We have all struggled with it. We are going to a party or celebration and we have to buy a gift – and the person we are buying for seems to have everything. What do we get them?
The answer is…. buy them an experience! A positive memory.
Networking (or Partnering as I like to shape it) with an executive presents the same challenge and opportunity for us. We want to meet and talk with an executive, either to strike up a partnership or potentially work at their company, but we know they have only a few moments to talk and we assume they already have a strong team and a deep network already. What do we say when we only have 120 seconds and we want to say something intelligent and memorable?
As a President/CEO over the past 17 years, I have partnered with hundreds of companies and have had many, many people approach me to partner or network. I can tell you the ones I remember (and gave the most time to) are those who come up to me with passion around a topic that I am passionate about as well. Then it becomes fun! So if you have passion about a topic, you probably are going to be confident about it. If you are confident, you can win the race to getting a little time from that executive that you are targeting, not just for a short conversation, but actually to convert that to a meeting and then hopefully a contract to work together in some way!
Take these steps to win the race:
1. RUNNERS STAND IN YOUR LANE. Targeting Companies and their Leaders.
Make a list of your target industries, target companies in that industry, the executives you are interested in meeting, and how you are connected.
2. RUNNERS TAKE YOUR MARKS. Getting ready to meet.
Before you meet, research three areas. Not only will it help in the initial interaction, but also in sending a meaningful follow-up as you will see below. If you want to make it memorable and lead to another step, do this research better than anyone else:
– Research the company
Use your online tools to research the company website for products and offerings and news and presentations. You can find board presentations and videos – listening to video enables you to also learn their lingo.
– Research the industry
Who are the players in the industry and how do their offerings and their marketing compare to your target company? What are the important trends?
– Research the individual
Find out as much as you can about the executive you may be talking with. If they have a social presence, follow them and get to know them. Identify specific individuals in your network who may be able to make an introduction, provide a referral, or just simply advice on approach.
“There will be days when I don’t know if I can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing that I have.
3. RUNNERS SET. Prepare for the Conversation
Do not network if your attitude is not rocking and rolling. You have to be ready mentally. You only get one chance with an executive or a potential partnership and you have to be confident. Do not think about partnering or networking as ‘finding a job’. It is about helping connect others, learning new things, and finding your natural next step as a leader or as a company. Even if nothing comes out of this, did you learn something about an industry and a company. Yes!
Create your elevator pitch. This should be two sentences about your skill, how you might benefit the target, and a goal statement. Remember it is not only about you, but also about what you can do for them. What is your vision for what is possible if you partner together with this executive? And because you have done research, you know that well!
Be positive. Be patient but aggressive. If it feels right, ask for their help. Above all, be authentic.
4. GO! This is it!
Here is your chance to make the conversation memorable! What do you buy the person who has everything? Answer: Buy them an experience they remember and get them talking about something you are both passionate about. If you can train yourself to network effectively, this can open up new partnerships for you and give you what you have been dreaming about all along: To take you and your company all the way to the top!
“Peak performers create their own missions. They do it first by determining what truly inspires them, and then, despite encountering obstacles, devote themselves to the pursuit.”