My Serendipitous Friendship with Jon

Bumping into Jon serendipitously at an event in early 2019.

An Intimate Gathering in 2017

In April 2017, I made my way across Sandy Springs in Atlanta to a house nearby the JCC (Jewish Community Center). It was an area of town I was more than a little familiar with; I’d grown up around there, my grandparents lived there, I’d gone to school around there, and holiday dinners were spent quite literally in the neighborhood. But it wasn’t a holiday get-together I was attending that afternoon—it was a small, intimate meeting with then-Congressional candidate Jon Ossoff.

There were about 40 people at the host’s house—some of them children who’d come with parents—so it wasn’t difficult to listen to Jon speak intimately about the issues which drove him; issues like healthcare, anti-corruption, job creation, equal rights, and renewable energy opportunities. After a short speech, he took whatever questions peppered the crowd, and in a unique twist of fate, ended on my question about what opportunities he saw in making Atlanta a tech-hub and destination city. He seemed to connect with my eagerness to see the city listed among Boston, San Francisco, Austin, New York, and Seattle as a major tech hub, and recognized the opportunities we had to make it so. Afterwards, we chatted a little further and exchanged numbers to continue the conversation. 

Here, I need to give it up to my grandparents—and especially my grandmother—through whom I effectively met Jon and began our running discourse. She was instrumental in turning out Dunwoody residents for Jon’s 2017 campaign, a fact which he’s expressed gratitude for time and again. He even opened an email with such a sentiment later on (see below).

In June of that year, when Jon became the Democratic nominee for the special election in Georgia’s Sixth District, the energy was something we hadn’t felt since perhaps 2008. Ultimately, Jon would miss by a mere percentage point or two; perhaps meaningless to those living outside Georgia, but to those of us who grew up here, indicative of a larger change on the horizon. 

The Out-of-the-Blue Email in 2018

One of the big questions thereafter was what Jon would do. Would he run for GA06 again? No—he came out as a vocal supporter of now-Congresswoman Lucy McBath. Would he run for Governor? No—he left that to Stacey Abrams and I think everyone would agree that was the right decision to make. Abrams has fundamentally changed the Georgia political landscape in ways previously unseen certainly in my lifetime. Jon seemed to step back from the spotlight a little at this time, focusing I would assume on more personal life events and future plans. 

Nevertheless, he and I resumed a light dialogue after a minor time lapse. I received this email from him out of the blue in February of 2018 and subsequently scheduled a catch-up call.

The unexpected email I received from Jon in 2018.

The call wasn’t long; perhaps about 15-20 minutes. But then again, it didn’t need to be.

How Relationships Grow Through Long-Term Discourse

One of the key things I’ve learned through becoming an expert relationship-building and networking consultant is that it’s the substance that matters, not the time. So it doesn’t matter that our catch-up call was 15 minutes instead of two hours—and it didn’t matter that we don’t speak daily. One of the biggest misconceptions about great relationship-building is that you need to be in someone’s face 24/7 to see any long-term benefit. This is incorrect.

One of the key rules to understand in any relationship-building scenario is that people have a million things to do every day. Time is their most precious commodity followed closely by energy. Recognition of this is core to developing any sort of dialogue that is positive and authentic.

During our conversation, Jon and I discussed the normal things: his expression of gratitude for support in 2017, what my future goals might include, how I might be able to support him in the future, etc. No bombshell revelations, no hints at future runs for office. All I had on that level were my own theories. But the calls accomplished what they were supposed to; keeping the lines of communication open and indicating interest in future dialogue.

This would become our particular dance: running into and acknowledging each other, continuing our discourse, and then parting for some time until the next time. 

Serendipitous Meeting in 2019 and Senate Candidacy

I would bump into Jon again in April of 2019—almost two years exactly since we first met—down at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta at another event. We stood again and spoke a bit about the developing political landscape in Georgia and I asked if he might run again. He demurred a little and returned our conversation to the current event, but I thought I saw a slight glimmer in his eye. 

The next time I saw Jon wouldn’t be too far off, and there wouldn’t be any more question of what lay ahead. It was in September of 2019—at his official Senate campaign kickoff event. It included moving remarks from civil rights icon John Lewis, whom I was also humbled to meet before his passing last year.

Congratulating Jon in late 2019 at his official Senate campaign kickoff.

Jon and I spoke only for a brief few minutes—he was swarmed by people wanting to shake his hand and take his picture (in the time before Covid)—and it was important to let him do so. But in those few minutes, our continued discourse was acknowledged, our mutual hope for Georgia articulated, and, again, an expression of gratitude on his part for support and positive words.

Throughout his 2020 Senate campaign, I saw Jon at a number of events, and watched the crowds grow larger and larger. It very quickly got to the point where the lines for pictures with him were longer than I’d ever seen them, and after he’d be whisked away on his bus to hit the next stop. But every time I was there on the side, watching him take pictures with new supporters, he never failed to acknowledge me and thank me for continued support:

“Adam, great to see you! Thank you so much for coming out. How’s your grandmother? Please give her my best. Shoot me a text and we’ll catch up when things calm down.”

2020 and Looking Forward

The friendship I’ve developed with Jon over the last few years has been unique because it must appear from the outside as arms-length, but on the inside feels—and is, I believe—much more genuine. Like I said before, you don’t need to spend hours on the phone with someone to develop a truly positive and authentic relationship. There just needs to be a mutual desire to pick up each other’s call or answer each other’s email and a mutual recognition of value. Mutual—that’s always the keyword. It’s what I tell my networking clients and associates. 

Now, on the morning of Jon’s 2021 runoff election for the Senate, I find myself grateful for the somewhat unexpected way that our friendship has developed. It’s allowed me to watch his upwards trajectory and draw from it inspirational goals to emulate on my own journey.

I don’t know when next I will speak with Jon—certainly only in a moment of quiet for him after such an eventful year. But I know that it will most likely be as serendipitous as all of our previous meetings have been, a fact at which I can’t help but chuckle a little wryly.

As our friendship and dialogue continue to develop, though, I’ll always be glad I made that drive across Sandy Springs to that first intimate meeting in 2017. 

How I Went Viral by Ignoring One of the “Rules” of LinkedIn

How I Got 1.6 Million Views by Following My Instincts 📈

Resharing my post after Mubs and I updated our Zoom-branding tool, Branded Background!

Accidental Virality & a Little Experiment

In spring of this year, I was scrolling back through some of my LinkedIn posts and was floored to see that one of my posts had gone viral. Without me even realizing!

It was something I’d put up about a month prior just to get my daily quota filled (I try to post every day for consistency) and I hadn’t thought much about it afterwards.

It ended up doing more than 50K views. 😱⚡

I read and reread that post over the course of the week, trying to figure out what in the hell it was that had caused it to go so crazy. Was it the content? The formatting? The emojis (don’t laugh, those things matter!) or the hashtags?

🤔 Working over the next week, I tried a variety of things to understand what had keyed into the LinkedIn algorithm so acutely. After a few days, I began to wonder if it was something else—something which LinkedIn power-users cautioned against. So I figured why not try that and see.

I went viral again. 📈

And again. 📈📈

And again. 📈📈📈

20K, 40K, 80K, 190K views started popping up in my feed. At one point, I even did half a million views on one post!

This actually wasn’t my first time going viral on LinkedIn. But it was the first time I was doing so consistently. This time it was serious.

My first time going very viral happened just before I started running my experiment.

I racked up well over a million views over a spread of just 10-15 posts. 😯

I started to track my thesis in a spreadsheet.

Over the few months that I consistently ran the experiment, I went viral about a third of the time—I was going viral at least 2-3 times a week over a ten-week span.

It got to the point where if I didn’t  go viral, it was a little uncommon and I felt that tomorrow I’d just make it up by going viral then. 

So what was the secret to all this insane virality?

Hold your breath, because LinkedIn power-users are about to lose their shit here…

☝️ Sharing.


The LinkedIn “Rule” I Ignored to Go Viral (Again and Again)

I ignored one of the “rules” of the LinkedIn algorithm and just went with my natural instincts.

During the time I ran my little experiment, I started sharing…a lot.

A lot more than I already had been.

The spreadsheet I kept for my experiment.

Here’s why this is such a drastic statement:

Because lots of LinkedIn power-users often share tips for how to do better on LinkedIn; a lot of which have become gospel because of how the algorithm reacts—how it changes, and how it doesn’t change…

Core tactics like:

  • Text content is king.
  • Write up to the content limit.
  • Canoe-tagging is okay, even encouraged.
  • Answer every damn comment.

And towards the bottom of the pecking-order?

Share. 📈📉

Or rather, don’t share, because the algorithm (supposedly) dings you for it. 

A tip from a LinkedIn power-user I follow.

I always saw sharing listed at the very bottom, the thinking being that the algorithm smacks you for not creating your own content and suppresses your reach. (Probably a reasonable theory, but as I said, algorithms get tweaked sometimes).

And yet, that post that racked up 50K views? The one I’d just pushed out without thinking about it?

It was a share.

I just went through it, found a few points I connected with, tried to articulate how I thought about them, and shared her post into my network.

Then it spread like wildfire. 🔥

The post that racked up 55K views without me even realizing it!

Why Sharing Works So Well

🙌 Sharing is one of my favorite strategies because it’s a great way to simultaneously learn and build great relationships with the people who are creating the material you connect with.

Here’s why sharing doesn’t work for a lot of people: they’re not patient and they don’t give credit!

It’s not just sharing though; it’s sharing the right way, a key factor which I see trip people up all the time.

This is such an avoidable pitfall that it just baffles me why I continue to see this. I always give credit at the top of the post. This is key; never take credit for what isn’t yours. That kills a reputation and potential relationship before they even start.

But there is a way to successfully “piggyback” on someone else’s content without looking like a tool. In fact, I wrote all about it here. The key is, as always, humility, authenticity, & due credit.

This is precisely what I teach people how to do as the #ZeroToOneNetworker. 😉🚀

Resharing a post and trying to add some value to the original message while giving due credit.

So when it took off, it made me wonder why anyone would ever recommend against sharing on LinkedIn. Perhaps the algorithm did penalize you a little bit, but here’s my thinking:

1) We never know for sure

2) Sharing is a great way of pushing out new, high-quality content, &

3) It’s probably the best way I’ve found to build an amazing network.

Breaking 1.6 Million Views (Fairly Effortlessly)

In fact, it’s pretty much precisely how I built my tech network on Twitter, and how I built my network in the music business before that. People who follow me know that 75-80% of everything I tweet or put out is in support of someone else. Either a company I dig, a mission I believe in, or someone who I absolutely wanna see grow and succeed.

So I just started to adapt my Twitter strategy to LinkedIn and see if emulating it yielded any different results.

Now I’ll stop here and say that I don’t know if this is a “surefire” way to still go viral on LinkedIn.

In fact, I don’t think there is a “surefire” way. 

Some of my posts did 100K views. Others didn’t even break 100. There was never a guarantee. 

But it did make me reexamine the question that so many people ask (and now, amazingly, ask me) of: How do I go viral?

That’s not the right question.

The right question is: How do I build a magnetic reputation and a deep bench of allies in a concrete network?

Answer: You do it through sharing and supporting others in the right way. 👏💫 This is what I love teaching other people how to do because once you start doing it, your network takes off like a rocket. 🚀

Resharing a post and explaining how I find inspiration and value in someone else’s content.

That’s why the share tactic worked for me. Because it was something I could easily emulate from my Twitter strategy (which had also worked for me), something which people associated with my brand, and something that I could easily tweak if need be. 

Perhaps, though, the most important part of the strategy (for me, anyway) is that it allowed me to sidle close to the people whom I want(ed) to learn from in a way that was neither fanboy-ish nor self-centered. It was a way to indicate that I appreciated someone else’s mission, accomplishments, company, or character without actually having to say so. Sometimes the subtle signals are the most effective. 

In the end, my “share” posts went viral about one third of the time. Not bad at all. 

But the really amazing thing is that I ended up doing well over 1.6 MILLION post views from when I started the experiment. 

Even more intriguing to me, though, is that I still continue to see many of my LinkedIn friends continue to suggest not sharing because the algorithm dings you on it. And I absolutely understand this; their suggestions come from a place of not wanting their followers’ content to be stifled by the algorithm. So the advice does come from a good place.

But for me, that’s the exact opposite of what I found that really started to work for me. And perhaps most importantly, it’s antithetical to what worked for me elsewhere and what ultimately defines my brand as the 🚀 #ZeroToOneNetworker. Because when people 😎#LookForTheOrangeSunglasses, they know that the content won’t only be my own thoughts, but tips, experiences, & stories from other people in my network whom I also learn from.

Maybe that’s the reason that my sharing worked in the first place; because so many people are not doing it consistently. Daring to do something different—even by accident—is a great way to set yourself apart and make your content more unique.

Maybe it makes me a little different than the other LinkedIn power-users out there, but I’ll double-down and say it:

If you wanna grow your network and content, then share.

And if you really wanna grow your network, then message me and book some time with me so we can figure out how to supercharge your networking chops! ⚡💸

Share positively and consistently; always try to add something valuable and always, always give credit.

After all, I didn’t have anything to lose—do you? 😉

Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn at @adammarx13 and @Zero2OneNetwork.

And continue to 😎 #LookForTheorangeSunglasses!