How to Find Sales Leads on LinkedIn

LinkedIn sales leads strategy - Zealous Social

Written by Kalleigh O'Togher

Kalleigh is the founder and CEO of Zealous Social.  Her expertise in marketing comes from 15 years of serving mid-size businesses in the trades, services and retail industries.

September 16, 2020

Using LinkedIn to find sales leads

LinkedIn is a professional networking site with over 706 million members in 200 countries and regions worldwide. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has said he wants LinkedIn to be the home of all working professionals across the world, and be the central hub for every job posting across the estimated 70 million companies worldwide.

Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn, and a recent survey of business executives found that 76 percent of them check their LinkedIn accounts on a daily basis. (

The B2B decision-makers you’re trying to reach are using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is reported to be the most-used social platform for Fortune 500 companies.

In fact, according to B2B News Network, approximately half of all users are likely to purchase from a company that they engage with on LinkedIn. (

You hear people say that they get their B2B leads on LinkedIn but you have no idea how. This post will break it down for you to find those people actively looking for your product or service.

LinkedIn provides you with the exact wording to use in your leads search when someone is looking for a recommendation for your particular product or service.

You can follow along with this post using the free LinkedIn account. You don’t need Sales Navigator to do these lead searches.

Let’s get started finding leads

To get started click on the ‘Start a post’ box at the top of your home page screen:

Click on start a post box at the top of your LinkedIn home screen to get started finding sales leads.

Now click on ‘Find an expert’ at the bottom of the post screen:

Click on find an expert at the bottom of the post screen.

In the ‘What do you need help with?’ drop down choose your industry. For this example I chose Marketing.

Underneath that another drop down box will appear titled ‘What type of Marketing help?’ with options in the dropdown. Going with my previous choice of Marketing, I chose Marketing Strategy.

The Description box at the bottom of the screen will now pre-populate with a sample phrase LinkedIn suggests you use. 

Use the what do you need help with drop down to select your industry.

This is where you get the exact wording you will use in your sales lead search.

Use LinkedIn’s Search Function to Find Leads

Go back to your home screen and type in the search bar the exact wording as it was shown in the description box (see pictured above). 

I will type in (I’m looking for professionals with). The words in red match the ‘ask phrase’ part of the description wording exactly. Make sure to add the brackets around your phrase. I added the word ‘with’ because it narrows down the search results better than without it. But you can try either way to see what type of results you get.

Now type the word AND in capital letters outside the brackets.

Then type another set of brackets and inside those brackets put your (service). 

Since I chose Marketing Strategy as my drop down choice in the example above we’ll continue with that example. So, I would type (Marketing Strategy) exactly like that with the brackets.

So you’re complete search term to enter would look like this: 

(I’m looking for professionals with) AND (Marketing Strategy) 

Then choose content as the option to do your search in.

Enter your sales lead search phrase in the search box and choose the content option to perform your search.

In the results, you should see anyone who’s posted looking for recommendations for your product or service.

Filter Your LinkedIn Search Results

You can filter your searches using the different filter options listed. You can search for any posts in the last 24 hours, week  or month. You can also search for 1st connection posts only. If you’re looking for a certain industry, you can filter for that too. 

Filter your search for better results.

Play with the filters to see how they work and which ones give you the best results. I chose to filter for the Past 24 hours for this example.

Now see what results you get.

As you can see from this example our results came back with a sales lead.

Use your sales lead search results to start contacting your leads.

As you can see from the results, the wording on his post was the default phrase LinkedIn pre-populated for him to use. It’s also the exact phrasing we used for our lead search. 

You can play with the wording to use in your search but we found that using LinkedIn’s prepopulated phrasing gets great results as most people don’t change it. They just use the default phrase and add some extra information if it’s applicable to their post.

Narrow Down your LinkedIn Search Results

If you want to get even more specific in your search results you can use the following:

Enter the ask phrase ie: (I’m looking for professionals with) AND (add a niche ie: Graphic Design) NOT (and undesired skill ie: Logo). 

This is telling the search query that you want to find Graphic Design leads but you don’t do Logo’s so anyone looking specifically for a logo design will be excluded from the search results.

Play with the NOT bracket wording to see what works best. 

Use Geo-Targeting In Your LinkedIn Search Results

You can also narrow down your search results even further by being city specific. You can add that as part of your search query.

For Example:

(I’m looking for professionals with) AND (Graphic Design) AND (Vancouver) NOT (Logo). 

You can add a city or a state or a country. It’s up to you what geographical area you want to target. 

Just note that if you don’t add a geographical area, the search results will be global and there may be some countries that you don’t service. 

The downside to adding a geographical area is that it may really limit the search results you get because most people don’t add their location to their posts. Try adding it and then removing it and see what type of results you get both ways.

The search query will only allow you to narrow it down to 5 search specific queries or 5 bracketed terms. After 5, the search query will come back with no results. LinkedIn has put that maximum amount in place this year for these search types. 

You can save this search page to your bookmarks so you can go back to this specific search query daily or weekly. This is great if you do multiple search queries for different types of leads. Instead of retyping your search query every time you can just open your bookmarked pages.

Contacting Your LinkedIn Leads

Now that you have your leads list, you can connect with them by commenting on their post or messaging them directly. Introduce yourself and let them know you can help them with whatever product or service they are looking for. 

I would suggest that you don’t pitch them immediately. It’s better to send a direct message letting them know who you are and that you’re interested in knowing more about them and what their goal or needs are. 

Check out their website to get more information about their business and how you can help them. This will help you write a more personal message rather than a generic pitch they are probably getting from everyone else.

Other Lead Search Options

There are other ways to find LinkedIn leads that haven’t posted about needing your products or services.

You can do people searches based on their company, job title and geographical location. So if you want to target Dentists in Toronto you’d search for someone with Dentist as their job title and Toronto as their geographical area.

With your Dentist lead search results, you’d need to start an outreach campaign. You’d start by sending them a connection request with a personal message (not a pitch) letting them know who you are and what you have to offer and why you are reaching out. You should start out trying to help in some way so you can build up a relationship with them. 

Another option is to find out what groups they are in and join those groups and participate in the conversations to build up a relationship and show your value. 


LinkedIn sales lead searches aren’t that difficult once you know how to do them. Once you have a sales lead, build a relationship with them through strategic messages that lead them ultimately to the sale. 

Try these different search queries out and let us know how you did.

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