How To: Use Advanced People Search on LinkedIn

Posted by Pat Henseler in LinkedIn Marketing Insights

If you’re a B2B business, it’s never been easier find new clients, connect with them, and engage with them, thanks to online platforms like LinkedIn. And with millions of active business owners at your fingertips, LinkedIn is a business owner’s dream come true!

Today, we’re going to get tactical and answer a BIG question we hear a lot…

“How do I find my best prospects on LinkedIn?”

Here’s the quick answer: We utilize LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search. But before we dive into the HOW, we need to talk about why…

Why use Advanced Search to build targeted connections on LinkedIn?

Building a database full of your BEST prospects is your primary objective because once connected, you can build a relationship with them through strategic messaging and email campaigns.

Now, besides building a database of targeted connections and prospects, another use for the search function is simply to get a general idea of how many people could be potential prospects. We use this as a litmus test to see whether or not LinkedIn is even a viable platform to focus on – and *hint hint*99% of the time, it most definitely is.

It’s also important to note that *NOT* everyone that comes up in the search results will be a great fit… but if you get 70% of results to be a good fit of what your ideal client looks like, you’ll be on the right path.

How to use Advanced People Search to Build Your Connections on LinkedIn

First, any marketing endeavor starts with knowing WHO your prospect is; you need to know who they are, what they value, and what they want to be able to connect with them, build rapport with them, and more importantly, sell to them.

Start by looking at your current and past clients.

Make a short list of the industries they are in?

What are the job titles of the individuals you sold your product or service to?

Where are they located? Do you work locally? Nationally? Internationally?

Second, utilizing the search functionality is the best way to ensure you are connecting and reaching out to your best prospects, the ones who will actually make a difference and move the needle forward in your business.

This is done in a variety of ways. Let’s dive in!

Utilizing Filters

The ability to do advanced searches and target very specific people is one of LinkedIn’s biggest strengths.

STEP ONE – Use the Basic Search Bar on the Homescreen.

Step one is simply accessing the Search bar on the homepage of your LinkedIn account. Type the title of the person or the name of the industry you want to target.

Now here is where you can put the litmus test to work to see if LinkedIn is right for you. In this case, I think you’ll have plenty of prospects.

And if you try it out, you’ll be surprised how many people you’ll be able to target in nearly every industry, from the bigger ones like construction and health care, to more niche topics like cooking. Try it out and see for yourself.

Here we typed “Marketing Manager” and came up with over 5 million search results! Plenty of prospects, but that’s just unmanageable. Now it’s time to apply the first filter and narrow it down a little.

STEP TWO – Apply Your First Filter – “PEOPLE”

After you type your query, you’ll want to apply a filter, in this case, click the “People” option. You can click another option, but when you’re looking for individual prospects, “People” is what you want.

Three ways to filter using the “People” Option:

  1. When you click on the search bar, before you type, you can pick “People” filter from the dropdown list and then type your query in the search box.

  2. You can type your query and then click the search bar, where a drop-down menu will open up.

  3. Or, if you typed and already hit enter, you’ll see this screen:

Just click on “People” and you’ll exclude any search results that aren’t specific people, like companies or job openings. (And, by the way, this is also where you’ll apply any other filters you want.)

Moving on…

STEP THREE – Let’s Go Filter Crazy

Now, let’s say you wanted to target Marketing Managers in your local area, but they have to work for a specific company, you could click on any of the options in the easy drop-down menus in what we’ll call the “Filter Bar” (outlined in red below…)


You can access the SAME filters and more when you click on “All Filters” here…

It’ll take you to this page:

As you can see, you have plenty of filters here to choose from, including:

  1. Connections (1st, 2nd, 3rd) – most all your searches will be 2nd & 3rd connections.
  2. First Name, Last Name, Company, School
  3. Title
  4. Locations
  5. Current Companies (by name)
  6. Past Companies (by name)
  7. Industries
  8. And even non-profit interests

Here, you’ll want to apply the searches that make sense for you based on your “Prospect Profiles” and when you’re ready to search, just hit the blue “APPLY” button at the top of the page to apply your filters. And there you have it!

Now you have access to a list of very targeted, highly qualified prospects at your fingertips!

AND… after you create a targeted list of prospects, you need to know how to connect with them and stay top of mind, so that when they’re ready for your services, YOU become the go-to provider in your industry.

Learn how in our free training, the LinkedIn Advanced Masterclass. Click here to register now.

Filter Advice:

When utilizing LinkedIn’s search filters, you don’t need to attempt to fill in every last detail.

Title, location and industry are the 3 most widely utilized search filters in our client campaigns. You might need to use all three of those filters OR you might need just one of them to get to your prospects.

Again, it all depends on who specifically you are looking to target.


A quick note here… LinkedIn Search does offer some shortcuts, allowing you to filter your results without having to return to the “All Filters” page.

You can do this in the search bar with a mix of Search Operators and Boolean Commands.

As listed on their Help page, LinkedIn currently supports five Search Operators:

  1. firstname – Finds members based on first name
  2. lastname – Finds members based on last name
  3. title – Finds members based on their current job title
  4. company – Finds members based on their current company (keyword search)
  5. school – Finds members based on schools attended (keyword search)

And to use them in the search bar, you simply type the search operator followed by a colon, and then your search query in quotes. For example:

Combine that with Boolean Search Commands and you can include most of your filters right in the Search Bar, and save some time without going to any other pages.

Here is what LinkedIn says about the Boolean search commands they support:

  • Exact Phrase? – Use Quoted searches – For an exact phrase, enclose the phrase in quotation marks. For example: type “product manager”. You can also use quotation marks if you want to find someone with a multi-word title.
    • LinkedIn search only supports standard quotation marks. Other software or websites may use special symbols that our system does not recognize.
    • In order to optimize overall site performance, stop words such as “by”, “in”, “with”, etc. aren't used.
  • This NOT That? – Use NOT searches – To exclude a particular term, type that term with an uppercase NOT immediately before it. For example, type: programmer NOT manager. This will give you programmers and exclude any managers.
  • This OR That? – Use OR searches – To see results that include one or more terms in a list, separate the terms with an uppercase OR. For example, type “sales OR marketing”. This way, you’ll get people who are in sales or marketing.
  • This AND That? – Use AND searches – (but you don’t really need to, see the note below)To get results that include two or more terms in a list, you can use the uppercase word AND as a separator. For example, type: manager AND director.
    • Note: You don't need to use AND. If you search 2 or more terms, you'll automatically see results that include all of them.
  • Need a more complex search? – Use Parenthetical searches – To do a complex search, you can combine terms using parentheses. For example, to find people who have “VP” in their profiles, but you want to exclude “assistant to VP” or SVPs, type VP NOT (assistant OR SVP)

And, remember, it’s like algebra! There is an order of operations, so when handling searches, the overall order to precedence is:

  2. Parentheses [()]
  3. NOT
  4. AND
  5. OR

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Finally, you need to know that the “All Filters” page doesn’t include all the search filters available. To access these additional search filters, you’ll need to be purchase LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator account.

The Advanced filters included in the Sales Navigator tool are:

    1. Company Size – This gives you the ability to search for small business owners, to large multinational corporations, depending on their size. 1-10 employees to 10,000+
    2. Years of Experience – search by how much experience people have in a certain position or business.
    3. Function – This allows you to search by what function or role your prospect plays in their job—whether it's administrative, business development, or marketing.
    4. Seniority Level – Search by CEO, intern, and everything in between. Between this and the Function filter, you can get really specific search results.
    5. Groups – You can target prospects based on specific LinkedIn groups they are a member of. Looking for Fitness and Health Professionals in Chicago? There are 3 groups specific for that audience. And with this filter you can view each member.
    6. Interested In – Not like Facebook interests, here you can find prospects interested in new opportunities, or looking for contractors, etc…

That’s A Wrap!

Now you not only have a powerful search tool to find and target your best prospects using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search, but you also know how to use it. Between the filters and the search commands, you’ll be able to find targeted prospects and build a database of prime connections for your business, all without paying a penny.

If you are looking to add more power to your search results, you can learn more about the LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool, but I encourage you to try the basic LinkedIn search first. Have fun, experiment, and put different filters together to find prospects who will be the best fit for your business.

What About The Next Steps?

The next steps will have to come down you.

How valuable is your online prospecting for your business?

Don’t know? To understand the in’s and out’s of LinkedIn to make sure you you are able to utilize it to generate more leads and clients, be sure to check out our next workshop below: