Searching for keywords on LinkedIn or Sales Navigator can get tiring, especially if you're looking for something specific.
However, half the struggle could be the fact that we're not using LinkedIn search properly.
In this guide, we take a look at how we can use Linked Boolean search for LinkedIn, Sales Navigator, and Recruiter. And, we'll leverage these skills for more efficient and better sales targeting.
LinkedIn boolean search is using advanced searching techniques to pull more specific results during a search.
It's used just as you would with filters to limit or broaden the exact search string you're looking for.
Now, here's why it's very important.
One of the most powerful features of LinkedIn and Sales Navigator is their search functionality, which allows you to do research, connect with people, and secure new leads.
However, the process can be taxing, even if you have access to advanced filters on LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
You end up having to sift through a lot of results to find the ones that actually matter.
Using Boolean search allows users to be highly targeted with their searches, and this means faster results, less time sorting through unwanted leads, and more efficient work.
If everyone started using Boolean search – on any platform for that matter – we'd probably spend less time sifting through all the noise in our results.
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The principles of Boolean search might seem universal, but not all websites receive the same type of code.
For instance, there are some types of syntax that don't work on LinkedIn Boolean search, but we probably already got used to them on a normal Google search.
The minus "-" sign is a good example, on LinkedIn, you use the "NOT" syntax, but on Google you can get away with "-".
Also, since Google covers more ground, naturally there are features won't be available such as "insite:" or "inurl:".
Putting an asterisk "*" on behalf of a word to perform a wildcard search doesn't work on LinkedIn. So, if you're looking for "Top * Marketers", it won't substitute that asterisk for anything.
Just as our example above, you can't use the minus or the plus sign for your LinkedIn Boolean search. Instead, substitute them for NOT and AND.
Like all growth hacking techniques, they come with a set or rules that you have to follow.
Not all search functions across websites are similar, and LinkedIn has its own quirks that you have to learn.
You can still use filters in your LinkedIn Sales Navigator searches even if you're using Boolean search.
It's not necessarily one thing over the other, you can use them both to create even more targeted results in your searches.
Start with a keyword, add your Boolean search criteria, and then go ahead and add your filters.
You'll also find that using Boolean search with your filters helps with personalization. Say for example you're looking for people in a very specific position in a niche sub sector in an industry, you can just input the terms your ideal customer, and create content solely for them.
The fastest way to get better results on LinkedIn is to use quotes.
Quotes allow you to search for a specific key phrase in the exact order that it is typed down.
When you type down a phrase on LinkedIn it won't just pull out results that match that exact search term. It will also pull out results that contain the separate words in that phrase.
Here's a quick example:
If I were to type down growth hacker on LinkedIn search, it will pull out results that have the word growth hacker, but it won't stop there, as long as a result has the word hacker or growth in it, those will also be pulled up.
Now, if I wanted to limit my search to only results with growth hacker – in that exact order – you would use "growth hacker" with quotation marks.
LinkedIn will not pull up any searches with just growth or hacker in the content being searched.
Pretty neat right?
In fact, this is one Boolean search technique that seems to be universal across multiple platforms.
AND indicates that the search has to bring up a combination of two or more different key phrases or keywords.
It allows you to search for more multiple things at a time and is useful if you're looking for something that match two or more characteristics.
Let's go at it with the growth hacker key phrase example again.
Suppose you are looking for a growth hacker who is also an influencer. You don't want just growth hackers nor do you just want influencers, you want to find people who are a combination of both.
Instead of typing one or the other and trying to figure out if they match both your standards, you can type down:
growth hacker AND infuencer
This will now bring up a list of results that match two or more of the criteria that you put in.
How about if you want to give LinkedIn a choice two or more results that it can give you?
This is where the OR syntax comes in.
You place an OR if you want to receive results that match any of the keywords or phrases that you put in.
Here's an example, if you wanted a digital marketing consultant or a digital marketing expert, and you don't really mind which of the two LinkedIn throws at you, then all you have to do is to put OR in the middle of the search.
So, now your search will look a little something like this.
digital marketing consultant OR digital marketing expert
This function allows you to limit your searches with one or more keywords.
It becomes even more powerful if you combine it with quotation marks, and put everything together.
The NOT function because it specifically tells LinkedIn not to include one or more certain keywords in a search.
This is another limiter that comes in useful if your previous searches keep turning out unwanted results that are just clogging up your results pages.
Here's how we use it.
If you're looking for a growth hacker but it keeps turning up PPC specialists, you can tell LinkedIn to stop showing you results like that.
Here's what you would type:
growth hacker NOT PPC specialist
If that doesn't work, you can string multiple terms that you do not want to see together. Making for tighter and efficient searches on the platform.
Ready to kick it up a notch?
What we discussed earlier works for simple searches or if you're just using a singular operator. If you're running more complex searches, then here are a couple of things that you should keep in mind.
LinkedIn has an order of precedence that you have to follow.
From a logical standpoint, for instance, it will process quotes first before it processes the NOT statement in your search.
It doesn't have any fancy AI that will try and guess what you're thinking, so this is why it's critical to keep this in mind.
Now as your search string gets longer, it becomes unavoidable to have multiple operators under a single search. This is where brackets come in.
Apart from organizing your search in logical order, parenthesis or brackets are what tells the instructions LinkedIn to process in groups or first.
Say you're looking for a growth hacker or growth marketer, but you don't want PPC experts or AdWords specialists to come up
If you were to write down in a string:
Growth Hacker AND Growth Marketer NOT PPC expert OR AdWords Specialist
LinkedIn would pull up a list of growth hackers, growth marketers, and AdWords specialists because it would deal with the NOT logic first - removing the PPC experts, but then it would combine growth hackers or AdWords specialists next.
The most logical or correct way to phrase that instead would be to write it down like this:
Growth Hacker AND Growth Marketer NOT (PPC expert OR AdWords Specialist)
When we ran these exact searches on LinkedIn, the first generated more than 2.7 million hits.
And, after that simple correction, we narrowed the search down to about 3,000 hits.
You can't really go through this many people, but this simple example can show you how wide the disparity is between a good Boolean search versus a bad one.
There is no alternative to a hyper targeted approach, especially when you're doing outreach.
As a growth hacker, you are required to have definite information when you do your searches, and LinkedIn Boolean search is the way to go.
It saves time, it saves you effort, and also, a lot of the frustration of sorting out through a bunch of results that you don't even look at.
Of course, we're not saying that you shouldn't use filters.
Think of LinkedIn advanced searches as a way of adding filters to your filters.