LinkedIn is all about connections: making connections and building relationships. But many users are not aware that the website creates different kinds of connections—and it is important to know all about these differences in order to make the most out of LinkedIn.
On LinkedIn, the people in your network are referred to as connections. What most people don’t know is that there are different degrees of connection: your network is made up of your 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd degree connections, as well as fellow members of your LinkedIn groups.
Any LinkedIn user can start building their own network by sending invitations to connect with other LinkedIn members. This can also be done by inviting email contacts, and of course, accepting invites from others.
Degree of Connection
The degree of connection that a user has with another member affects how they interact on the website. Whenever you open your connections on LinkedIn, you will find 1st, 2nd, or 3rd written on the page. Here’s what it means:
A 1st degree connection refers to people who have directly connected with you because you have accepted their invitation to connect or they have accepted your invitation. A 1st degree icon next to their name will pop up in search results and on their profile. Users may contact their 1st degree connections by sending them a message on LinkedIn.
2nd degree connections are people who are connected to your 1st degree connections. You will see a 2nd degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile. It is possible to communicate with them through an In Mail or by sending them an introduction.
Lastly, your 3rd-degree connections are those who are connected to your 2nd-degree connections. You will see a 3rd-degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile. Just like 2nd-degree connections, you may contact them through an In Mail or by sending them an introduction.
If the user’s full first and last names are displayed, you can send them an invitation by clicking Connect.
However, if only the first letter of their last name is displayed, then you cannot simply connect with them as this is not an option. You will have to contact them through an In Mail.
LinkedIn members who fall outside these categories listed above have limited visibility because they are not a part of your network. If the option is available you may still send them an In Mail and introduce yourself.
Lastly, fellow members of your LinkedIn Groups are technically considered part of your network. The Highlights section of a member profile displays the groups that you are both a part of. You can contact them by sending a message on LinkedIn or directly through the group.
The degrees of connection determine how LinkedIn users interact with the people in and out of their network. One of your primary goals should be to expand this network and build more connections by inviting more people, providing value through content, and making real relationships.