LinkedIn may not be as sexy as its instant-gratification mates, Facebook and Twitter, but it’s the top social network for professionals. And with targeted search, you don’t have to spend lots of time there.

LinkedIn provides a search box on the top navigation bar for people, jobs, groups, companies, etc. A vastly expanded Advance Search feature is available for people and jobs. Here are a few tips to help you hone your search for faster, useful results.

Search by name

Need to find someone by name? Using the basic search box to look for John Smith is not a good use of your time since LinkedIn searches every profile for the words John and Smith. My search returned over 42K profiles. Instead, click on Advanced Search and use the Last Name and First Name fields. This narrowed my results to 12K.

You can then use the filters on the left to refine your search results by employer, title, group, industry and a host of other factors. Checking the Marketing box limited my results to 200 and from there I could scan to companies to locate the John Smith I’m trying to find.

Search by company

LinkedIn has over 150 million member but “only” a few million companies so it’s much easier to find the company you’re looking for. First choose Company from the pull-down menu. Use quote to narrow your search. For instance, a search for Rocket Matter returns 7 hits. However, “Rocket Matter” in quotes returns the one I’m looking for.

If your search returns many hits, use the filters on the left to narrow by industry and location among others. Hiring on LinkedIn is one of the filters for currently available jobs at that company.

Search by group

LinkedIn groups are great for creating community, engaging, and expanding your network. But with over one million groups and growing, it helps to fine tune your search.

From the basic search box on the top navigation bar, choose Groups and enter your search. My search for Cloud Computing returned over 1,700 hits. Putting quote around “Cloud Computing” only narrowed the search to 1,600. The filter at the left only allows me to limit the group by type, such as Networking, Professional, Corporate, etc. Not terribly useful.

A better option is to toggle over Groups in the top navigation bar and choose Groups You May Like from the pull down menu. The resulting list of groups is based on similar attributes between you and other members in groups (such as companies, schools, or industries in common).

Search by job

Employers and potential employees are increasingly using LinkedIn to network professionally and match jobs to qualified candidates. Make sure your profile is current and complete. Read the network updates you receive via email to find out who’s moving where.

Here are a few special search types that LinkedIn provides to refine your results:

Quoted searches – If you would like to search for an exact phrase, you can enclose the phrase in quotation marks (for example: “product manager”).
– Searches – If you would like to do a search but exclude a particular term, type that term with a – immediately before it (for example: -computer). Your search results will exclude any profile containing that term.
OR searches – If you would like to search for profiles which include just one of two or more terms (for example: CEO OR President) you can separate those terms with the upper-case word OR.
AND searches – If you would like to search for profiles which include two terms (for example: manager AND director) you can separate those terms with the upper-case word AND. However, you don’t have to use AND — if you enter two terms (for example: manager director) it will assume that there is an AND between them.
Parenthetical searches – If you would like to do a complex search (for instance, finding vice presidents or directors of divisions) you can combine terms like this: VP OR (director AND division). This will find people who have VP in their profiles, or have director AND division in their profiles.

Use these tips to fine tune your search for a quick, useful LinkedIn experience. Then you’ll have time to go and play on Twitter and Facebook.

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