How to Find Quality Leads on LinkedIn in 3 Easy Steps (On Autopilot)

If you're working on B2B sales/marketing, successful LinkedIn Cold Outreach can play a key role in your strategy for years to come.

By using LinkedIn as a tool optimally, you can convert the hot leads that can translate into actual sales meetings for your salespeople while at the same time engage meaningfully with cold leads.

In this blog post I have detailed out the exact steps that I use for my own agency clients as part of direct messaging funnel.

This is the simplest funnel among many different funnels that anyone can replicate to boost lead generation.

The fun part is that once you master these steps, you can repeat them to generate leads from scratch on autopilot with very little ongoing effort.

Here are the steps:

1. Use Search or Sales Navigator to identify the target population

2. Use Boolean search to laser target your audience

3. Send automated connection requests to people

Let's start with step 1- Sales Navigator

LinkedIn has nearly 800 Million users (as of Jan 2022) and each user has stored information like name, profession, company name, school, years of experience, skills etc. On top of that there are jargons, hashtags, key words all over that makes searching the right user a daunting task unless you are using an advanced algorithm.

That brings us to Sales Navigator- LinkedIn's own version of Advance Search that makes finding your targeted users much easier compared to ordinary search that any user can access.

However, this ease that Sales Navigator offers comes at a cost. But they offer a generous free month that you can use not just to test the tool but to get your conversion engine rolling.

Here's a comparison of LinkedIn Search and Sales Navigator:


Top 5 Sales Navigator Features

Feature #1: Save leads for future use

You can now search for a specific target group and save the leads for acting on it in future or just tracking their behavior. This way you can manage an entire group of leads using Sales Navigator.

On top of this, you'll also receive recommended leads that match your searches.

Feature #2: Power your search with Insights

This is another cool feature that tells you what's going on with your leads.

For example, if some of your lead had a job change you can get notified on this new insight.

Feature #3: Set alerts for leads

Alerts put timely information about your Saved Leads and Accounts front and center on both Sales Navigator desktop and mobile.

To activate alerts, click the Alert types button in the Leads/Accounts tab under Alerts (more on this feature later in this post).

Feature #4: Lead activity updates through Sales Navigator notifications

Sales Navigator notifications help you stay updated about lots of developments such as:

  • Whenever one of your saved leads or accounts does something such as posts an article
  • When someone views your Sales Navigator or general LinkedIn profile, you will be notified
  • If you create and save any personalized searches, whenever something happens that meets the criteria of that search, you will be notified

Feature #5: Laser target search with extra fields

Filtering leads in the Sales Navigator app with Sales Spotlights like:

  • Changed jobs in the past 90 days
  • Leads with TeamLink intro
  • Mentioned in the news in the past 30 days
  • Posted on LinkedIn in the past 30 days
  • Share experiences with you
  • Leads that follow your company on LinkedIn

Use of Boolean Search for great results

I can write an entire post on Boolean Search itself as it's a vast topic and a great skill to improve your results vastly.

But I'll restrict myself to some top Boolean operators for the time being as we are focusing on the entire lead automation project here.

In short, Boolean operators are techniques to broaden or narrow your search for better results. Search string modifiers OR operators are:




Quotes ""

Parenthesis ()

But how do we use them?

Let's say you are looking for food experts who have worked in either restaurants OR have experience in a company producing Food products.

If you perform a general search on Food Experts it will get you results from all over the place- influencers, independent consultants who worked with anything related to food in any industry. But if you specify your preferences using the Boolean operator your search will be restricted to what you are exactly looking for.

Since LinkedIn is not a social media in traditional sense it does not allow you to target users by things like gender, age, marital status or interests. But it does better in terms of laser targeting your prospects if you know whom you're looking for- city, job titles, company, schools and so on.

So if you want to increase some of these parameters while excluding some others, Boolean operators are the best tools.

Quoted Searches- It's the most commonly used Boolean operator. This is something you use when you absolutely want to include something in the text.

But if what you are looking for is not an widely accepted term, I'd avoid using them. For our Food Expert example, such professionals can call themselves as Food and Beverages expert, Food safety expert and so on. So quotes will not work in this case.

AND searches- This is best used with past of a person. For example, if I'm looking for a Food Expert whose job titles had been both Chef and Consultant, I can use the AND operator to achieve this.

OR Searches- This is another commonly used operator. It's also the default operator if you have used a multi-select option like Geography, Profile Language etc. If you include multiple choices they use OR operator by default. It means you are looking for someone who match one or more of the multiple choices.

NOT Searches- This is when you know what you want to exclude from the search. For example, if I'm looking for Food Experts who are not authors I'd use

For example, Food Expert NOT Author

Parenthetical searches- These are the most complex searches. They allow you to combine terms. For example, let's say I'm looking for Food Experts who are not also authors or bloggers. In this case my search will look like:

Food Expert NOT (author OR “food blogger”)

How To Use Phantombuster to Automate Sales Navigator

So far we have learnt how to make the most out of Sales Navigator. But still the point remains that you have to be active day in and day out on LinkedIn in order to extract value from the tool.

There is even a solution to that. Phantombuster is a tool that automates many LinkedIn (and non-LinkedIn) tasks in a sequential manner that automates your sales outreach process to a large extent. It's a 3 step process if we are automating the direct messaging funnel.

Let's have a close look at it.

What are phantoms and how they work using sessions cookies?

A Phantom is a simple bot that acts on your behalf, the network on which you’re automating will believe you’re the one manually performing each action. Phantoms gain access to your account through your browser’s session cookie, which expires every time you’re logged out of the account.

I'll explain a 3 steps process that uses Phantombuster to first expand your reach in LinkedIn and then grow your business using that reach.

Step 1: Extract data from LinkedIn Sales Navigator search results

Step 2: Use the data to build a list of profiles (remember Sales Navigator is different from LinkedIn, so you need to use the link from Sales Navigator and find the profiles in LinkedIn- this is called scraping)

Step 3: Send automated connection requests and messages to the profiles that you listed down in previous step to complete the funnel.

To complete these steps you first need to open an account with Phantombuster. They offer a 2 weeks generous free trial which is enough to get started.

But the only restriction with this trial is that you get 10 minutes of execution time. Which means the phantoms will run only for 10 minutes a day which will limit your ability to fetch data using Phantombuster. But we can worry about scale later on.

Once we sign up and verify your email you can go to the dashboard. Click on Phantoms and you'll find the list below. Select 'Sales Navigator'


You'll find Phantoms like below. (Phantoms are just products that you can use for different purposes within Phantombuster)


Here you can select "Sales Navigator Search Export" because our goal here is to extract the data from the search we just performed in Sales Navigator.


On the left side of this screen you can see the steps you need to complete to complete the process.

First you'll need to connect to LinkedIn. You can do it by either finding the cookie manually from Linkedin or by installing the chrome extension. I'm using Chrome extension here for this post as it's easier and takes just a few clicks.

By clicking on Chrome Extension, it will ask for permission. Once you add "Add Extension", it'll get added to Chrome.


Then all you need to do is to click on "Connect to LinkedIn"


Now click on Save and you'll see the following screen.


As you can see in the left panel, you've already reached the next stage in the process. Now you have to paste the link to your Sales Navigator search in the box.


Voila, you've reached the next stage called behavior. Change the number of results to scrape per launch to 1000 so that the account doesn't get flagged. In many cases social media restricts automated bot-like behavior- so better to play safe.


This screen can be a bit tricky but I'll break it down for you.

You need to enter 2 points of information-

  • Number of results to scrape per search
  • Number of results to scrape per launch and

Ignore the Advanced settings for now.

Results to scape per search means for a particular link (the search link that you entered) how many results will be extracted or copied. Usually one will try to take as many as possible. So I have kept it as 2500 which is the maximum results that Sales Navigator will produce for people search.

Results to scrape per launch is something you'll need to enter. If you keep it as 1000, you'll need 3 launches to scrape through all 2500 results. Usually Phantombuster starts from where it left in the earlier launch.

By using multiple launches you are restricting too much automation that can lead to a block on your account.

Now, you are all set for this step. Let's move on to the next one.

Step 2: Use the search data to build a list of profiles

This step is to use the data you collected in previous step to get all the profiles from LinkedIn (remember, earlier you were working with Sales Navigator)

So you need to select a separate Phantom for this (let's just say a different automation to help store the profiles).



Once you select the Phantom, you'll see that the URL has already been added to the field "Connect to LinkedIn" if you have added the Chrome extension to fetch the data.

Select "save" to go to the next step.


Now go to the Sales Navigator search export -> download the CSV with profile URLs


Now copy the data from downloaded CSV and paste it in a google sheet, share the google sheet to make it public and paste the link here.


We have now completed step 2- profile scraping.

Step 3: Send connection requests with messages to profiles scraped in previous step

This is the last step in our 3-step automation process.

First we will download copy the scraped profile from Phantombuster by visiting the "Sales Navigator Profile Scraper" Phantom from dashboard.