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  • Writer's pictureRenata Bernarde

How to Network with CEOs

Episode 208 - How to Network with CEOs: A Guide for Corporate Professionals

Episode 208 - How to Network with CEOs: A Guide for Corporate Professionals

While the networking landscape has changed with the rise of digital platforms and social distancing norms, the essence of building genuine connections remains the same. It's all about authenticity, mutual respect, and valuing the opportunity to connect. In an era dominated by quick messages and fleeting digital interactions, networking remains an invaluable skill. With Christmas events around the corner, or whenever you find yourself in a room with top-level executives, you will be glad you listened to this episode!

The ability to connect with top-level executives is an invaluable skill. This journey through the nuanced art of networking is shaped by both personal experiences and the transformation of the professional landscape in the digital age. Everything I discuss in this episode, which is summarized below, you can apply to face-to-face interactions and to the way you connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, Webinars, and other virtual spaces.

Let's explore six essential strategies to help you navigate networking with CEOs and senior executives with ease and grace.

Do Your Homework

Networking isn't just about showing up; it's about showing up prepared. Executives are often impressed by individuals who've taken the time to understand their background and current endeavors. In the episode, I illustrate this with a story from a past event. This simple effort often preparing before attending can open up a conversation avenue and leave a lasting impression.

Actionable Tip: Before any networking event, set aside 10 minutes to research attendees on platforms like LinkedIn or their company profiles. Take note of shared connections, interests, or common educational backgrounds.

Stay Relaxed and Authentic

Authenticity is your golden ticket when networking with high-ranking professionals. They can sense when someone is being disingenuous. The best interactions often stem from genuine curiosity and mutual respect. In the episode I share personal experiences, which led to introductions and opened doors for me throughout my career. In fact, even as I write this blog, a former CEO I met years ago, who I continue to be in touch only by LinkedIn, has called me to introduce me to three prospect clients.

Actionable Tip: Focus on building real conversations rather than rehearsed pitches. Share personal anecdotes when relevant and show genuine interest in the stories and experiences of others.

Make a Memorable Impression

Standing out in a room full of professionals is a challenge. It's about striking a chord that resonates with the person you're talking to. I remember a story of a colleague who attended a conference and recited a quote from a book she'd recently read. Little did she know, the CEO she was talking to had penned that very book. It created an instant connection. In the episode, I share my original discomfort with standing out and how I overcame it.

Actionable Tip: Always have a few go-to stories, quotes, or experiences that you can use in conversations. These can serve as excellent icebreakers and make you more memorable.

Stay Present and Respectful

The attention span of top executives is limited due to their packed schedules. Ensuring you're engaging yet concise is key. I once witnessed an individual dive into a long-winded story, failing to notice the executive's waning interest. This made the conversation awkward and forced.

Actionable Tip: Pay close attention to verbal cues and body language. If you sense you're losing their interest, gracefully pivot or wrap up the conversation.

The Power of Association

After a meaningful conversation with an executive, you might find yourself becoming a magnet for other attendees. I noticed this years ago, and used this as another opportunity to get to know professionals and be a dependable source of information for them, but within limits, which I discuss in the episode.

Actionable Tip: Be ready to capitalize on this newfound interest. Introduce yourself confidently, and use this as an opportunity to expand your network.

Follow Up Promptly

Probably the biggest mistake I see happening all the time, is when professionals attend a webinar or an event, and never connect with other attendees afterwards on LinkedIn. Your post-event actions can solidify or break potential connections. A prompt and personalized follow-up is non-negotiable in my books.

Actionable Tip: Always refer to a specific moment or topic from your conversation in your follow-up, be it a connection request on LinkedIn with a short note, or an email. It shows genuine interest and attentiveness. I's important to assume they won't remember you, and you need to prompt that information and make life easier for your new-found connection.

I hope that you will remember these pointers next time you attend an event, be it online or face to face. With preparation, authenticity, and the right follow-up, you'll be on your way to building lasting professional relationships.


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