How to find leads using LinkedIn Search

2 minute read

Compared to any other social platforms, the audience on LinkedIn are well defined, and profiled based on: what they do, topics they engage with, and much more. 

In fact, LinkedIn users typically comprise decision-makers at organizations across all spectrums.  So, when you identify and engage with the right person, you’re speaking directly to prospects who can become your paying customers.

Is LinkedIn enough to research your LinkedIn contacts?

Though you’re able to find people and engage with them on LinkedIn directly—is LinkedIn enough to gather all the data points you need about them to find if they’re the right fit for your business?

First you need to identify if the ones you’re trying to engage with, are those with high buying intent. Else you are better off spending time on those who are in the market for your product. 

Next you need to verify their contact information and extract all the data points you need to engage with them across LinkedIn, email, inMail, text, voicemail, and more.

All of this cannot happen on LinkedIn alone, even if LinkedIn is your primary channel for prospecting and outreach.

Data best sourced from LinkedIn

  • Company headcount
  • Viewed your profile
  • Relocation / New Offices
  • Decision makers
  • Job openings listed
  • Events, etc.

Data you get from other sources

To make sure your reach out to the right prospects is relevant to what they’re trying to accomplish at any given point, you need to gather data from several other sources online to collect data points such as:

  • IPO / Mergers / Acquisition
  • Leadership changes
  • Funding/investment 
  • Product launches
  • Case studies 
  • Rebrands / Website Updates
  • Customer reviews
  • Changes in legislation
  • Geographic expansion 
  • Employee reviews
  • Sector/industry announcements
  • Company performance
  • Mention in an analyst reports, and a lot more.

But for these data points, you need to pull together information from various sources, which is where Plena helps. Plena extracts information about your leads across various online sources and helps you build a list based on intent.

linkedin search

On that note, if you would like to know how intent data works and how it is collected—here’s a primer on how intent data is collected.

How is intent data acquired?

Whether you're searching for a specific person or trying to build a list of prospects in a particular industry—the steps discussed in this post will help streamline your LinkedIn prospecting process.

Types of LinkedIn account

Linkedin offers 9 types of LinkedIn accounts.

  • LinkedIn Free account
  • LinkedIn Premium Career: $39.99 /month
  • LinkedIn Premium Business: $59.99 /month
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: $99.99 /month
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator Advanced: $149.99 /month
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator Enterprise: custom pricing
  • LinkedIn Recruiter Lite: $180 /month
  • LinkedIn Recruiter: $835 /month
  • LinkedIn Learning: $29.99 / month

Here's a quick overview of what the various core paid plans offer:

linkedin search
Unless you have a Sales Navigator license, LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to build lists on their platform. And even if you have a Sales Navigator license, LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to easily export the contacts for multichannel outreach.

On that note, we would also recommend you to check out our in-depth blog post on “Is linkedin premium worth it” where we compare the paid plans in depth so that you can make an informed choice on which one you should go for.

With that, let’s now look at using LinkedIn search for prospecting.

Getting started with LinkedIn Search

The first step in leveraging LinkedIn for prospecting and list building is to understand the comprehensive search functionalities it offers. LinkedIn's search engine is a powerful tool that allows users to filter through millions of profiles, posts, companies, and jobs. 

But, how do you use it effectively for your prospecting efforts? It starts with the basics - knowing how to access and utilize the search features to pinpoint your ideal prospects.

LinkedIn search can be accessed from the search bar at the top of almost every page on the platform. You can begin with a simple keyword related to your industry, job title, or location. 

For those looking to dive deeper, LinkedIn offers advanced search options, including filters like degree of connection. industry, past company, school, and profile language. These filters can be incredibly useful for narrowing down your search to the most relevant profiles.

LinkedIn Search: Basic vs Premium search differences

LinkedIn Basic, accessible to any user at no cost, offers a solid foundation for beginning your lead generation journey. It allows users to search for people, jobs, companies, and groups, providing a glimpse into the vast network of professionals and opportunities available. For B2B users, this can be a starting point to identify potential leads by using filters like location, current companies, and industries. However, the Basic version has its limitations, particularly in the breadth of search filters and the number of profiles you can view and reach out to, which can restrict a deep dive into lead generation efforts.

LinkedIn Premium and Sales Navigator are engineered with advanced features tailored for B2B marketing and sales professionals aiming to efficiently find, connect with, and build relationships with potential leads. Sales Navigator broadens the search capabilities beyond what's available in the Basic version, offering more detailed filters such as years of experience, function, seniority level, and company size. This granularity allows for a more targeted search, ensuring that the leads you're pursuing are more aligned with your ideal customer profile.

Moreover, Sales Navigator provides enhanced insights into your searched profiles and a greater view into your extended network's reach, enabling a more strategic approach to lead generation. It also includes InMail credits, allowing you to directly message prospects outside your network, thereby increasing the likelihood of engaging with high-value leads. Additionally, features like lead recommendations and the ability to save leads and accounts for future outreach further enrich the lead generation process, making it more efficient and effective.

AI lead generation: Building your lead list using LinkedIn

Unless you have a Sales Navigator license, LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to build lists even on their own platform. 

That is why you need Plena – an AI-based sales development robot that responsibly sources leads while respecting the rules and limits set by LinkedIn. Once you connect your LinkedIn to Plena, you can use Linkedin’s default search filters to build your list. 

linkedin search

For example, you start with “General Search” and let’s say, you want to build a list of “sales managers” in the US working in the information technology domain.

You apply the search filters on LinkedIn, and hit next in Plena.

linkedin search
This is where Plena does its magic — it completely reads through every profile shortlisted (based on the search filters you defined) and extracts values that will be beneficial for strategically targeting when you run campaigns.The data that Plena reads and captures will also be used by AI to personalize each engagement. 

Furthermore, the bot will capture over two dozen data points like industry,  systems used, social media activity, headcount of company, open jobs  etc. from different sites to determine the intent. 

Once the list is built, you will see a banner notification as well as receive an email notification. The list will appear under the “My Leads” tab. You can view it by downloading and simply start running sequence based outreach campaigns for the list. 

Advanced LinkedIn Search techniques leveraging AI lead generation

The more targeted your list, the more successful your campaigns will be. So, once you're comfortable with the basics of LinkedIn search, you might want to explore some advanced techniques such as a Boolean search that can further refine your list building and prospecting efforts. 

For those unfamiliar with it, Boolean search involves combining keywords with operators like AND, OR, and NOT to produce more relevant search results. 

For example, if you're looking for software developers not involved in management, you might use a search query like “software developer NOT manager” to filter your results.   

linkedin search

Another advanced technique involves making use of LinkedIn's 'Saved Searches' feature. This feature allows you to save your search criteria so you can quickly access it in the future. It's especially useful for sales professionals and recruiters who are constantly on the lookout for new prospects. 

By saving your searches, you can also receive automatic alerts from LinkedIn when new profiles match your criteria, ensuring that you never miss out on potential leads.

Leveraging your LinkedIn Connections using AI lead generation

Remember, the key to an efficient LinkedIn prospecting strategy is not just to find any leads, but to find the right leads. For that let’s first understand how LinkedIn connections work.

LinkedIn employs a system of connection levels to categorize the various degrees of professional relationships among its users, signifying the closeness or directness of these connections.

The nature of your connection with another LinkedIn member significantly influences the ways in which you can interact with them on the platform.

What does 1st, 2nd, and 3rd mean on LinkedIn?

The degrees of connections on LinkedIn are defined as follows:

  • 1st-degree connections: These are individuals who are directly connected to you because either you have accepted their connection request, or they have accepted yours. This direct link means you can easily communicate with them through LinkedIn's messaging feature.
  • 2nd-degree connections: These are people who are not directly connected to you but share a common connection. This means that you and a 2nd-degree connection have a mutual connection, essentially making them a friend of a friend. You can request to connect with them directly to turn them into 1st-degree connections.
  • 3rd-degree connections: These individuals are connected to your 2nd-degree connections, placing them one step further away in your LinkedIn network. They are like the friend of a friend of a friend. While you can see them in search results and may have access to some of their profile information, your interaction capabilities are more limited compared to 1st and 2nd-degree connections.

You can use Plena to filter the specific degree of connections you want to reach out to, and  build a highly targeted list of connections. Usually building a list of 1st or 2nd degree connections help you the most because you tend to have enough context about them, to build meaningful conversations when you reach out to them as part of your campaigns.

linkedin search

Finding leads from LinkedIn Groups

Another powerful aspect of LinkedIn for prospecting and list building is the use of LinkedIn Groups. If you’re part of industry-specific LinkedIn Groups or groups related to specific interests—you’re probably sitting on a gold mine of prospects.

linkedin lead generation

However, you’ll only be able to build a list of group members where you are a member too. Once you have the list built on Plena, you can automate your engagement with these members such as liking their posts, sending DMs, and more.

For instance, let’s say you’re a RevOps agency that implements HubSpot solutions for SaaS companies in Australia. Being part of specific region based HubSpot user groups helps you connect with the right prospects.

AI lead generation

With Plena, you can build a list of those people and set up outreach campaigns across channels such as LinkedIn, email, SMS and even set up automated voicemails.

Leveraging Alumni connections

Next, let’s look at how to build a list based on the school or university one graduated from. All you need to do is—go to the Find leads tab on Plena’s home page, and under LinkedIn, the third option you’ll find is “School Alumni Page''.

As you select the “School Alumni Page”, the LinkedIn interface will load within Plena, and you’ll be automatically taken to the “School” filter. Let’s say, you want to build a list of people who graduated from University of Utah, all you have to do is to select the university or school, and select the “Next” tab in Plena. 

linkedin search

Now, Plena will show you the total number of people that are selected based on your filter. You can further narrow your list by going back to LinkedIn and adding more filters like 1st degree connection only, or those who are now in a specific location, or industry, etc. The more focused your list, the more targeted your campaigns will be.

Plena’s AI reads through those shortlisted profiles in detail to extract key information, which can be used to run targeted campaigns and to personalize the messaging during outreach. 

Leveraging AI lead generation for your event attendees

If you regularly manage events on LinkedIn, you might not want to miss out on the opportunity to build a list of attendees from your LinkedIn events, and engage with them across multiple channels.

Go to the Find leads tab on Plena’s home page, and under LinkedIn, the fifth option you’ll find is “Events”. As you select the “Events”, the LinkedIn interface with a list of all the events you created as well as the ones you created, or were a part of.

linkedin search

Once you select a specific event, Plena will show you the total number of people that attended your LinkedIn event, allowing you to build a list of those attendees.

All set with your list? Run multichannel campaigns

Once you’ve the high intent lead list ready, you’re all set to reach out to your list across multiple channels. Plena’s AI-powered prospecting helps you craft compelling, personalized messages when & where it matters—email, social media, calls, voicemails, SMS, and more.

AI lead generation

Because Plena’s AI utilizes publicly available information to research prospects and uncover relevant insights to personalize your message, you save at least one day every week otherwise lost in manual research efforts.

Want to experience Plena for yourself? Sign up today or schedule a demo with us to see Plena in action.If you’re in B2B and want to make the best use of LinkedIn to find leads, let me assure you that you’re in the right place.

But first—why is LinkedIn the best place to find B2B leads? 

Each day without Plena = Lost Sales

With Plena — list building, contact enrichment and scalable multi-channel outreach is a breeze.