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How to Use LinkedIn for Executive Job Searches and Professional Networking

Tips for Senior Leaders to Research Target Companies, Engage the Right People and Find Your Next Opportunity
Magnifying glass over LinkedIn screen on computer

You’re a senior leader ready for what’s next in your career. You’ve built a compelling LinkedIn profile that tells your unique professional narrative. You’ve optimized it so recruiters, hiring managers and other professionals can find you easily. You’re actively adding new connections to your network.

Now what?

Research is another important way for executive jobseekers, board candidates and senior leaders to use LinkedIn.

The world’s largest professional network makes a wealth of information available within just a few clicks:

  • More than 830 million members
  • Businesses, associations and publications around the world
  • Public and private groups with like-minded interests
  • Trending topics, thought leadership articles and educational content

Knowing when and how to access these resources can help you achieve your goals.

Get Started With Three Easy Steps

1. LinkedIn Strategy: Know What You’re After

To get the most out of LinkedIn, you need a clear objective. Are you looking for a new leadership position? Seeking your first board of directors role? Ready to connect with other executives in your industry? Take time to consider why you’re active on the network.

Figuring out in advance what’s meaningful to you will help tailor your LinkedIn searches

Once you know your goal, draft a list that includes these items:

  • Keywords and job titles relevant to your next opportunity, or the type of professionals you want to meet.
  • Geographic locations, industries and types of companies you want to target.
  • Topics and content that you’re passionate about.

Figuring out in advance what’s meaningful to you will help tailor your LinkedIn searches. You can use the same list of terms to find job postings, new connections, educational content, upcoming events and groups to join.

Here’s what the keyword search terms might look like for two different executive jobseekers:

  • A candidate for a VP of marketing role in Florida: VP or EVP or SVP, marketing, direct response, demand generation, marketing operations, e-commerce, B2C, Miami, Orlando.
  • A healthcare executive considering a board of directors role: board member, board of directors, board recruiter, private company board, private equity board, healthcare, medical technology; educational topics like “how to land a board role” or “first-time board candidates.”

2. LinkedIn Search: Find Information Easily

Next, learn how to use LinkedIn’s search function effectively. Just like Google or any online search engine, entering a basic name (such as John Doe) or phrase (like marketing or executive recruiter) will return a broad set of entries. The more specific you are in what you type, the more targeted your results will be. Both techniques can be beneficial.

The LinkedIn search box can help you find people, companies, groups, events, open positions, topics—and more—that are relevant to your professional aspirations

It’s helpful to understand the basics of search vocabulary.

  • Filters are the menu of options LinkedIn uses to organize its content. Clicking these boxes narrows your search results.
  • Boolean criteria is “algorithm-speak” that tells the platform what to include and exclude in a search. Terms in quotations mean “exactly this.” AND/OR/NOT language that’s used in all caps lets you link together multiple concepts.

The LinkedIn search box can help you find:

  • People to follow, network with and build relationships.
  • Specific companies you want to work for, including individuals who work there and ways you’re connected.
  • Groups and events where your target audience gathers.
  • Open positions you may want to apply for.
  • Topics and conversations related to your area of expertise—and much more.

Our marketing jobseeker in Florida might start a search with “Orlando” AND “VP Marketing” OR “EVP Marketing” to look for open positions in the Orlando area.

Our board candidate might look for opportunities with private-equity owned healthcare firms using the search “Board of Directors” AND (PE OR “private equity”) AND “healthcare.”

Once either individual sees results, clicking the filter boxes can narrow in the choices.

3. LinkedIn Engagement: Be Focused and Productive

Once you’ve identified the search results that meet your criteria, shift your focus to building relationships. LinkedIn is a tool, but like any online platform, you’ll find the most value in using it to facilitate meaningful conversations.

Strive for a balance of content that is relevant to your audience, gives a sense of who you are, and that’s helpful to others in your profession

Some great ways to stand out and build strong relationships include:

  • Always sending personal notes to potential connections, rather than using LinkedIn’s default text.
  • Requesting offline conversations or one-on-one networking meetings to deepen relationships.
  • Liking, commenting on and resharing others’ posts. This is a great way to engage with potential hiring managers, influencers and thought leaders.
  • Being relentlessly helpful in your approach rather than overtly salesy. It’s great to offer your expertise and assistance, even as you’re asking others for their help.

Strive for Authenticity and Helpfulness

Whatever method you use, be yourself. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the line between professional and personal at work has blurred. LinkedIn members expect authenticity in their interactions and want to engage with others willing to share not just their professional views, but a slice of their personal interests as well. Strive for a balance of content that is relevant to your audience, gives a sense of who you are, and that’s helpful to others in your profession.

Ready for even more tips on using LinkedIn as an executive? Check out our other LinkedIn articles, or consider our “LinkedIn Mastery for Executives” courses, which are included with all our Executive Transition Services, Board Readiness and Legacy Planning engagements.

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