What do 1st, 2nd and 3rd connections mean on LinkedIn?

content marketing linkedin

You may think LinkedIn is just like any other social network.

Whilst you can post content and do many of the same things as other social media channels, LinkedIn has a quirk around it's 'connecting' which divides contacts up into different groups.

There are three levels of connection on LinkedIn, 1st, 2nd and 3rd - technically there is forth which is out of network. But in the short article we'll cover the three levels.

Unlike other social media channels, LinkedIn classifies connections by degree. 

LinkedIn launched the degrees of connection to help people find people they know more easily. I'll break this down into an easy explainer.

1st Degree Connection

You are 'friends' you've subscribed to each others feed and you can DM back and forth. You should grow your network with your ideal clients and those who work with them.

2nd Degree Connection

Friends of Friends - You have no connections in common. The acceptance rate of sending connection request to these people is higher. You can't DM without being a connection, you'll need to InMail.

3rd Degree Connection

No connections in common - Connection acceptance rate is much lower if you have never met or communicated with this person before. You can't DM without being a connection, you'll need to InMail.

*Warning* — there is some evidence cold connecting to 3rd Degree connections can result in restrictions more quickly than cold connecting with 2nd Degrees.


The Secret to Growing your LinkedIn network quickly

Here is the important part. As you grow your first degree network, your 2nd degree network expands as does your 3rd Degree. 

Let me give you an example.

Dean has 29,999 connections (the maximum on LinkedIn). 

John has no connections.

John sends a connection request to Dean.

Dean accepts.

John now has one 1st Degree connection.

Dean now has 30,000 1st degree connections.

But importantly, John has also grown his 2nd degree network by 29,999 people as Dean's 1st degree connections become John's 2nd degree.

If you are looking to expand your network rapidly there is a benefit to adding people who have a large network to help you get to your Ideal clients as 2nd Degree connections.

Adding a few people with large networks can open up your LinkedIn network more quickly and give you more reach with your content.

If you want to grow your network and get more visibility of your content, you need to focus on having a large 2nd degree network too, this will help you grow your 1st degree network faster.

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