Use a Boolean Search to Find the Contact You Need to Talk to

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Professional networking in the digital age looks a lot different than it used to. Whether you’re connecting with co-workers on Facebook or looking for a new job on LinkedIn, the network you build online has a direct impact on your career growth. But finding the right people on networking sites like LinkedIn can be a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, you may never find it.

That’s why using Boolean Search can make such a big difference when you’re growing your network online. Here’s how you can use this feature to find the contact you need when you need them.

What’s Boolean Search?

Similar to Google, LinkedIn search allows the use of modifiers to help you get more targeted search results. This makes finding people on LinkedIn so much easier because your search terms can be used in a highly effective and targeted fashion. There are a series of keywords or symbols that when used in combination with your search terms will help you drill down to exactly who you are looking for. Here are several tricks to help you filter out the irrelevant contacts more effectively.

1. Use Quotation Marks

If you want to find results containing an exact phrase, use quotation marks to enclose the phrase. For example, if you are looking for a software engineer, by enclosing both words in quotation marks (“software engineer”) you will be more likely to find the right person for the job. This use of quotation marks tells the search engine that you’re not only interested in those individuals who have the words software and engineer when used together, thus filtering out irrelevant professionals such as electrical engineers or software salespeople.

2. AND

If on the other hand, you are looking to connect with someone who has multiple qualities or search terms within their profile, consider including the word AND in capital letters between terms when doing your search. For example, if you are looking for someone who is both a software engineer and a renewable energy expert, putting the word AND in between the two search phrases (in quotation marks of course) will help you find those professionals who only list both terms in their profile.

3. OR

Similar to the AND function, using OR between your search terms will widen your search request to include multiple search terms. So, for example, if you are looking to combine the results of two separate search terms, such as “Software Engineer” OR “Renewable Energy Expert”, you’ll include profiles that meet either search criteria.

4. NOT

If you need to exclude results that contain a specific term, using the word NOT in all capitals (similar to AND or OR), you can filter out profiles which you know you’re not interested in reviewing. For example, “Software Engineer” NOT “recent graduate” will help you filter out more inexperienced profiles.

5. Parenthetical

When you really want to get creative in your search functions, you can combine multiple modifiers to get even more complex search results. For example, if you want to search for Software AND (Engineer OR Expert) you are able to really customize your search results to whatever is most meaningful for your search. This function allows you to use the OR function in conjunction with the AND function, but only in a way that is meaningful to you and your professional network. It can be a really handy way to find just the person you’re looking for.

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