How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business, with Adam Pearce and Phil Laboon
Contact building through content search — As a daily activity, I use the ‘search content’ feature in LinkedIn to grow my network. Rather than the traditional approach of waiting for LinkedIn connection recommendations, I search for the term ‘Shopify’ and set the search for content within the past 24 hours. By doing so, I get to see who is actively interested and communicating on LinkedIn with respect to my industry and make connection requests based on the relevancy of that person’s content. By doing so, I know that any posts or articles I share will be shared to a relevant audience and hence more likely to generate engagement and conversation. As a result of this practice recently, we we’re able to pitch for a £25K project via a connection request made on this basis.
As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Pearce,the co-founder and Marketing Director for one of the UK’s leading Shopify Expert agencies, Blend Commerce. Adam and his team specialise in working with high growth, mid-level brands who are aiming to drive significant revenue through online sales.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Quite honestly, my whole career has been driven by two factors:
- Being told that I cannot achieve something.
- Wanting to ‘love’ what I do.
I firmly remember sitting in a career’s class at age 16 and coming across the well polished pages of tech giant, Accenture. My career counsellor lent over my shoulder and said firmly, ‘Well Adam, I hate to tell you, but they only employ the best.’ I kept that moment firmly in my mind, and 5 years later, I left University with a first class degree in Economics and a contract as an Analyst with Accenture. Whilst I never had the chance to thank that career counsellor, I guess I should of.
In 3 great years at Accenture, I’d worked with some huge global brands, including Unilever and Barclays Bank. Whilst the experience really allowed me to get an understanding of corporate business, I needed to make more a difference. When I enrolled onto a teaching course at University and quit my job, yet again, I was met with cynicism. ‘You can’t do that!” or “What about your salary?”, were the two most common objections. Yet again, it drove me. I taught Economics and Business in a number of schools across the UK and also in Dubai, and met some wonderful young people who told me that I’d made a difference to their lives. But, after 4 years of teaching, I felt that itch. I didn’t love what I was doing anymore. To be honest, I didn’t love anything.
After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I took some time away from my career. It was a pivotal point. I realized that I’d pushed myself too hard, too fast and needed to re-balance my life. After some deep soul searching, I decided to apply for a role at small educational app start-up, working as a Business Development Manager. Being able to combine my passion for education and business was truly life changing. After then being head hunted for a directorship from the company’s competitor, it really showed me that loving what you do is about finding a route that helps you give back, but drives and challenges you everyday.
Fast forward to 2 years ago ago, I was sitting around a campfire with my good friend Peter Gardner. He’d been developing Shopify stores for a while and was getting to the stage where he needed to recruit staff. We spoke for hours about Shopify, and how his clients were getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of guidance and clarity on how to sell and market their businesses. By the time the embers died down, we’d formed a business plan. Within 3 months we’d grown our business to a team of 4. So in terms of my back story, it’s not pretty, it’s not conventional, but like so many other Shopify entrepreneurs, I’ve been able to define a prosperous future, doing what I love.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Our business was essentially formed around a campfire. We made some pretty big decisions that night, many of which have defined our success to date. Once a month, my business partner and I put together a list of strategy ideas and light the fire. We’ve really found this to be a great way to mull over our decisions and flesh out the conversations and ideas that need to be thrashed out.
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?
Just the one?! I once had an email from a US based Asian supermarket chain who wanted us to redesign their ecommerce store and manage their marketing. Due to the size of the company, I got rather over excited and didn’t read the whole of their email. When I joined the conference call, I was on camera to 5 executives of the business who looked rather confused when I started to introduce myself. One of the gentleman politely said ‘Sorry, are we ok to talk in Mandarin’. Whilst you can probably imagine, the meeting was quite short and safe to say we didn’t win the project. After re-reading the original email, the last line stated ‘Please note that we are looking for an agency who can communicate in Mandarin.’
It’s safe to say that reading, reviewing and researching opportunities became much more prevalent in my way of working!
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?
From a business revenue perspective, LinkedIn has always been a critical tool. Whilst the platform and its users has changed somewhat in the past 2 years, I’ve had some great successes with using the platform to grow our business. Specifically:
· Contact building through content search — As a daily activity, I use the ‘search content’ feature in LinkedIn to grow my network. Rather than the traditional approach of waiting for LinkedIn connection recommendations, I search for the term ‘Shopify’ and set the search for content within the past 24 hours. By doing so, I get to see who is actively interested and communicating on LinkedIn with respect to my industry and make connection requests based on the relevancy of that person’s content. By doing so, I know that any posts or articles I share will be shared to a relevant audience and hence more likely to generate engagement and conversation. As a result of this practice recently, we we’re able to pitch for a £25K project via a connection request made on this basis.
· Partner tagging in posts — As a growing business, we work with a number of larger organizations in the Shopify ecosystem. Recently, we hosted a Shopify meetup where we hosted over 60 Shopify merchants, partners and agencies. As part of this event, we invited our larger partners to sponsor the event. In terms of LinkedIn posting, we tagged our partners in posts related to the meetup, which opened up a much larger exposure on LinkedIn than would have been possible without this. As a result, I was able to connect with a number of high profile partners and potential clients who liked or engaged with the posts, and have since developed two sales pipeline partnerships from doing so.
· Article posting — One of the most overlooked assets of LinkedIn is article posting. Whilst I’m guilty of not doing this enough, posting a well thought out article on a subject matter that is of interest to potential clients is very useful. By creating articles that can be referred to from other platforms and emails, this brings potential clients and customers to LinkedIn where there most likely to interact regarding decisions on their business. By also incorporating the use contact building through content search, this also has helped us raise our profile as a business, and have us viewed as subject matter expert. As a result of one of my articles, I was invited to present at an industry conference.
· Pre-conference connection requests — When I book onto a conference or event, my next action is to search for content related to that conference. By doing so, this enables me to find other LinkedIn users who have indicated they will be in attendance, and make contact to arrange a meeting at the conference. Last year, I attended a free conference for eCommerce businesses. Prior to the event, I connected with 2 speakers from the conference via LinkedIn, arranged to meet for a coffee at the event, and as a result, secured a pitch with a large company.
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. :-)
Having worked in the past with special needs children and young adults, my long term goal is to be able to create a business model using ecommerce that would create employment for young people who face challenges in working in a conventional workplace.
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 :-)
· David Beckham — I’ve got some great eCommerce ideas for your brands and would love to have a drink with you.
· Ben Francis — Would love to talk to you about GymShark and interview you for our podcast, Shopify Across the Pond.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!
About the Author:
Phil Laboon wants to live in a world where actions speak louder than words, people shout their stories from roof tops, and where following one’s passion is the norm. As a serial entrepreneur and investor, his personal and professional life has spotlighted in hundreds of publications such as People Magazine, Rueters, Forbes, Inc, HuffingtonPost, and CBS This Morning. Phil also writes a regular, nationally syndicated column on the subject of how great leaders build great companies. When he’s not building memorable brands or launching exciting startups, you can find him backpacking exotic countries looking for new inspiration and challenges. If you would like to book Phil for an entertaining speaking engagement about inbound marketing or growing a business, he can be contacted HERE.