What Being Employee #36 at Salesforce Taught Me About Networking

Drew Sechrist
December 16, 2021
What Being Employee #36 at Salesforce Taught Me About Networking

When I joined the sales team at Salesforce in 1999, I was just a few years out of college. 

A longshot email to Marc Benioff landed me an account executive job, calling in to the southeastern U.S. territory from Salesforce’s headquarters in San Francisco. 

About a year later, the leadership team offered me a new territory: Silicon Valley. 

It was an enormous step up, and I took it.

I had graduated from the University of North Carolina and spent a couple years working in software and consulting in the southeast, so I had enough contacts in my original territory to get myself off the ground.

But in the Valley I hardly knew anyone. Pretty much everyone around me, including the interns, had better connections than I did. 

It was intimidating, to say the least. But then things changed. From Marc on down, Salesforce’s senior leaders opened their networks to me. They went out of their way to mine their connections and introduce me to people. 

It was totally improvised. New connections came in forwarded emails, hastily written Post-it Notes, and essentially whatever happened to pop into people’s heads.

But those warm introductions were pure gold—the foundation of a wild 10-year run, where I helped Salesforce grow from $0 to over $1 billion in revenue.

During that decade, my network got vastly better.

And then I was cut off from it all, in an instant.

At the time I left Salesforce to launch my first startup, I didn’t fully appreciate just how much of my brain lived in my email account and Org62, Salesforce’s internal implementation of its platform.

It felt like getting a lobotomy. 

This was in 2010, when LinkedIn was young and Outlook was...Outlook. All of a sudden it was very hard to get ahold of my friends and connections. As I sorted through my drawer full of old business cards, a thought crossed my mind.

Relationships are the most precious asset to any career. They are literally money in the bank. But there’s no bank to put them in. 

When Marc, Carl Schachter, and Susan St. Ledger combed through their networks looking to find opportunities for me, they were sifting through a treasure trove worth billions. But it had no home. It lived in their heads, their phones, and various email accounts and systems.

All that value was incredibly inefficient to share.

CEOs and other leaders don’t have the time to comb through their rolodexes to help one rep at a time. And other than asking them directly, there’s no good way to know who they know. You could manually click through their LinkedIn contacts, but half of their connections are essentially strangers. 

If you want to ask a well-connected colleague for an introduction, there’s no easy way to do it. Connect The Dots is changing that. Our product takes the incredible experience I had in my early days at Salesforce and makes it automatic. 

We’re making it simple for anyone inside a company—from the CEO on down—to gather their connections in one place, show colleagues who they know well, and seamlessly connect each other with the best people.

The best way for me to explain how it works is by example.

Today, I’m the CEO of a tech company that uses Connect The Dots. (For a moment, let’s just set aside the fact that my company is Connect The Dots).

Now, every employee of my company can use Connect The Dots to sift through my network, see who I know well, and ask me for an introduction or some insight about one of my contacts. And everyone at the company can do the same thing for each other. That creates an instant advantage for our sales and HR teams.

But let’s say tomorrow I have a change of heart and leave the company to be CRO at Big SaaS Company X.

When I go, I’ll keep a basic history of the people I was in touch with inside my Connect The Dots account. To be clear, all I will take away is a list of connections, their contact information, and a summary of what we talked about.The day I start my new job, I can connect my new work email to Connect The Dots and repeat the process. 

The value inside my Connect The Dots account keeps compounding. And the best part about it is that I get to keep it and share it with the companies that hire me. My time-to-value in any new role is much shorter. And if I leave a company, I’m still valuable as a node in their network. So it’s a big win-win.

The potential for this idea is enormous. We think it will permanently change the way people build and share their networks. Today, that process is slow, cumbersome, fragmented, and incomplete. We’re building the world’s largest and most complete graph of professional relationships and training AI to make it easier for the right people to find each other. That’s why we call what we do Network Intelligence. It’s not another relationship management tool. It’s not another social network.

It’s a first-of-its kind technology, built from a pure intention. To unleash and scale the incredible, untapped power of human relationships.

Have questions? Let’s talk!

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