LinkedIn connections and connection levels are as old as LinkedIn itself. The underlying idea of the Social Network is based on connections!
You would think that LinkedIn (founded in 2002) has figured out the search for connection levels by now. But if you trust connection search – for example, routinely search for the second level members to connect with – you are up for disappointment: connection search has multiple issues. Here is a summary; these things (or rather, bugs) are good to keep in mind.
A. Search for each connection level vs. no level selection is not the same
You might think selecting each connection level – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd – will provide the same results as selecting no levels. (Based on the definitions, you are right.) But it is not so: compare everyone with everyone with connections levels. The latter search misses about 1% of profiles – and not necessarily out of your network.
B. Some members are not found by connection level search
This is a screenshot showing a result – a legitimate 2nd connection – which disappears when any (or all) connection levels are selected. The search depends on something about the member that matches the search and the person who searches (that contributes to the hiding effect).
That might explain why selecting connection levels results in a smaller number of profiles.
C. Third and out-of-network search returns second connections
I am sure you have experienced that. The “top” results of the third+ connections search are mostly second connections for me (ones with whom I have connections in common), not the third.
D. Some 3rd level connections are displayed as the second
But there are no common connections:
E. Some 2nd level connections are displayed as third
I invite you to find an example for this one 🙂
What about the first-level connections? Something is going on there as well.
F. Connection numbers discrepancy
It helps to verify our assumptions in sourcing!
P.S. Check out our latest sourcing wisdom about LinkedIn in the LinkedIn Solved class recording.