LinkedInterview #7

Introduction 

My name is Steven Jones and I currently work for Ballard Dale Syree Watson which is a firm of independent Chartered Accountants, we are based out of Droitwich in Worcestershire with 5 partners and about 50 professional staff. My role is Business Development Director with responsibility for new client engagement, marketing and also the recruitment of our staff. We are a general practice who also have a specialist focus on the Healthcare and agribusiness sectors and are known for having particular expertise in the area of tax. Our clients range from micro businesses to £100 million turnover organisations.

When was your LinkedIn date of birth? 

17th January 2009

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

A really good way to keep abreast of what is happening in business both locally and nationally and an effective way of making new contacts whilst sat at your desk.

When do you login to LinkedIn and how often? 

I typically login at my desk about a half hour before I start work to have a read through the news and updates on my home page. I keep LinkedIn open all day but I will typically go back to it for another look at updates/news etc at lunchtime and again when I get home in the evening. I also run a group on LinkedIn for local businesses so I check this for new discussions and members before 8.30am every day.

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

c2000 I have quite a wide network, partly due to the nature of our business and partly because I think it is rude to not accept an invitation. The way I see it is if you were at an offline networking meeting and someone came up to you and offered you their business card. Would you ignore them and walk away? LinkedIn is no different in my opinion. That said my home feed is a valuable real estate and if a connection was clogging it up with irrelevant posts, I would have no hesitation in hiding their updates.

The type of people I will target to connect with would be specialist Recruiters because they have large and relevant networks and I also target Accountants working elsewhere so that I can keep in touch and track their career progression

What features of LinkedIn do you use most? 

I consider myself to be a fairly basic user so most of my attention is focussed on reading updates and news on my home page. I also use groups a lot to network with local businesses and keep abreast of relevant topics for some our specialist areas (agriculture, healthcare etc). I also run my own group called the Worcestershire Business Community group, I started it about 6 months ago and currently it has about 180 members. I find this is a great way to communicate and engage with the local business community. I write a blog for my company (with help from colleagues) and feed this into the group, as well as posting relevant pieces into other groups where appropriate. I keep the group very open and like to encourage participation, I don't moderate the content prior to posting because I think it can be very frustrating for someone to have to wait to see their post when they have taken the time to contribute. Obviously I would remove anything inappropriate but this hasn't been much of an issue so far.  I accept everyone who asks to join, no competitors have as yet but to be fair I can’t see any harm in letting them in, it's a community and they are valuable members of that community so they may have something useful to contribute. It was quite challenging to get things going at first but I get a real kick these from seeing the members interacting with each other and gaining real benefit from the group.

I tend not to publicise the blog through status updates because I am concerned that I might be clogging up my connections home page feed with repeated posts in different areas of LinkedIn.

I occasionally perform an advanced search to find specific people who might be relevant to a certain article of piece of information that I may want to share with them.

What is your favourite feature?

I think I would say my home page really, its proved to be a valuable source of relevant information.

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

Plenty. I can think of several clients who I originally came across on LinkedIn, some via my group or other groups, some who I have found via a search and others that I have come across in the ‘people you may know’ section and begun to engage with and over time have started to do business with them. I would never approach a potential client and directly sell to them, for me its all about a basic introduction and an invitation to connect and this gets me on their radar. We have also recruited several key staff via LinkedIn either by a direct approach or via cascading information through groups. I also received a job offer before joining here via LinkedIn.

What new features would you like to see? 

It would be cool if LinkedIn had a video chat/conferencing facility, something like Skype integrated into LinkedIn or maybe even a Skype plugin. There would need to be some good privacy controls to avoid being hassled by people but this is easily controlled on Skype so shouldn’t be a barrier. As well as individual conversations you could also set up something within a group where a time was organised for a live presentation or discussion. For example this interview could have been conducted live and others would be able to dial in and listen - all via LinkedIn

Will LinkedIn still be important in business in 2020? 

I’m really not sure, technology is a ‘fickle mistress’! Just ask MySpace or Nokia. It's hard to know what is around the corner in social media, never mind in 8 years time! 8 years ago we didn't have Twitter and LinkedIn was hardly known.

My concern is that LinkedIn becomes saturated by recruiters and too dominated by people who use it purely to get a job or fill a job. I think it's a great recruitment tool but it is far more than that and I think it is important to ensure that people are still able to use it as a networking tool.

It strikes me that the key to Steve's success with LinkedIn has been the lack of 'selling' he does on the site, despite being a Business Development Director!

Steve has spent time and effort to build relationships, share news, run a group community etc etc. This is typical of the actions of a good 'Social salesperson'.

A big thanks to Steve for taking the time to answer these questions. If you feel you have an interesting LinkedIn story to tell please get in touch at mrlinkedin.uk@gmail.com