Thrive Global

How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Leverage employee networks” With Germain Chastel and Phil Laboon

Leverage employee networks.To maximize organic reach on LinkedIn, we have our content marketer write suggested share text and post it in Slack so that other employees can like and share the articles without having to take time away from their busy schedules to write accompanying text. This enables us to tap into multiple networks without any additional spend.

As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Germain Chastel, CEO and Founder of NewtonX, an AI-powered expert discovery platform. Germain is a graduate of Harvard Business School, and was formerly an Associate Partner with McKinsey & Company.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Absolutely — I actually embarked on this path after experiencing the same pain points that my current clients face. As a management consultant at McKinsey, I needed access to expert knowledge from C-suite executives, global influencers, and niche subject matter experts — but the companies that would provide access to these experts (specialized recruiters / expert networks) were too slow, too expensive or of poor quality. Additionally, I often needed these data and insights within tight time constraints, and no provider on the market would be able to give me the access I needed by my deadline. In this lack of efficiency, I saw a missed opportunity for automation — the industry is a perfect use case for AI today.

I founded the company in 2017 with COO Sascha Eder, who was my colleague at McKinsey, and CTO Anuja Ketan, who is an incredibly accomplished technologist. Together, we’ve built an expert discovery engine that leverages robotic process automation and a proprietary knowledge graph to connect clients with the data and insights they need.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I founded NewtonX based on a very simple principle and subsequent piece of technology: that having a searchable database of peoples’ niche, subject-matter expertise would be of value to enterprise clients. Now that we’ve built this technology, I continue to be surprised at how many internal applications we find for it. At first, we used it in the same way our clients did: if our CTO had an extremely technical question about a particular technology, we would leverage our algorithm to find someone to consult with her. Then, we realized that we were interested in hiring some of the people we used for consulting — which led us to start using our own technology for recruiting. Once that initiative proved successful, I decided to start using it for sales to do incredibly precise lead generation and prospecting. The myriad internal applications we’ve found for our own technology has by far been the most interesting aspect of launching NewtonX.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

During our seed fundraising round back in 2017, I arrived at the office of a well-known VC and was greeted by an energetic young man who I assumed was the parner I’d come to pitch. I went straight into selling mode, and gave him my full elevator pitch while we were walking to the coffee machine. Just as I was wrapping up and internally congratulating myself for a job well done, another young man came over and said, “Welcome, you have everything you need to get started? I see you’ve met our intern!”

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

LinkedIn has definitely been the best social media platform for business growth. Our client base tends to use LinkedIn often, and my co-founders and I leveraged the LinkedIn publishing tool and the LinkedIn Campaigns tool to capitalize on our professional networks and increase brand awareness.

Recently, our sales team had reached out to a prospect who hadn’t responded for over a week. When he did respond, he said he hadn’t been considering talking with us until he read the most recent article we had written on LinkedIn, and decided he’d give us a shot. The article had just shown up on his feed — we didn’t put any money behind it at all — so it was a completely free marketing/sales tactic.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. LinkedIn Publishing

My co-founders and I regularly publish data and insights in article format on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn publishing tool is great because it allows you to share analysis, thoughts, and insights directly with your network, and with the networks of people who engage with the content. I tend to publish analyses that showcase NewtonX data, but I’ve also seen colleagues leverage the publishing tool to share business insights, which helps their personal brand as well as their business’s brand.

  1. Campaigns

I use campaigns to sponsor some of the content that I publish that could be useful to our client archetype. The sponsored content shows up in the feed just like other content does, which serves as a soft sell — we’re not advertising per se, simply showing the content our clients find useful to the right people.

2. Company page updates

We have two audiences on LinkedIn: our clients and our experts. The company page is a really great tool for communicating with both, as we can show our clients that we are a fast-growing, exciting company to work with, and can show our experts examples of how their data and insights are used. I recommend that all companies, B2B and B2C, invest in their company page and keep it up to date and dynamic.

3. Leverage employee networks

To maximize organic reach on LinkedIn, we have our content marketer write suggested share text and post it in Slack so that other employees can like and share the articles without having to take time away from their busy schedules to write accompanying text. This enables us to tap into multiple networks without any additional spend.

4. Recruiting

LinkedIn is a great recruiting tool, and if you publish regularly on the platform like we do, your content can be a tool to attract top talent. We’ve had candidates say that they weren’t sure about us until they saw all of the press and articles on our company page. Your company is only as good as the people you hire, so I would cite attracting talent as one of the most important initiatives for our business growth.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe the movement that would bring about the most good to the most people would be reducing emissions and human consumption of natural resources. In tandem with this, I would love to see a greater push to reduce waste and recycle resources so that they can be used by more people around the world (from food, to clothing, to plastics waste, etc.).

I’m also really passionate about minority representation in tech, which is something I’ve written about quite a bit. This is a smaller movement, but one that I think will be highly impactful as technology becomes more and more enmeshed in our lives.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Ta-Nehisi Coates. His reporting in The Atlantic was some of the most culturally formative work I’ve ever come across. I would love to discuss politics and American history with him.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!