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PCB-Dec2016

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54 The PCB Magazine • December 2016 By this time, I had experi- ence doing just about every- thing—I had worked as a di- rect sales rep, an independent rep, and as a distributor. I had managed direct sales people, distributors and rep firms. And I knew what it was like to work in the head office, but also be a regional manager working out of my apartment. Beaulieu: How and why did you start Practical Social Media Mar- keting? Johnston: In the usual way things go, I was do- ing some consulting for a PCB manufacturer in Toronto when events came together and I was offered the job of general manager. I spent sev- eral years as the GM of a PCB shop. But PCB shops were falling on hard times and the com- pany I was with was not immune. Thus, I found myself looking for what was next. Beaulieu: Why LinkedIn? How did you find your- self focusing on this area of social media? Johnston: I found LinkedIn completely by mis- take. An employee had encouraged me to join LinkedIn. So I did like most people do: I did a rudimentary job filling out my profile, connect- ed with some friends, colleagues, and custom- ers. I would log in occasionally, go look at a few LinkedIn profiles and wonder what all the fuss was about. Beaulieu: How did you get from there to being a LinkedIn guru? Johnston: Well, when I left the PCB company, I figured I should have a better look at this Linke- dIn thing and decide whether I should use it or quit it. And I think I took a day and just kind of explored the menus to see what you could do and that's when I figured out that LinkedIn was a database of all the possible B2B customers you could ever want. I did a search and found— almost six years ago, mind you—that 30,000 people in North America had LinkedIn profiles with the term "PCB" in them (today that figure is close to 140,000). I had found a sales rep's Holy Grail. This was what I had wished I had had in the field for the past 25 years. And what was apparent to me was that almost no one knew about it. That's when I knew that this was what I wanted to work with. I could teach sales- people how to use this tool to increase their sales. Beaulieu: Like so many other people who start a new company, you must have had some challenges. Can you give us some exam- ples? Johnston: Wow, that question brings back some nasty memories! Easy answer, though: no one else made that connection. LinkedIn and other social media like Facebook and Twitter had to overcome the same hurdle that other new tech- nologies had to overcome. Remember trying to talk people into the idea that everyone should have a smartphone? Or every company should have a website? Or that a company should be using this email thing? Or before that, that indi- vidual sales reps should have their own PCs? It's exactly like that. And it's going to end up the exact same way. Social media will be integral to every company's sales strategies and tactics. In a couple of years, a company that ignores social media will be looked on like a company would that doesn't use email. Clueless. Luddites. Di- nosaurs. Beaulieu: Let's talk about your company. What are some of the services you provide? Johnston: My focus is LinkedIn. If you are in B2B sales and marketing, it's the one place that your prospects are. My core services revolve around three activities: First, using LinkedIn Advanced Search capability to find exactly the right per- son or people at your target companies. The depth of LinkedIn's database, combined with the power of their advanced search, is amazing. Sitting at my desk in Toronto I have used Linke- CATCHING UP WITH LINKEDIN EXPERT BRUCE JOHNSTON

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