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Not enough connections to make LinkedIn useful? No Problem!

image You’re unemployed, and have become convinced by many others that LinkedIn is probably the most effective tool you can use for your job search. It is.

So you register, create a ‘killer’ profile, and start adding connections. You send invitations to former co-workers, friends, family, former vendors, customers, and anyone else you can think of. Then you wait. You start getting a trickle of acceptances and in a few days have 25 connections.

Terrific! So now you start running searches in their People ‘Advanced Search’ page to find contacts at companies you’d like to pursue. Perhaps you’re a Staff Accountant with Retail experience and would love to work for WalMart. You do a search for Title: Accounting Manager at Company: WalMart; and you get no, or maybe one result.

You think: “Surely, out of over 100 Million people on LinkedIn there have to be a few Accounting Managers from WalMart!” and surely there are. However with only 25 contacts, you may not have anyone in your 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level connections that fits those search criteria.

So what good is LinkedIn if you don’t have enough connections to do a broad enough of a search? Thank you George Boole and Google!

In case you’re not familiar with him, George Boole is an English Mathematician in the 1800’s that invented “Boolean Logic”. Today, Boolean Logic is a commonly used method of conducting advanced searches on the internet through sites like Google. OK, that’s an interesting tidbit of trivia, but what does that have to do with your problem of not being able to reach enough people on LinkedIn? Everything!

Did you know that you can use Google to search only specific sites? Did you know that most (although not all) people on LinkedIn mark their profiles as “Public” so that they can be found through external search engines like Google? Did you know you can conduct advanced searches on Google to find a multitude of people on LinkedIn that you would not be able to find through a search inside the LinkedIn site? If not, this can be enormously helpful for you in your job search!

If you are on Twitter, be sure to follow @GlenCathey; @GaryCozin; and Irina Shamaeva / @BrainGain.

These are experts with far greater knowledge and ability in this area than I can possibly hope to share here. Also be sure to look at their blogs for more information. However, here are some basics to get you started and will hopefully make your search much more productive.

So, you’re still looking for an Accounting Manager at WalMart. You go to Google… now what?

You will enter a “Boolean” search string that includes all the criteria you are looking for.

The first part of your string is to tell Google to only search LinkedIn. Type:


Then, you want to find people that have WalMart in their profile so you add:

site:www.linkedin.com WalMart

Now, you want to find anyone that has Accounting Manager in their profile. You should put any phrases in quotes. Otherwise you will get results of people that may have those words, but not necessarily together. You may get a profile that has: “read Accounting for Dummies” and “Engineering Manager”; not exactly what you are looking for.

So add to your string:

site:www.linkedin.com WalMart “Accounting Manager”

If you click enter now, you will get somewhere around 839 results. That’s overwhelming! However, what you’ll find is that the majority of those results are “Directory” entries in LinkedIn and not actual profiles. So for your search string you want to add a command to subtract, or ignore directory entries.

Do this by telling it to ignore profile directories with a minus sign, like this:

site:www.linkedin.com WalMart “Accounting Manager” -profiles

Now hit enter, and you get around 99 results. That’s manageable. You’ll find that many of those are profiles of people that may have worked at WalMart in the past in some other role and may be an Accounting Manager now somewhere else, or some other such deviation from the ideal profile, however, you will also find several relevant results that would be excellent contacts for you in your job search.

Perhaps you are a Financial Analyst looking for a Finance Director contact at General Mills headquarters in Minneapolis. You could search:

site:www.linkedin.com Minneapolis “General Mills” “Finance Director” -profiles

Or you are an IT Help Desk tech looking for any Help Desk Managers to contact in Des Moines:

site:www.linkedin.com "Des Moines" "Help Desk Manager" -profiles

You get the idea.

When you get their “Public Profile” in LinkedIn, be sure to click the yellow “View Full Profile” button to see more detail.

Get creative, try different phrases, terms, or titles.

Boolean searches in Google can provide you tremendous access into LinkedIn that you may not be able to get with the limited number of connections you may have, no matter what the number!


Anonymous said...

Great article--I didn't know about this! Thanks!

How might a recruiter looking for company clients (instead of employees to fill the jobs) utilize LinkedIn/Boolean searching? I mean, LinkedIn seems great for job hunting or finding unemployed people, but what about finding companies to hire a recruiter?

Harry said...

Thank You Gary Cozin for an important correction on removing Directory entries!

(I told you he's the expert!)


Noor Khemji said...

Great article...

Anonymous said...

Possibly the best read I have read this year..

-My Regards

Anonymous said...


I echo Gilberto's response! I have gained more insight and help than I have received from a professional career counselor all year!

Stephen Van Vreede said...

Great post Harry! This type of search is definitely a great strategy to help a job seeker get the ball rolling. After finding out who to contact, the next step is initiating that contact in a meaningful manner. I have the Online Professional Networking Strategist (OPNS) Certification, which helps job seekers to develop a comprehensive online job search strategy using LinkedIn and other social media sites. Resume and Job Search Coaches with the OPNS can help a candidate to use LI Groups, LI Answers, Companies, and other data on LinkedIn to optimize the time they spend in the job search process.

Stephen Van Vreede, www.ittechexec.com

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