rd-degree connections on LinkedIn. Your network also includes fellow members of your LinkedIn groups.
Accepting A LinkedIn Invitation
1st-degree connections are the people you are connected to directly. These are the people who connected to you by accepting your LinkedIn invitation. When you accept someone’s LinkedIn invitation, they also become a 1st-degree connection.
LinkedIn will show you the 1st-degree icon next to that user’s name in search results and on their actual profile. When it comes to interactions, 1st-degree connections have the most freedom to communicate. You can send them a message on LinkedIn—something you can’t do with other connections in your network.
2nd-degree connections are people who are connected to your 1st-degree connections. Think of them as a mutual friend on Facebook. You are not yet connected, but you may know each other as colleagues or acquaintances. You may even belong in the same field or work in the same company. 2nd-degree connections may eventually become 1st-degree connections if one of you sends an invitation and the other one accepts.
2nd-degree connections will have the 2nd-degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile. While you cannot message them directly, you are still able to send them an InMail—this is LinkedIn’s feature that allows you to message people you are not yet connected with.
Click on the Connection Button
You can also click the Connect button on their profile page to automatically send an invite. Once they accept it, they will become a 1st-degree connection.
3rd-degree connections are the people who are connected to your 2nd-degree connections. They will have a 3+ indicator. If their full first and last names are displayed, you will be able to send them an invitation by clicking Connect.
If only the first letter of their last name is displayed, then the option to Connect won’t be available. However, you may still contact them through an InMail.
In addition to your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree connections, the people who are members of the same LinkedIn groups as you are also considered part of your network. If you visit the Highlights section of a member’s profile, you will see the groups that you are both parts of.
You can contact fellow members of your LinkedIn groups by sending them a message on LinkedIn. You may also message them directly through the group.
Finally, there are people who are out of your network. You may send them InMails to invite them, but they are less likely to accept the invitation because you don’t know each other. These profiles that are out of your network will have limited visibility, but you can still try to contact them and introduce yourself using the InMail feature.
Understanding your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree connections is the first step in expanding your network. LinkedIn is all about networking and building strong relationships.
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