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JP commented to me about searching – he said he’d like to start with a broad pool and narrow the results to get exactly what he wanted.

And he can – he just didn’t know how!-)

I’ll explain…

Get familiar with “Advanced Search”

You’ll find the search block at the top of every page on LinkedIn, but don’t use that – take a few more moments and select “Advanced Search” to the left of it.

The advanced search screen gives you a large selection of search criteria – criteria that you can use to filter a large pool of results into a tight group that includes exactly what you’re looking for.

Start Broad

Take the one or two high level pieces of criteria that you know have to be true and enter them.

If geography is important, that’s an easy one. “They have to be located near this zip code” or “They have to be in the US” are easy.

Often a specific keyword, company name, or industry is also a must have.

Press the search button – what do the early results look like?

Under represented segments

In some cases, the search may turn up only a handful of individuals.

You can’t do much about that – and so have to consider a new strategy, or relax your criteria. (Instead of reaching the specific person or type of person that you’d like, you try to reach someone who can help you reach the specific person)

In reviewing the results, you may find it easy simply to scan them for specific matches. Otherwise, you will want to filter more.

Bushels of hits

For free accounts, 500 in-network and 20 out-of-network results are the limit. If you see those numbers on the search result, you know you’ll have to filter more.

Refine the search – add criteria

At the top of your “Search Results” page, you’ll find a button “refine search results”.

Press that and the window will open up to reveal the current search criteria – all you have to do is add more specific search criteria.

If your search found 500 results for individuals with the title “Software Developer”, add “Java” as a keyword for the next layer of detail. If that still includes too many people, narrow the location to those living near you.

I happen to be connected to 500+ people that include “software developer” in their current title, and 500+ of them also mention “java” somewhere in their profile. Only 14 live within 50 miles of my zip code…

Try different combinations

If a certain restriction takes the result pool from too-large all the way to too-small, try a slight change. Instead of requiring the current title to include the phrase “CIO”, allow it in any title (uncheck the “current titles only” box).

After some experience, you’ll find patterns for criteria give you the best results.

Keep an open mind

It’s not possible to list every combination of search criteria you may want to use here, so when you get into “search” mode, try things out – think up “what if” cases and just test them out.

Have you found a good combination that you’d like to share here? I’d lover to hear what works well for you.

steve