LinkedInterview #5

Introduction Theo Smith, I'm a Global Sales Consultant for Russell & partners who are a global executive search firm who have been established for nearly 20 years. We recruit individuals across a very broad spectrum of industries and roles and throughout the world. My role is focussed on business development so I am speaking to organisations throughout the world offering our recruiting services and expertise.

When was your LinkedIn date of birth?

January 16th 2009

Finish this sentence "to me LinkedIn is………."

....a world of opportunities, a key to one door with the chance to find many more keys . It's also my daily news source of choice, a daily networking facility and a platform where I can express myself. Whilst my focus is to gain new clients I do have a large network and often help in the sourcing of candidates for roles as well.

When do you login to LinkedIn and how often?

I use it on a daily basis, I login first thing and log out just before I leave for the day. My first activity is usually news consumption in the morning and I will use it for searching and networking periodically throughout the day. I do try to be disciplined and focus my time on LinkedIn in 3 time periods - first thing, lunchtime and at the end of the day although this isn't always possible.

How many connections do you have and why do you connect with someone?

2075 connections as of today! I have changed my philosophy of who I do and don't connect with over the years, previously my roles have been focussed in more niche areas so I built a network in line with that but now that I work at Russell Partners I need to develop a much wider base of contacts so I am a lot more open to connecting now. I will also connect with people who I have a common interest with, I don't just see connections as business contacts because I like to engage with people from all walks of business and life. Sometimes I might be in a position to be able to help them and sometimes vice versa.

It is very rare that I would refuse to connect with someone these days, even competitors. In terms of the people who I invite it tends to be CEO’s, VP’s, Director and HR professionals as they are my target contacts in organisations but I also target people with interests in politics, theatre and film because they are also interests of mine.

What features of LinkedIn do you use most?

LinkedIn Today for news feeds, advanced search for finding potential clients and candidates and groups for networking and direct messaging. I join lots of groups and I do swap and change them periodically, I think it is important to review your groups to check if they are proving to be of value and also whether I am contributing enough. Some groups I have joined purely to give me greater visibility, others because I want to be able to send a free direct message to another member(s) and I also join groups that I can actively engage in and add value to, sometimes this happens for a while and then I find interest in other areas ie marketing so I then join groups orientated towards that subject. I have recently left some recruitment orientated groups because the discussions and contributions became increasingly negative and I don't want to waste my time in such an environment where there is less value to me.

What is your favorite feature?

LinkedIn Today is definitely my favorite feature, it is remarkably accurate in feeding through highly relevant and up to date articles and posts to my home page and this is so much better than going to a site such as the BBC and sifting through lots of articles that are of no interest to find the occasional one that is. LinkedIn Today is clever in that it seems to learn what I want to see based on what I read so it just gets better and better! My only complaint is that they could provide a broader range of topics but I am sure they will in the future. Occasionally I will also ‘like’ or comment on articles I see, not every day but at least a few times a week. I do think it is important to only share stories that you have fully read and feel are of the right quality - I'm not sure everyone does this!

What success (if any) have you had from using LinkedIn?

I have found it invaluable as a source of information, I have discovered new sectors and opportunities through LinkedIn that I otherwise may have missed.

I have filled roles in the past directly through LinkedIn, I can recall one occasion in a previous role where the client was an HR Director based in Germany but the role was based in the US and I successfully sourced the candidate from Hungary! All done through LinkedIn.

What new features would you like to see?

I would love to see a search  facility where you can exclude information from the result, for example geographically I would love to perform a search for a certain criteria anywhere in the world whilst excluding one country such as the US for example (as so many LinkedIn users are based there) but you can only select one country or all countries in a search which, for our type of business is restrictive.

Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020?

It's a really interesting question, nobody knows really but in 8 years time I expect it will be very different from now, it has already really changed the landscape for the recruitment industry so far but only in the developed world, in 8 years time will LinkedIn have had a similar impact on other industries and will it be more widely used in developing countries? Will it have completely turned the recruitment industry upside down by then, especially at middle management levels?

It is certainly a really exciting and interesting time and I look forward to seeing how LinkedIn continues to have an impact on us all over the next 8 years.

What I find really interesting about Theo's use of LinkedIn is the emphasis he puts on reading articles and gathering information via LinkedIn Today. This can be misunderstood as time-wasting but my experience is that professionals who read relevant articles on a regular basis become great networkers and develop stronger relationships within their network. Compare that to many of  Theo's peers who only ever post job vacancies, as a connection of Theo's I can vouch for the fact that he regularly posts interesting articles which A) Keep reminding me of who he is and B) Make him more interesting and valuable to me as a connection.

Another interesting tip from this is how he regularly reviews his groups and checks if he is contributing enough and whether the group is of value, I think this is a great lesson for us all (including me!)