Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck speaks at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in San Francisco in December 2014.
Photograph by Stuart Isett — Fortune Most Powerful Women
By Caroline Fairchild
December 2, 2014

Just a few years ago, Sallie Krawcheck didn’t even have a Twitter account. Today, the former president of Bank of America Wealth Management is a top influencer on LinkedIn with nearly 800,000 followers. She also has amassed more than 27,000 followers on Twitter, far more than the vast majority of her business peers.

What spurred Krawcheck to start blogging and tweeting? Influence, said the ex-banker, who now owns global professional women’s network Ellevate, on Tuesday at the inaugural Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in San Francisco.

In 2012 when Krawcheck was rumored to be a potential next chair of the SEC, Fortune‘s Pattie Sellers asked her if she could profile her. Krawcheck replied with a simple question: “Will your article be good or bad?” Sellers’ response? “It will be balanced.”

That was when Krawcheck had a breakthrough.

“I can tell my own story on social media directly to my followers, and I don’t have to say anything bad about myself,” she told an audience of about 100 rising women leaders. “That is when I realized the power of social media. The ability to engage in conversations, to gather news and make a point of view, is fascinating.”

To be sure, Krawcheck added that leaving Wall Street helped her build her own brand as opposed to focusing on company culture. Yet building an audience on social media has been essential to her ability to become a great networker, she said.

“Know your company, know what the culture is and align to that culture. If you can’t align to that culture, get yourself out of there,” she said. “Networking is the No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business.”

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