Catching up with…LinkedIn Expert Bruce Johnston


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My friend and business associate Bruce Johnston was named one of the LinkedIn Thought Leaders—The USA & Canada List (100+) by Andy O’Hearn, an expert LinkedIn coach and social media analyst. When you consider that there are over 467 million LinkedIn members, being in this list of approximately 100 is a pretty big deal.

Bruce is the owner of Practical Social Media Marketing, our industry’s first and foremost social media consulting firm. His expertise is centered on LinkedIn, where he focuses most of his time teaching his clients how to greatly improve their marketing and sales efforts by fully using the power that LinkedIn can provide them.

As Bruce says, “If people are willing to do the work, LinkedIn can be an invaluable resource for growing their sales. As the saying goes, I can teach them how to fish but I can’t do the fishing for them.” Bruce sat down with me recently to  explain why LinkedIn is a much better database than yours, and why PCB salespeople must embrace social media or go the way of the dodo bird.

Dan Beaulieu: Bruce, can you tell us something about your background?

Bruce Johnston: I started in high-tech sales in 1985, working for a small manufacturer of telecom test equipment. After a couple of years selling the company’s low-end products through catalogues, I was sent to Chicago to open the company’s Midwest sales territory. It was the proverbial desk, a phone, and me all alone.

After a good stint in the Midwest, I was moved to our Atlanta HQ and tasked with building the company’s rep network across the U.S. So I found, hired and trained a dozen rep firms and went everywhere with them on sales calls. I think I have called on prospects and customers in 44 or 45 states. After a couple of years, the company was sold, so I moved back to Toronto. In Toronto, I got together with an old mentor who had a rep firm and he hired me and immediately shipped me to Vancouver! I spent a couple of years doing the now familiar “build the territory for us” routine.  Once I got the territory on solid footing, I was brought back to Toronto to start a separate division of the company. We had landed the exclusive rights to a very promising product line of local area network protocol analyzers. In four years, we went from a few people selling that product line part-time and bringing in $300,000 a year to 14 full-time staff bringing in $8 million a year. We were so successful the company we were representing bought the whole division from us and turned it into their Canadian subsidiary.

I then spent several years building the rep and distributor channels for another test equipment company based in Chicago, and after that spent several years as my own one-man rep firm.  

To read the full interview which appeared in the December 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.

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