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FoxBound Blog

3rd Degree LinkedIn Connections Disabled in Regular Accounts

Zach Sergio, Co-Founder

Zach Sergio, Co-Founder

Are you a regular LinkedIn user? Here's what you need to know about updates to the 3rd degree connection search.

FoxBound Blog

October 8th, 2019

3rd Degree LinkedIn Connections Disabled in Regular Accounts

Surprisingly, there’s been little to no coverage or backlash on the removal of 3rd degree LinkedIn connection search in standard filtering capabilities. If you haven’t seen yet, the world’s leading professional networking site has locked down users from searching and viewing profiles outside of 1st and 2nd degrees. 

Baby Pope Leo X was one of the first to notice after logging into his account. Here’s his reaction as captured by Fernando Botero.

3rd degree linkedin connections
3rd degree linkedin connections

Alan Grant took the news a little harder than most. He’s a regular LinkedIn user that’s still a little shaken up by the news. We don’t blame him. 

In all seriousness, it’s not clear if all users are affected by the latest change. We’ve received a number of queries from our (much loved) customer base on the topic and I’m sure many others are looking for answers. Here’s what we can address: 

  • What are 3rd degree LinkedIn connections?
  • Why was this change made? 
  • Where are you going to see this change?
  • How does this impact me?
  • What are my options?

What are 3rd degree LinkedIn connections?

This is a good starting point to make sure we’re on the same page. Here’s a quick breakdown of what 1st, 2nd, and 3rd connections are as stated by Onkar Gurav from a post a few years back:

1st-degree LinkedIn connections – People you’re directly connected to because you have accepted their invitation to connect, or they have accepted your invitation. You’ll see a 1st degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile. You can contact them by sending a message on LinkedIn.

2nd-degree LinkedIn connections – People who are connected to your 1st-degree connections. You’ll see a 2nd degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile. You can contact them through an In Mail or an introduction.

3rd-degree LinkedIn connections – People who are connected to your 2nd-degree connections. You’ll see a 3rd degree icon next to their name in search results and on their profile. You can contact them through an In Mail or an introduction.

Up until recently, regular users could view pages that included the 3rd degree Linkedin connections. Now, it’s disabled and I’m prompted to find additional results in Sales Navigator. Historically, the non-Premium LinkedIn accounts allowed for standard search queries to be performed. Granted, you weren’t able to see as many pages, profiles, or datapoints as your Premium counterparts. 

Now, it’s zero.. 

3rd degree linkedin connections

Why was this change made?

Let me start by saying that we at FoxBound strongly advocate the usage of LinkedIn as a sales professional. It’s critical for networking, making connections, and reaching opportunity that would otherwise be out of reach. We ourselves leverage Sales Navigator on a daily basis and will likely continue to do so for the rest of our careers.

While we view it as a “cost of doing business” as many view investments in CRM’s such as Salesforce.com, this isn’t a viewpoint shared by a majority. 

In speculation, it’s likely as part of a push by LinkedIn to monetize its user base. This isn’t exactly surprising considering Microsoft bought the network for $26.2 BILLION DOLLARS back in 2017

I’d imagine that maybe, just maybe, Microsoft wants to make some of that money back.. Again, speculation here by yours truly! 

The takeaway is that if you want to effectively leverage the world’s most complete database as a salesperson, you have to pay up. 

If you’re a B2B sales professional, it’s worth the stickershock (you’re welcome, LinkedIn).

How much is this going to cost me to upgrade?

If you do a Google search of LinkedIn pricing, you’ll see plenty of results for what now seem to be outdated posts on, “LinkedIn Pricing Plans Compared.” From the looks of it, many of these plans started as low as $29.99 a month. 

Unfortunately, it seems as LinkedIn pricing pages for the old are locked down or simply no longer available. Or, they at least aren’t showing the price-points for profiles currently on a Sales Navigator subscription. The links on this page are nonetheless outdated and now lead me through an upsell funnel (sigh) https://www.linkedin.com/premium/products?family=jss&upsellOrderOrigin=help_answer_71. 

Here’s a few screen-grabs of comparisons for Sales Navigator and Recruiter (and please, don’t shoot the messenger):

3rd degree linkedin connections

My account is billed annually so it receives an ever-so-generous discount of ~19% (comes out to $780 + remitted sales tax vs $960 when billed monthly. In other words, it’s $65 a month instead of $80. But that’s just for a professional account. For a team account, the price skyrockets. This is now the price you pay for being able to search for 3rd degree LinkedIn connections. 

Unless your team has big budgets to burn or if you really are a true power-user of LinkedIn, a professional account does the trick for prospecting activities.  

For our friends in recruiting, I really don’t have as much input.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Where are you going to see this change?

In a regular LinkedIn.com view, you’ll notice this change is in effect for any search query or filter where 3rd-degree LinkedIn connections were previously available. 

How does this impact me?

It means you have a decision to make. As a business or rep, you now have to ask yourself if blocked access to 3rd degree LinkedIn connections is going to block you from thousands of dollars in pipeline. 

If it does, then you may want to upgrade if you haven’t already. (Psst take a look at FoxBound to make that investment more worthwhile🔌🦊)

On the other hand, if you’ve enjoyed limited free access here & there, but aren’t selling to a market with significant LinkedIn presence – it might not be worth the charge. 

From a sales perspective, LinkedIn is disqualifying lower-spending/higher-churn users knowing that there’s little price sensitivity to their Premium offering. It’s hard to blame the tactic & I’m sure LinkedIn stakeholders don’t mind either. 

It’s LinkedIn’s *cough* Microsoft’s *cough* world, and we’re just living in it.

What are my options?

Assuming you’re not on a Premium plan, try a Sales Nav trial first. We cover all kinds of ways to maximize LinkedIn in our Outbound Prospecting Guide.

Oh, and one more fun fact, Microsoft’s fiscal year starts on July 1. Maybe try working with the sales team around end of quarter  and see if the LinkedIn gods smile upon you 🙂

I hope this helps give you some context and answers around 3rd degree LinkedIn connections! Do you have any more questions or feedback on this? Feel free to reach me at zach@foxbound.io or ping our team at marketing@foxbound.io. 

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