LinkedIn is the fastest growing, most powerful database of engaged business people in the world.

With all that information at your fingertips, finding the right people can be a little challenging – that’s where Sales Navigator comes in. It’s  a powerful tool for any individual or business. Like any complex tool, learning to to use Sales Navigator effectively takes a bit of time.

To help you get started, we’ve put together this Beginner’s Guide: How to use LinkedIn sales Navigator effectively – we hope you find it useful!


Intro : What you need to know before you start pressing buttons!

There are a few basic things you’ll need to know (and do) before you start going crazy creating searches, tags and firing messages around the LinkedIn network.

You might have your destination in mind, but you may not yet have all the required tools and information at your disposal to work out how to get there.

Checklist : 5 key things before you begin

1 : A clear customer definition

Be it ICP, target account or just a straight up persona; you need to know whom you are trying to identify and find on LinkedIn. This might sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many people forget or overlook this essential step before jumping in.

2 : Dig deeper to create a more detailed profile

You’ll often need to dig deeper into your target customer profile to start identifying the actual people within those organisations on LinkedIn.

Typically you’ll need to profile:

  • Key decision makers
  • Key influencers
  • Blockers

There are hidden challenges here that you may not immediately see, for example someone’s job title vs. seniority.

In a large org, or specific industry, what appears to be a junior title may in fact be very senior (and vice versa).

We’ll come onto this in Chapters 1 & 2.

3 : What kind of Sales Navigator Seat do you have?

This is a basic but important thing to understand. There are three levels of Sales Navigator seats:

  • Professional
  • Team
  • Enterprise

The most common two are Professional and Team – and there are some subtle but important differences in functionality between the them.

4 : Is any other LinkedIn activity happening in your business?

It’s important to understand if there are any other people (or external partners) engaged in activity on LinkedIn for your business. They may have done some groundwork for you or be able to assist in getting you up and running faster.

The usual suspects to check with are:

  • Marketing teams
  • Sales teams
  • PR or communications
  • Talent or recruitment
  • HR or employee experience

If you know any of your colleagues are using their accounts in their own roles unofficially, it always helps to join forces where you can to maximise returns from your efforts.

5 : Do you need approval from anyone before you start?

Finally, a lot of organisations have been developing social media policies as a part of employment contracts, codes of conduct or regular compliance training, so it’s very important to check if your employer or business has these in place.

You may need to get a tick from a compliance or HR colleague just to ensure you don’t get a surprise meeting request from them down the track to explain what you’ve been saying from your professional social presence!

Chapter 1 : Getting started with searches on Sales Navigator

Sales Navigator offers almost too many ways to filter and refine your lists of target prospects.

Some of the available stock filters are more useful than others, and it’s also important to get to grips with some basic boolean to make the most of the tool.

The key is to play around with different combinations until you get a list that satisfies (as closely as possible) your audience definition and specific segmentation or targeting objectives.

1 : The basics, Saved Searches vs. Lead Lists

We’ll be talking about these two things a lot in this guide, so it’s important to understand exactly what they are.

Saved Searches are dynamic, live lists of people that meet criteria you specify. This means that the lists will change as people change their profiles, and that creating an accurate, effective list is part art, part science!

Lead Lists are static lists of either people or businesses that you create manually. These lists do not change unless you change them. They are useful tools when used in combination with Saved Searches.

2 : The best filters to start searching with

This might sounds obvious, but some elements of people’s LinkedIn profiles tend to be more accurate and up to date than others. So it pays to concentrate on those when you’re creating your searches, rather than fishing through the garbage.

We’ll cover filtering in more detail in the next few chapters, but as you might expect the best populated and most fruitful elements of a profile tend to be:

  • The headline
  • The current job title
  • Education
  • Any recent articles or posted content

3 : Useful Boolean tricks

LinkedIn allows some Boolean logic to be applied in some filters, however it’s not as useful as it first appears and you can sometimes get better results with intelligent combinations of the standard filter options.

Other people have covered this topic pretty extensively, however two easy quick reference guides are available from LinkedIn themselves:

  1. LinkedIn quick guide to Boolean 
  2. Simple visual guide to Boolean (pdf) – an oldie but a goodie

4 : Super combos that work

There are a few combinations of standard filters that are just super useful starting points. We’ll cover what these are and why a little later on, but they will give you a strong starting point to start customising your own lists rather than starting from scratch.

Some good starting points are:

  • Identify specific prospects in a specific role based on social and physical proximity: Relationship + Current Job Title + Location
  • Identify groups of people with common interests and education across the network: Relationship + School + Posted Content Keywords
  • Identify people participating in industry or LinkedIn groups by proximity to you: Relationship + Groups + Location

First and foremost amongst them is the Relationship filter, which we’re going to get into in Chapter 2 right now!

Chapter 2 : The secret power of the Relationship filter

The relationship filter is a gem hiding in plain sight in the Sales Navigator filter list.

Thinking carefully about how you combine this with other filters can make the difference between a super successful, very relevant piece of communication and a generic, poor performing barf of messaging.

Here’s why:

1 : First degree, your network
Communicating with your direct network is super important, so understanding who is in it and whether those people are aligned with your goals is essential. Generating business outcomes from LinkedIn isn’t about having the biggest network, it’s about having the *right kind* of network. This comes from careful curation. 

2 : Second degree, friend of a friend
Meeting friends of friends is one of the best ways to get introduced in “real” life, and the same principle applies on LinkedIn. People who know people you know are more likely to have seen you / your content, and in theory will be more open to connecting as you are only one person away.

3 : Third degree+, the friends you haven’t met yet
Your wider 3rd degree+ network are the “furthest away” in terms of digital social proximity, so will require more research and focus to connect with than your 2nd degree connections. This is where the power of Sales Navigator comes in, as you can use Saved Searches and Lead Lists to find and learn about specific segments to make that intro as warm and relevant as possible.

4 : Group members, shared interests!
Finally we have group members. This can be a double edged sword, as not all groups are active or useful (it’s one feature on the network – like InMail – that has been abused by sales and marketing people looking for quick wins). If you can find active, engaged groups however, looking at their members specifically can yield great results. 

Chapter 3 : Some basic filtering tips to manage current vs. new conversations

LinkedIn recently introduced some very handy ways to filter out people from the Saved Searches in Sales Navigator.

Some of these are in filters, some are a bit more clunky (relying on Lead Lists and Tags) but work effectively once you have a system set up.

The most effective is some form of live integration or web service, but we’ll cover those in a future guide.

For now, we’ll concentrate in using the Lead and Tag features to help you manually manage your Saved Searches more closely.

1 : Remove saved leads from search
One easy way to remove anyone you have already spent some time on / with from your Saved Searches is to remove saved leads. This automatically removes anyone you’ve saved into a Lead List (NOT an Account List) from the Saved Search you are creating. If you are running outreach or communications this is particularly useful to ensure you don’t send a contradictory or irrelevant message to the wrong person!

2 : Remove contacted leads from search
Similar to #1, you can also remove contacted leads from your Saved Searches. This only works if you use InMail, so the use of this feature is limited.

3 : Search within saved accounts
Another great way to get really specific in your Saved Searches is to search within saved accounts. If you have a list of target accounts, you can search within this list to identify key decision makers only within these businesses.

4 : Include/exclude Tags
This is another powerful feature that allows you to customise lists to the next level!

If you used tags across your connections, you can then include or exclude people based on those tags, or combinations of tags. This requires some manual work to manage the tags themselves, but is incredibly powerful!

Chapter 4 : Killer combos of filters to create focused target prospect lists

Now you’ve got a good feel for some of the key foundational elements of good Saved Search practice, we can get into bringing some to life!

There are a few simple but very powerful combinations of filters that will yield great results quickly.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good starting point for you to begin your own experiments and continue to refine your targeting.

We’re going to assume you’ve got some basics in here already in the following fields:

  • Location
  • Company headcount
  • Relationship

A : Exact Job Title + Seniority Level + Industry
Output = a specific list of people in exactly the role you’re looking for, at a suitable level of seniority within a specific industry vertical. These lists are very accurate based on title, with additional qualification from the following two filters.

B : Seniority Level + Function
Output = a broad set of people of a specific seniority level (NOTE: this requires accurate location filtering due to variance in “seniority” across borders) within a specific industry vertical. You could substitute Industry for Function or Company Type and create a different lens on a similar group.

C : Keyword Match in Job Title + Seniority Level + Industry
Output = A slightly broader view against jobs titles qualified by seniority and industry. Matching by keyword rather than exact title can give you insights into sectors with a lot of job title variance (for example marketing) where it might be hard to pick out one key target role.

SECRET WEAPON : Posted Content Keywords
If you want to take your search refinement up a notch, try out posted content keywords.

Looking for specific keywords or phrases in this filter can help you identify highly valuable, active members of a community or micro community very quickly.

This filter only works well against people that are actively posting to the network, so check the Posted Last 30 Days ratio (divide the number of people that posted in the last 30 days by the total number of people in the list) in your Saved Search first.

Chapter 5 : Key profile elements to use to identify common ground

There are several filters that are gold for identifying great ways to introduce yourself to someone. With a little practice you’ll be throwing these into every new search to see what common ground you can find off the bat!

1 : School
Finding people that studied where you have, or even that did the same degree is always a good way to create a warm intro. For an added bonus try to see if you can find people that studied around the same time.

2 : Posted Content Keywords
Anyone that is taking the time to actively post to LinkedIn is giving you a lot of interesting insights – interrogating their content for specific topics you are interested in is an easy and effective way to identify people that are active on the network and therefore likely to respond and engage more than those who are not.

3 : Past Company
In the same vein as School, finding people that have worked at places you or your colleagues have worked at, worked with or had some form of relationship with in the past is another great way to identify shared professional interests.

Chapter 6 : Assessing the results against your target audience and objectives

So we’re going to get into a bit of marketing chat here, but if your boss comes over and asks you how things are going (or why you’re messing around on social networks all day) you’re going to need an answer.

The best way to start thinking about measuring your audience, and your own contribution to the greater good of the business, is by talking audience sizing and reach.

Here are the easy ways to talk like a marketer!

1 : Total potential audience size
When you create Saved Searches, you are creating target audience segments at a personal level. These segments are a subset of your company’s overall target audience in market. So the number of prospects at the top of your list, is your personal target audience. If you can give that number across one (or more) of your segments, boom, you’ve got your total target audience size.

2 : Addressable audience
Within the world of LinkedIn, your addressable audience is simply your network. Your reach into that network depends on the nature of your engagement with them, but in very simple terms your total addressable audience is a combination of:

  • Your first degree connections and followers
  • A proportion of your 2nd and 3rd degree plus network

3 : Incorporating your activity into the wider business
Finally, it’s great talking audience numbers but you’ll need to show some business outcomes as well.

Here you’ll need to talk to your colleagues in Comms, Marketing and/or Sales to get an idea of what their objectives are, and how you might contribute toward them. As a starting point that might fall into one of three buckets:

  1. Engagement with your audience
  2. MQLs your are generating
  3. SQLs you are generating

There are of course many other ways to measure your activity, which we will cover in more detail in future guides!

Next Steps : What you should be thinking about before you start reaching out to your prospects

So now you’re armed with the knowledge you need to start creating some powerful prospect lists using Sales Navigator, you’ll want to know how to start putting them to use.

Once you’ve defined at least one or two lists, you’re ready to move onto the next step:

Commencing outreach!
Get yourself a free trial of Linda once you’ve got a few Saved Searches ready, and put them to the test.