Chief executive officers are masters of networking; typically their inner circle includes industry analysts, journalists, investors, clients, colleagues and business confidants.
They know how to get the job done, and more importantly, who to collaborate with to make it happen. In their position they often sit on multiple boards and are always on the hunt for the next connection who will take their company to the next level: so how can YOU be that person?
Often the best way to approach business is putting yourself in the mindset of the person you are dealing with. Imagine you’re the CEO of a large multinational corporation attending an event.
Firstly, you have a short amount of time to spare. Before attending the event, you’ve carefully mapped the motivation behind your presence from the people you need to engage with to the information you’re seeking. If you can’t strategically justify attending an event then you simply can’t justify going.
A person whom you’ve never met before approaches you. Within 30 seconds you’ve summed up what kind of person they are (CEOs are also masters in perception). You quickly discover that they are an entry-level career player. However, you are willing to give them a minute or two of your time to discern whether they will add value to your brand. You are impressed that they have the confidence to approach you.
The next two minutes is the dealmaker or breaker and it can go two ways.
The person fumbles and spills out a bunch of superfluous information, and you look at your watch as to indicate your imminent exit. This person is either too relaxed and confident or nervous and probably ill-prepared for your encounter. You graciously say your goodbye and when they push their business card in to your hand, you do not offer them one in return. That meeting ends there.
The second scenario involves a person who is adequately prepared; they know about you and your company right down to its internal structure. It is evident that they planned to initiate meeting you at this event, and this impresses you greatly.
During their 30 second elevator pitch they make one thing very clear: they can help you stay at the top. Having given the only information you’ll need to decide; they thank you for your time and indicate their exit. They do not offer their business card but you happily pass on yours. And as business etiquette dictates, only now do they hand you theirs.
You’re out the door shortly after; you do not hang around events longer than needed. Within five days, the second person sends you a follow up email and adds you to their social media channels.
As a CEO (and having a CEO mindset), you’re constantly playing a game of social poker; keeping your cards to your chest, saying the right things and always planning your next move without giving too much away. If you approach networking the same way a CEO does, you’ll be speaking their language and on their level.
Amanda Rose connects CEOs, directors, businesses, government and communities on mutually beneficial projects. She is the executive producer and host of The Business Woman radio program.
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