What Does 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Mean on LinkedIn?

What does 1st, 2nd, and 3rd mean on linkedin?
Understand the differences between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree connections on LinkedIn and learn how to bypass their limitations.

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How many times have you scrolled through LinkedIn and seen these numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd) beside someone’s username?

Did you ever stop and think about what they mean?

Like any networking platform, LinkedIn has its own rules for how users can interact with one another and who they can connect with.

In this guide, we are diving deep into what 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree connections mean on LinkedIn and how you can manage them.

What Are Connection Levels On LinkedIn?

Connection levels refer to the various tiers LinkedIn uses to determine the strength of your professional relationships or simply how close you are to a particular user.

They are commonly referred to as degrees of connection.

LinkedIn has 4 different connection tiers/degrees:

  • 1st Degree
  • 2nd Degree
  • 3rd Degree
  • Out of network

As LinkedIn is a network you can think of these degrees as a web of who is connected with who and how many degrees of separation there are between you and another person.

Illustrated relationship between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree connections on linkedin

Understanding different degrees of connection is important for navigating LinkedIn and how you can reach someone and expand your network.

Let’s explore the difference between every connection tier. 

What Does 1st-Degree Connection Mean On LinkedIn?

Your 1st-degree connections are users you have a direct connection with meaning that you are both a part of each other’s network.

These connections are recognizable by the “1st” icon beside their name.

Whenever you accept a connection invite or your invite is accepted you become 1st-degree connections.

This allows you to contact them directly through your inbox and you gain access to their “contact info.”

Note that you can have up to 30,000 1st-degree connections.

These connections open you up to new opportunities and widen the reach of your network.

What Does 2nd-Degree Connection Mean On LinkedIn?

2nd-degree connections are users that aren’t directly connected with you, but they are connected with someone in your 1st-degree network.

Simply put, they are connections of your connections recognized by the “2nd” beside their name.

While visiting their profile, you can see the mutual connections you share with them.

As you aren’t connected with these users, you can’t directly message them or see their information in detail.

Since you already have connections in common, you can send these users connection requests after which you can start conversations with them.

The only other way of contacting users outside of your network is through the use of InMail messages.

What Does 3rd-Degree Connection Mean On LinkedIn?

3rd-degree connections are users that are connected with your 2nd-degree connections and aren’t directly connected with you.

This means you don’t have direct mutual connections with them as they are far from your immediate network.

Like with 2nd-degree connections, you can’t directly message 3rd-degree connections, nor can you see their detailed information and you can only reach them by sending them a connection request or an InMail.

They complete LinkedIn’s connection level chain, but there’s one more group.

What Are “Out Of Network” Users?

Out-of-network or “other” are LinkedIn users that aren’t connected with any one of your 2nd, or 3rd-degree connections.

They are far away from your networking circle and you can identify them by their name being “LinkedIn Member.”

Linkedin member

These users give you limited access to their information and sometimes LinkedIn doesn’t even allow you to visit their profile or see any details.

To reach them, you need to expand your network until they become your 3rd-degree connections after which you can send them a connection request.

50 LinkedIn Message Templates

Let’s recap all 4 connection levels:

  • 1st-degree connections – Users you are connected with.
  • 2nd-degree connections – Users you aren’t connected with but have a mutual connection.
  • 3rd-degree connection – Users you aren’t connected with, but someone in your 2nd-degree network is connected with them.
  • Out-of-Network users – Users that are outside of your 3 connection levels.

As you can see there are many types of users to keep track of if you want to network successfully, but you are presented with many limitations.

Here’s how you can work around them and get more value out of LinkedIn.

How To Bypass LinkedIn’s Limitations And Go Beyond Your 1st-Degree Network

LinkedIn only lets you directly interact with 1st-degree connections, but there are many opportunities outside your network you want to pursue.

How many times have you noticed a 2nd, or 3rd-degree connection that would be a great lead, candidate, or investor… and you wanted to keep track of them?

With the LeadDelta Sidebar keep track of users you aren’t connected with.

Here’s how:

While on a LinkedIn User’s profile, the Sidebar will pop up in the right corner.

LeadDelta sidebar used on 1st-degree connection's profile

If you are directly connected with the user (1st-degree connection) you will get a view of all of their information with the ability to Tag them or leave Notes.

But if they are outside of your network (2nd, 3rd-degree, and beyond) you can import them into LeadDelta by clicking “Add to LeadDelta”.

Adding 2nd and 3rd degree connections to leaddelta

By adding them to LeadDelta you will get access to their information without needing to be directly connected with them along with more data LinkedIn doesn’t provide you with.

But the best part is that you can organize these users the way you want.

In the Sidebar, you can add custom Tags (labels) to users for better organization or leave Notes about what you found interesting or why you added them to LeadDelta.

To get an even better view of your network head on to the “Connections Tab” where all of your LinkedIn users are stored.

leaddelta connection manager

Note that these users will be marked as “New Connection” once they become your 1st-degree connection.

With Sidebar and LeadDelta’s network management capabilities, you can always find who you need and extract value from your network.

Why You Should Track Users Outside Of Your Network

You might want to import a user into LeadDelta and keep tabs on them for many reasons.

Some of them include:

  • You want to connect with the user in the future as now isn’t the right time
  • Creating lists of potential leads, recruits, and partners… that you can export
  • Share networking opportunities with your whole team through Workspaces 
  • Discover information about users without connecting with them
  • Go past the 30,000 connection limit 
  • Expand your network’s reach with a pool of users you can tap into
  • Keep track of connections that disconnected you on LinkedIn

And many more situations you might want to manage users outside your network.

How To Find 2nd and 3rd Degree Connections On LinkedIn?

You will need to find new users to connect with or add to your LeadDelta to expand your networking opportunities.

There are 3 great ways to find new users you have something in common with or you want to pursue based on your networking goals.

Find New Connections In The LinkedIn Feed

You probably spend a lot of time scrolling LinkedIn looking through great content posted by users.

The LinkedIn algorithm shows you posts from people you engage with and people they engage with.

Most of the time you have things in common with these people and they are worth getting into contact with.

Since they are your 2nd and 3rd-degree connections you can easily connect with them and refer to their post you enjoyed or ask your mutual connection to make an introduction.

Connect With Professionals On LinkedIn Company Pages

Company pages aren’t only brands, they are filled with people you can connect with that you probably don’t even know.

Is it a company you like, are you interested in connecting with similar professionals, or are you looking for specific employees (ex. decision makers)?

While on a company page, you can check the Sidebar for all employees, add them to LeadDelta with a single click, and check who you are already connected with.

leaddelta sidebar used on company pages

After this, you can keep them in LeadDelta for later or decide to connect based on the information displayed.

Get Warm Introductions Through Your Team’s Network

If your team is using LeadDelta Wokspaces you can see everyone’s connections in one database.

Even further, you can see who on your team is connected to which connection and Filter for mutual connections.

leaddelta workspaces mutual connections

If you find and interesting users outside your network you can easily Notify your teammate through Notes that you wish to connect.

They can provide a warm introduction making your conversation start on a high note.


Most people ignore the degrees of their network and miss out on numerous growth opportunities.

By differentiating the different levels of LinkedIn relationships you can get insight into who you should connect with.

LeadDelta makes it easy for you to manage connections outside of your direct network with a focus on long-term relationships and opportunities.

Take the first step towards unlocking your network's full potential. Try LeadDelta for free.