Finding the right people: LinkedIn Advanced Searches

LinkedIn is great for showing your professional profile but also for finding people and in this blog, we’ll have a look at the advanced search options that the platform offers.

Besides people and their companies it also allows to search for content, groups, jobs, and schools but those are not used that much.

Let’s start with a screenshot of what it would look like right after you’ve done an ‘empty search’ (basically clicking the search bar and pressing enter). On the left you’ll see the search bar and options to look for people or companies and on the right you’ll find ‘All filters’ which is where you want to go. These filters can help you narrow down your search easily and effectively.

So, the options that you have at your disposal are:

  • Connections – 1st, 2nd & 3rd degree network

  • Connections of – a certain person you might have in mind

  • Locations – Cities, Countries

  • Current companies – where a person currently is employed

  • Past companies – where a person has been employed in the past

  • Industries – the industries a person is active in

  • School – educational institutes a person has attended

  • First name and Last name

  • Title – job function a person currently carries or has carried

Questions: Which ones do you use? And how do you use them?


Connections (of)

LinkedIn differentiates between 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections. Simply put:

You know Bob (first degree), Bob knows Claire but you do not (second degree), and in turn Claire will know people both you and Bob don’t know (third degree).

In your searches for new business development, you will probably be making use of your 2nd degree network and here is why.

The people in your first-degree network should already be familiar with you so there is little chance of being successful in this pool. Obviously, this is also always the smallest amount of people that will show up in your search and we don’t want to limit ourselves too much. In your third-degree network you will find many hits but most likely too many. Think about it. If a person has 500 connections that person has 500 x 500 people in the 2nd and 500 x 500 x 500 in the 3rd degree network; that might be considered overly ambitious.

In addition, your 2nd degree network offers the advantage that you have a common acquaintance. You can even go as far as to ask for an introduction if a prospect looks exceptionally promising.

If you have the feeling that one of your connections has a relevant network for you, you can also use the ‘connection of’ filter option to look into that specifically.



Not a whole lot to explain about this one I suppose.

  • If you’re planning on conquering the world leave it blank.

  • If you’re targeting local markets you can define area (up to a city level).

  • If you want to know how many CEOs France has, select France (it’s 44,416 if you’re curious)

Keep in mind that you can also select multiple areas, which comes in handy when you’ve divided sections amongst your BD and sales champs. For instance, BeNeLux, DACH (German speaking countries), Nordics and so on.


Current and past companies

Not exactly the most helpful option for BD purposes unless there is a specific company that you feel should be targeted… Really, I am at a loss for this one.



With LinkedIn searches you’ll be using the Titles filter a lot (we’ll come to that later) and you’ll notice that when you try to look for Quality Manager, for instance, you’ll get a lot of results. That’s partly because, let’s say, Pfizer has quality managers but so does Toyota; completely different. So, be sure to search in the right industries. For life sciences this usually means Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology, Medical Devices, and Hospital & Healthcare.

Note: this filter gives a list of available options you can select when you start typing and doesn’t allow for ‘free text’.



Really great option if you’re organizing an alumni reunion. Otherwise, not so much.


First name & Last name

Congratulations! You already knew exactly whom you were trying to find.



This one is great. Really great. It allows you to search for very specific audiences by using something called Boolean Searching. Just like Google, LinkedIn makes use of the Boolean Search method search formulas shown below.



AND or + (Limit search to this combination)

OR (Broaden search to)

NOT or - (Do not show results containing)

* (Show results beginning with)

() (Combine included operators)

“…“ (Find this exact sequence)

Using this method makes it easy to search for people who have a certain title but also its alternatives and/or different levels of seniority in similar departmens. Sometimes there are different terms used across companies for what’s actually the same job.

Example search: (Operational OR Quality) AND (Head OR Director OR Manager)

If you need some help on this one send me a quick message and I’ll show you on-screen!


Combine combine combine.

Chances are that you’ll get the best results by using several of these option, but in my opinion definitely use:

Location, Industry, and Title and search in your 2nd degree network.


Saving your searches

Alas. Currently unavailable but if LinkedIn decides to turn this option back on for ‘free’ users I’ll add it again.