I have to start this article with a confession.
One year ago, I didn't even know my LinkedIn password.
Anytime I randomly logged in over the last few years it was to look at someone's job history we wanted to hire. Of course, I would get slapped by 756 messages from people wanting to sell me something.
But as serendipity would have it...
I randomly logged in last fall, and on my feed was a post by Sarah Brazier from Gong.io. Sarah shared how a VP of Sales had talked down to her. The post had hundreds of reactions and comments.
Instantly, I assumed Sarah was a famous person or a TV star.
As I read the comments, I realized she was a former actress turned SDR.
I was shocked at the amount of reach she had from one simple post.
We were flirting with starting an SDR system at Gravy, and I literally messaged her with a lump in my throat.
"Will someone this famous respond?"
"Will she think I'm just like the other 756 DMs?"
"Will it be weird for me to ask for a phone call to simply learn from her?"
To me, I was reaching out to the Queen of LinkedIn.
And pretty instantly, she hit me back with openness to connect.
After speaking with her, she helped us understand how LinkedIn worked — and why it's a good opportunity for SDRs.
So, I don't even know if Sarah knows this or not, but I went to my Co-Founder and said, "Renee, let's pay her whatever we need to get her on our team!"
Let me say this again.
Sarah did one post. Then, I saw her on one Top 25 list and, as a business owner, I'm willing to empty my pocketbooks to have her on the team after two phone calls!
Then, it got even better...
I commented on her post, and I started getting pitched to get on calls with Gong to buy their software. I obliged.
Out of the 756 other messages, I was willing to get on a call with an AE from Gong.
After the call, I looked at Renee and said, point blank: “This is it."
LinkedIn is it.
This is one of the biggest opportunities I've seen in my 12 years as an entrepreneur.
I would empty my pockets for Sarah, and I would take a random sales call.
Don’t miss this. This is the value your LinkedIn brand brings.
For your company, yes. But, ultimately, for you and your career.
You see, most companies Gravy is compared with on LinkedIn have raised more than $100M and are worth more than $1B.
We currently have 48 full-time team members. The monsters of LinkedIn have 200+.
We got asked to write this article of how we went from non-existent to a leading LinkedIn brand in seven months. It comes down to one thing...
Wanting our team members to leave Gravy better off than they came in.
This may make zero sense to you, but I've already started grown and sold three companies. I have everything I would ever want, and I've scratched the itch of wanting to be successful.
But, what does this mean to you?
Well, the number one thing I want for our people is to command their career pathway.
I want them to make more money.
I want them to be fulfilled.
I want them to leave better than they came in.
I want to raise up 10 other entrepreneurs out of Gravy who become millionaires and multiply this kind of culture in their future companies.
But I'm not some altruist to the core. I'm a red-blooded capitalist.
When I was willing to listen to Gong, it showed me the power for the company when your people build their personal brands.
But, when I was wanting to hire Brazier for top dollar, it showed me the power for YOU when you build your personal brand.
In the last few months, we have gone from struggling to hire at scale to people waiting in line to get in.
- We have reduced our recruiter budget to $0.
- We have over 6-figures in the pipeline from LinkedIn and closed another 6-figures.
- 45% of our sales calls mention "I've seen Gravy on LinkedIn."
- ACV increased 30%.
- SaaS vertical and our new product for VCs, Private Equity, Growth Equity firms was launched on LinkedIn with major traction.
- LinkedIn paid advertising is crushing because they know the brand.
I could go on and on, but here's the final stat:
- 54% of our 48-person team is in our #LinkedInInfluencer channel on slack.
I know you are like, “Ok, Casey, I get it… How the hell do you do it?”
Here is the four-step system we use internally to activate our LinkedIn culture.
1. Inspire A Shared Vision
When new hires start at Gravy, we ask them.
“While you are at Gravy, how can we help set you up to leave better off than you came in?”
We call it Aspirational Intent.
We want each person to pick a direction for their career or life and make sure Gravy can help them achieve that.
Most people are career-driven, and they want more opportunity and money in the future.
A lot of people want a specific role. We know we can’t provide everything that everyone needs, but we can train them on how to get what they want.
And we believe LinkedIn is the best place for that.
Morgan Ingram spoke with our team on building a LinkedIn brand, and he said, “If you build your brand, you won’t ever have to build a resume again.”
We align what they want with what Gravy wants.
We want to return $1B back to businesses by the end of 2023. And while they are here, we want to help them grow their brand because we also get a benefit.
We have a shared vision. Shared intent.
Nothing is more powerful than inspiring people to have a bigger vision for their future, whether it includes Gravy or not.
If your company tells you to dominate LinkedIn just for its sake, it won’t work. You know it won’t.
It will come off as forced.
Even worse, they will miss out on the organic momentum of people becoming rock stars in their niche.
2. Model The Way
I will never ask them to do something I’m not willing to do.
My goal is to set the pace and the example for how to build a genuine personal brand on LinkedIn.
I personally like getting my hands dirty and staying scrappy. I love being in the market and adding value.
3. Enable Others To Act
We have created a powerful Slack channel where we share learnings, edit each other's posts, share brand feedback, and expose opportunities.
Our only requirement is… If you are in the channel, you will add value to the channel and LinkedIn.
We don’t put rules on it.
People ask, “Do you tell people what to post?”
“Do you require people to post a certain amount?”
We simply provide a coaching community where we help each other pick a niche, ask for feedback and help each other grow as content creators and connectors.
Sometimes, I’ll add writing prompts because so many people get stuck on, “I don’t know what to say…”
So, I’ve identified 13 different types of LinkedIn post structures.
I will post one of the structures, and give them a writing prompt like, “What statistics are interesting from your role that you can share today?”
4. Encourage The Heart
Nothing is more powerful than positive feedback loops.
Every post, I personally will comment on or like if I see it. Our team jumps on each other's posts and comments and encourages them.
Not because they have to. Not because I tell them to.
But because they want to. And it starts with me.
Especially early on, you need other people in your corner as you start out because you won’t have traction.
So, we have created an internal encouragement system that positively affirms steps in the right direction.
I think about a team member named Patience. She has an “8 Mile” story, and she is the Eminem of Gravy.
She worked her way from absolutely nothing.
No pedigree. No contacts. No content. Nothing.
To this last week being quoted by Shaneé Moret, one of LinkedIn’s largest influencers.
When she started, it was only our team keeping her going, and now she has momentum.
She will end up changing her family’s future because her LinkedIn personal brand will help her command her career.You have this power, too.
We believe in the power of words to shape the futures of others. We believe in them before they believe in themselves.
And seemingly, overnight they become a star.
These four principles come from the book the Leadership Challenge.
Gravy is a leadership development company disguised as a payment success company.
This post is not revolutionary but it’s how we have done it.
And, it’s how you can do it, too. In fact, we’d love for everyone to never have to build a resume again.
We have several open positions on our team right now, and who knows? Perhaps we’ll see you in our Slack channels next.