You may have heard the phrase Boolean Search being used by those in the know when it comes to searching on LinkedIn. In this article, I’m going to take you through my Beginner’s Guide to Using Boolean search on LinkedIn.
I talked about the 4 elements of your LinkedIn Social Selling Index in my article ‘A Quick Guide to Your Social Selling Index (SSI)’ – Establishing your Professional Brand, Finding the Right People, Engaging with Insights, and Building Relationships
In this article, I’m going to focus on Finding the Right People, and in particular, a smart tool called Boolean Search, which can help you to specifically locate your ideal client.
Boolean Search allows you to target people more effectively, improving your SSI score, as LinkedIn sees you connecting and networking with the right people. More importantly, it will save you from wasting valuable time and resources sifting through irrelevant search results.
What is Boolean Search?
But what is a Boolean Search? Sounds complicated!
In simple terms, it’s a targeted way of filtering out unwanted search results, which can be used as a tool to help you find prospects.
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book when you want a very specific answer from an online search query, and something I’ve used for many years. I’ll show you how to make sure you get the best results from this kind of search, as it does pay to know how to use it correctly.
The ease of use of this function really cannot be overstated either. You can ensure each search result includes or excludes certain words, meaning that you can pinpoint who you wish to target and who you wish to avoid, saving you from wasting valuable time and effort on the profiles of individuals who are not key decision-makers or in your target market.
The Main Functions Used in Boolean Searches
There are five main functions used in Boolean Search which I’m going to take you through to demonstrate how you can carry out searches that are much more refined and specific to your professional needs:
Let’s look at each one in turn.
1. Using Speech Marks
Let’s say you want to find property developers. A simple search for the words property developer will bring back results including both ‘property’ and ‘developer’, even if the two words are not together, meaning you have to work your way through a lot of unwanted results.
The easiest way around this is to use speech marks as part of a Boolean Search, to return results containing the exact phrase within the speech marks.
So in this example, all you have to do is use a search which includes
using speech marks. This way, your search results will only return those profiles containing that exact same phrase. This will give a more targeted search result and eliminate unnecessary elements from the search parameters.
You might already do this when searching for specific phrases on Google without realising that you’re using a Boolean Search. See, I told you it was easy!
2. Using the ‘AND’ Function
As an alternative, you can use the word AND (in capital letters) to see results that include all items in a list. This is particularly helpful when you want to look for results that include 2 or more specific words, but they might not appear as an exact phrase.
By using a search which contains:
property AND developer
your results will include results that contain both words, but not necessarily next to one another, meaning you won’t eliminate potentially interesting useful individuals with job titles such as:
Property Buyer and Developer
Being specific is good – but being too specific can rule out people you might actually want to connect with!
3. Using the ‘OR’ Function
The alternative is that you could broaden your search by using the word OR (in capital letters), so you could try looking for:
“property developer” OR “property investor”
which would then give you results containing either of the specific terms contained in the speech marks. As we all know, people choose to describe their job titles in various different ways, and this allows you to look for several options at once.
4. Using the ‘NOT’ Function
Let’s turn this on its head and think about a situation where you might want to remove a potential search option altogether. This is where the ‘NOT’ function comes into play!
Using NOT (in capital letters) before a search term will exclude any searches that include that word or phrase.
For example, if you only wanted to look for CEOs of large companies and not business owners, directors or consultants, you could use the following Boolean Search:
CEO NOT Owner NOT Director NOT Consultant
From the search above, I have managed to narrow my search result for CEOs from circa 5 million to 50,000 using the Boolean search and filters. I could bring the number down even further using more of the filter options available such as LOCATION if required.
5. Using Brackets
For a more complex search, you can combine terms using brackets. For example, you could carry out a search for:
property AND (developer OR investor)
which is likely to produce results for property developers and property investors.
By using the search filters, you can refine your search results even further. For example, you can use the LOCATION option to specify your results geographically. It also makes sense to remove 1st-degree connections from your search as they are already part of your network – just look at 2nd-degree connections instead.
Practice Makes Perfect!
Practice using the Boolean Search tool. Think of some examples of ideal clients you would like to find. Use the tips above to start working towards finding the right client profiles. With the help of Boolean Search, you should easily be able to find at least 10 potential targets. If it’s done right, you should be able to locate several specific profiles that could make great leads. You could start off by searching for clients you have already worked with in the past, just to familiarise yourself with using Boolean Search.
As I’ve demonstrated, Boolean Search is a powerful tool which makes it much easier for you to hunt down more targeted prospects by narrowing your search requirements. At the very least, it will help you to remove any individuals who are unlikely to be interested in your service or who do not suit your ideal client profile, saving you valuable time and resources!
Using smart tools like Boolean Search is all part of the ‘Collect’ stage of my ‘4C Method’ for prospecting like a pro – which takes you through stages 1-4 all the way to your ultimate goal, to CONVERT, as follows:
Step 1. ‘Collect’ – finding and gathering the right people – your targeted prospects – on LinkedIn.
Step 2. ‘Connect’ – sending a personalised connection request, followed by a welcome message.
Step 3 – ‘Converse’ – engaging with prospects and providing value to build the relationship.
Step 4 – ‘Convert’ – adding more value and then moving the conversation offline when the time is right, through a series of relationship-building messages.
Watch out for my forthcoming article where I’ll take you through my 4C method in greater detail!