Think when you search on LinkedIn …
or better still, think before you search

LinkedIn SearchNo matter why we are on LinkedIn, using the search functionality effectively is always going to be hugely important. It can save us hours by ensuring that we target those who are going to fit our criteria and near as possible and allow us to focus in on quickly and with greater clarity on whom we want to talk to.

In many ways, it really doesn’t matter whether you are prospecting for new clients and business, identifying new partners or suppliers, using LinkedIn to identify potential candidates for a role you are looking to fill or identifying potential company contacts as a job seeker … in each of these cases, the more effectively we search, the greater our chances of success are.

This is all particularly true with the search options on the new 2017 interface – most of the functionality that we need is still in there but so many people people that because the ‘advanced search’ link has disappeared that you can no longer do complex searches on the free account. Not true! All the searches below are from the free account.

Anyway, before you start to search, take a step back …

… think …

… decide whom you are really looking for …

… what position they might hold or what skills they might possess …

… how might they present these elements themselves …

… then start to search.

The greater the number of “right people” that we can establish a first pool of people who fit our search criteria the better it will be for us and allow us to apply the more targeted criteria to a better set of possible targets.

A working example

I was working with a company that wanted to target independent providers of financial services because their product was ideally suited to their requirements. So we started with the generic terms of IFA and Independent Financial Adviser and used those as our start point.

Using LinkedIn’s search tool and just focusing on the UK as our geographic area, that gave us results of:

IFA – 2264
Independent Financial Adviser – 3118

Because there were a number who put both – logically if they have built their profile to get found – a search combining both in a boolean phrase came out with:

IFA OR “independent financial adviser” – 5097.

A good start point but can we take it further?

What else might they call themselves?

We’ve been quite specific about our start point for our search but now we need to widen it a little, not into any old areas but ones which will still give us right type of people that we may want to talk to. Essentially, we need to put ourselves in their shoes and try to guess how they would describe themselves or how the company that they work for would. We can then start to build those into our search as well.

One way of achieving this is to use the profiles that you have already found and who look to be the right sort of people. Take a couple of the people who came at the top of the results and look at their profiles. LinkedIn highlights the words that you have searched for in yellow which is great – now take a look at the words next to them, particularly in the Job Title which is what we are looking for here. These should give you additional ideas for different job descriptions which you can build into your search to extend it.

A few that immediately came up when I did this were:

  • Financial Planner
  • Wealth Manager
  • Wealth Planner
  • Retirement Planner
  • Chartered Financial Planner
  • Independent Financial Planner
  • Certified Financial Planner
  • Financial Planning consultant

So take these include them in your search, run it again and repeat the process.

Other areas that you could also apply might include the Professional bodies that they belong to or the qualifications that they have gained from them. Building these in should still highlight additional people who have used a more generic job title that other searches haven’t picked up.

In this way you should be able to build up a comprehensive list of people in the right space – the pool of people if you like – to which you can then apply your other criteria.

What about alternative spellings?

A next logical step would be to think around the phrases that we have already have identified and see whether there are potential differences in the ways that people spell them. With this in mind I added in advisor (spelt with an ‘o’ rather than an ‘e’) and this gave:

Independent Financial Advisor – 992

Taking this one stage further, I know from working with my son that ‘independent’ is a word that can often caused issues, so I added in a misspelling of that using an ‘a’ which gave me :

Independant Financial Adviser – 265
Independant Financial Advisor – 66

Just for reference: I have also found people using “finanical”, “finanicial”, “finanacial” and “financail” and so you could build those into your equation as well if you wanted to.

What is the result of all this?

Our goal in all this is not to put ourselves through the wringer to see what is the most complicated search we can come up with – that is not the challenge! The goals is to get the most comprehensive and yet targeted set of people possible who we would like to contact and ultimately do business with. This will then allow us to subdivide them by location or industry or other criteria and so approach them with the right information in the most appropriate way.

In our initial search, we came up with a total of 5097 results – when we add in the misspellings, that increase the results to 6328, already nearly 1000 higher than our original search. If we now add in the other job titles and ways that people describe what they do then this brings us to the much higher level of 15,385, nearly 3 times the original results!

That means if we had stuck with our original search then we would have missed out on nearly 10,000 opportunities.

Final Tip: You’ve put in a lot of work into your search so now let it work for you. Save the search as a search alert – this means that you can come back and add to it or refine it later (which is good) but it also means that it will automatically run on a weekly basis and LinkedIn will send you by email the names and profile links of all the new people who fit those criteria. New leads every week!

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