If you are a high-profile executive, CEO, or candidate for higher office, it’s likely you got there by being a master networker and relationship builder. Now that you have arrived as senior executives, you must view the task through a more focused lens. With more meeting requests than time in a day, VIPs strategically prioritize their time and relationships to help achieve their personal and professional goals. Here are a few networking guidelines for leaders in high demand:
Set big picture strategy and goals: In the daily bustle of professional life relationship goals are often the first to be neglected, because they often fall in the important but not urgent category. However, few if any of your important long-term goals will ever be achieved without an active investment in building relationships. Write down your relationship goals—Maybe specific buckets of people (investors, clients, competitors, etc., or also make a list of specific you want to check in with—John a lapsed major client, Susan your Chairman, your personal board of directors. A goal without a plan to achieve is just an aspiration. Goals are best achieved when they are specific and actionable. You may have a big picture objective like “increase sales” but without a plan that lays out a strategy and benchmarks, it will likely become just a wish. On a monthly basis look back and audit if your strategy is help achieving your benchmarks and if you are reaching your goals-if not make adjustments.
Utilize your gatekeepers: As a CEO, time is your most valuable resource — and effectively using your gatekeepers can help you maximize every minute. Executive Assistants, traditionally hired for administrative help, are best utilized by today’s power executives when they function as a chief of staff. Empower your EA to take on a more strategic role in managing your goals and shaping your schedule to achieve them. Getting on the same page with your EA will lead to more pertinent meetings and better results.
Maximize your meeting time: A recent article highlights how Arizona State University President Michael Crow engages in 90 meetings a week! Your job and your sanity may not dictate that pace, however we can learn from his focus and drive.
Here are a few other meeting tips:
Schedule 30-minute meeting blocks, instead of an hour.
Maximize downtime to reach out to old contacts, further new relationships.
Set up one afternoon a month to clear your scheduling backlog; plan for any overdue meetings or coffee dates that have taken a back seat to other efforts.
Keep a downtime call list. Downtime pops up for various reasons — canceled meetings, delayed flights, etc. Keep a list of telephone calls to make when it does.
Build relationships with other executives: To be successful in any industry, you need to interact with a mix of professional peers who have achieved a similar level of success as you. It helps to have a friendly relationship with other executives who understand the unique responsibility and effort it takes to run a business or lead a non-profit organization. These peer leaders will become the source for mentoring, business and career opportunities.
Turn obligations and commitments into opportunities to connect more personally: One of the challenges of being an in-demand executive is your existing relationships can feel neglected. Take professional obligations- such as work travel or a speaking engagement at a conference- and use these necessary events as opportunities to connect with small groups. Pull together your closest relationships, clients or potential clients who are also in attendance and grab dinner or a drink together. Making a point to connect with these folks in a less formal setting will keep them as key parts of your inner circle.
Chaz Cirame is the Founder of Cc: External Affairs Inc.
Cc: External Affairs, Inc. – helps corporations, trade associations, public affairs firms and non-profits develop long-term partnerships to reach and exceed their goals - be they shaping public opinion, achieving legislative outcomes, or building lasting strategic alliances.