Community//

“Strongly encourage employees to build their professional networks” with Jonathan Wasserstrum and Phil Laboon

…we strongly encourage employees to build their professional networks. I believe every employee should strive to build something that they can take with them when they leave their company. Building a strong network helps people feel like their current role is opening new doors and supporting their career advancement. And happy employees are more productive […]



…we strongly encourage employees to build their professional networks. I believe every employee should strive to build something that they can take with them when they leave their company. Building a strong network helps people feel like their current role is opening new doors and supporting their career advancement. And happy employees are more productive and stay longer — everyone wins!

As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Wasserstrum. Jonathan is the co-founder and CEO of SquareFoot, a commercial real estate technology company based in New York. Jonathan co-founded SquareFoot in 2012, and in 2018 the team closed a $7M Series A fundraising round. Prior to SquareFoot, Jonathan earned his MBA at Columbia Business School and worked within the International Capital Group at Jones Lang LaSalle.


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

I like that real estate brings together a bit of finance, a bit of people skills, and that you can touch and feel the products. Also my mom said I’d probably like it.

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

Every day is interesting, but one moment that sticks out is when we made the decision as SquareFoot to move to NYC. We founded the company in Houston, and moving up here signaled that we were serious about making it work. I was scared and nervous about making the leap, and thankfully it’s worked out well.

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?

We wanted to run SquareFoot but the domain wasn’t available, so we went with TheSquareFoot. A few years later, we bit the bullet and bought our desired domain from the owner. There were numerous painful lessons in technical SEO and rebranding, but at least now both we and Facebook have dropping The in our origin story!

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?

SquareFoot helps growing businesses find office space, and for most of our clients the search process is owned by three or fewer people. The ability to build look-alike audiences has been a huge driver of growth through improved segmentation and delivering a more curated experience to the different types of folks that manage the office search process (e.g. CFOs, office managers, founders, etc).

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. (Soon to be) Building look-alike audiences — As CEO I’m pretty far removed from the technicalities of specific marketing channels, but we’ve seen success building look alike audiences on Facebook, and am excited about this feature soon being available on LinkedIn. The exercise of building LALs has helped us better segment our customers and craft messaging that better resonates with people.

2. Executive thought leadership — Leadership in the market, employer branding, being in front of people in new ways, etc.

3. List building for outbound marketing — We can use lists and target list we build or buy on LinkedIn

4. Using Sales Navigator to validate and qualify inbound leads — The more informed of a first conversation you can have, the better you can present your company’s unique value to solve the client’s pressing problem.

5. Encourage inter- and intra-networking — This is less related to tactical marketing and more company culture. At SquareFoot, we strongly encourage employees to build their professional networks. I believe every employee should strive to build something that they can take with them when they leave their company. Building a strong network helps people feel like their current role is opening new doors and supporting their career advancement. And happy employees are more productive and stay longer — everyone wins!

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 care about poverty. It’s really messed up when you walk on the street and we see somebody who doesn’t have a house. It breaks my heart, so any little thing I can do to help that I will. Since 2013, I have been supporting Covenant House by participating in the Real Estate Executive Sleep Out. We’ve raised more $2.4m to support Covenant House’s mission to support homeless youth.

SquareFoot has also done a few team volunteering activities, most recently at Knock Knock Give a Sock game night, where our team went to one of the missions in town to play games.

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 🙂

Sam Zell

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

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