LinkedIn Search – Learn How To Find That Needle In A Haystack

By July 14, 2015 LinkedIn No Comments

As LinkedIn continues to grow and evolve it is becoming ever more important that we are able to find specific groups or segments of people. And that is where LinkedIn “Advanced” search can become your very best friend. This one feature may be one of the most under-utilized tools on LinkedIn and yet it can save you time every single day and improve your productivity with just a few simple clicks.

First of all, let’s talk a little about modifiers which for those that do not have all of the advanced search flexibility that comes with a premium account is very important to understand.

Simply put, “modifiers” help you achieve more targeted search results. And just taking a few minutes to understand and learn how “modifiers” work can save you hours of frustration and can very well be the difference between success and failure on LinkedIn.


Modifying searches in this way is called “Boolean search”. My intention was to start out by showing the definition of Boolean, but since I barely understood the definition myself I wasn’t sure how helpful it would be for the purpose of this article. Suffice it to say when it comes to searching for people in Linkedin it can give you an incredible amount of power and versatility and more importantly, make your life easier…and if you are like me an easier life is good. 🙂

So, in order to perform these “Boolean” searches what do you need to know? Not very much at all….just three words, quotation marks and brackets….AND, OR, NOT, “ ”, ( ) . That’s it. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.


If you want to find search results containing an exact phrase match, use quotes to enclose the phrase. For example, “software engineer” or “communications manager”.

communications manager linkedin search


If you want to find LinkedIn profiles that include separate terms, then use the word AND in CAPITAL letters between both terms when performing the search.

communications manager and marketing linkedin search


If you need to combine the results of two separate search terms, just type OR in all CAPITAL letters between the two search terms. For example,

Bmw vs Mercedes LinkedIn search


Now let’s say you want to exclude search results that contain a specific term. Use the word NOT in CAPITAL letters between the terms you need to exclude from your search results. For example (pepsi OR coca cola) NOT marketing.

pepsi or coca cola not marketing linkedin search


Did you notice how I sneaked in the use of brackets in the previous example? This is where it can get really interesting. You can combine multiple modifiers to get even more specific with your search queries. For example, “marketing AND (vp OR national)”.

linkedin marketing search

For more help with Boolean Search, LinkedIn has put together a tip sheet that you can download. Free PDF tip sheet. (Right-click and select “Save link as”)

  1. So now you have graduated and you are an “awesome ninja” boolean searcher.

Now let’s also take a look at Advanced search to find those all important leads and opportunities that we always need. Remember, one of the keys is to get your search results down to a size that is a manageable number. You have over 350 million potential targets and that is a lot of InMails. 🙂


For the purpose of this article let’s pretend our role is that of regional sales manager and we provide software that helps small retail businesses with their local marketing. So, our goal will be to find those owners of small retail firms within our local geographic area.

I am going to presume that since you are a sales manager and you are using LinkedIn for prospecting you will have a premium account. However, you can still do a considerable amount of filtering with a basic account using the Boolean search we covered earlier.

Take a look at the image below and you will see how we narrowed down our initial search. We selected:

  • Seniority Level – Owner
  • Company Size – 1-10
  • Industry – Retail
  • Location – Canada within 25 miles of our postal code (zip code for our American friends)

This provides us with a manageable list of less than 60. And if we want to narrow it down further we can choose to only view our 2nd connections.

advanced people search on Linkedin

Now what? We have a list so what do we do next?

One thing you might want to do is SAVE this search. The great thing about Saved searches is that LinkedIn will send you new leads by notifying you anytime someone new meets this search criteria.

Linkedin saved search

Next begin reaching out. Visit their profile, perhaps do a little research on their company. Don’t forget to keep an eye on your own profile under “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” to see if they pay you a visit. That could mean they are just curious or they may be interested in your services.

You could ask for a connection or send them an InMail….be polite…be professional and DO NOT try to sell them anything. At this point you are just trying to make contact and begin a relationship. One of the biggest mistakes I see over and over again on LinkedIn is people trying to sell too soon, too hard and too often.

Remember, before people will do business with you they need to KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you. Take your time. Nurture the relationship first.

I hope this helped you appreciate just how powerful the search tools in LinkedIn are and how much they can help you in your prospecting.

If you have some Advanced search features that have helped you then please share them in the comments below so everyone can take advantage of them.

Until next time. Share the love of LinkedIn.


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