Business networking through Peer To Peer Group is the process of developing relationships in order to enhance knowledge, increase business and expand one’s sphere of influence.
Your Peer To Peer Group network could include everyone from friends and relatives, business connections, your social network, current and previous co-workers, and members of groups to which you belong.
Business networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, attain new leads, and tell others about your business. Active networking is vital to growth.
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A company's finance director or CFO has always played a key role in the growth of the business in China. Aside from the usual finance related tasks, a demanding role is played dealing with regulators, media and overseas board of directors. This more visible and public role puts more pressure on CFOs to build executive presence. Many companies have found their growth constrained when their finance director is unable to take this role. Shielding finance directors from conferences and media sessions prevents companies from maximizing the potential of their CFO.
What is Executive Presence?
Executive presence is something that is not taught in business schools, but every successful leader has it. Top executives command people's attention when they walk into a room. When there is a crisis situation, the team turns to them for an opinion. Executives with presence are placed in high profile, high stakes roles to drive the company's reputation and business forward. Executive presence can be created by looking at it from three perspectives: executive credibility, positive image projection and executive connections.
Every company has a culture that includes norms on how to dress. The key to success is to first fit in to get ahead. For an executive working in finance, dress like a finance executive: well fitting suits in blues, grays and blacks will fit in. Conservative colored shirts - blues and whites work in every situation while some executives can carry more colorful shades like pink or lilac strips. Ties allow more room for self-expression with a mix of the above colors used on various patterns like stripes, checkerboard, dots and paisley. In finance, clients expect a safe and traditional approach to business and that is reflected in the dress-sense.
Creative executives in advertising or online marketing have a greater scope to be individualistic. Out of the box thinking can be manifested in clothing colors, and hair styles. In this type of industry, where creativity Is valued, this type of presentation is acceptable. However, even in these industries as you move up the organization, executives tend to converge to a dress-code.
Look around at industry and company norms, and dress a little smarter than is expected. As Jeffrey Fox says in his book, How to become CEO, "look sharp and be sharp". Invest in quality clothing, polish your shoes and groom your hair and fingernails. Successful executive presence starts with an executive look. The first step is to look like a confident executive. Stand out by paying close attention to the small details of personal grooming.
Positive image projection
In today's world of ever-present media, sounding good is an essential part of becoming an executive with presence. Many up-and-coming executives from technical disciplines, such as finance or IT, find this daunting. This can be due to the nature of what has made them successful. A strong focus on accuracy in numbers or minute details in coding are not the best preparation for being an outgoing charismatic executive. As executives move up the ladder into key roles, like finance director, CFO and regional roles, there is an expectation that they can handle public occasions.
A CFO needs to mix with potential clients at networking functions, present a case to regulators and handle media questions. Sounding confident, presenting concisely and managing questions are all stock-in-trade for a successful executive. This can be a big jump for many managers. So many take crash-courses in working with media or work with coaches to bolster their skills and confidence in personal expression.
Start with low-risk environments and if necessary bring in a mentor or HR partner to guide the finance executive into roles and situations where they need to stand up and present a clear message. This support is essential to create self-confidence in the executive. Small wins should be recognized and regular feedback given to the executive. Also, specific suggestions to improve their projection should be an important part of this feedback.
While executive presence can seem like an intangible quality, it is essential for a leader to influence and motivate their team. One of the greatest assets that President Bill Clinton had as a leader was his ability to make every person he spoke with feel like they were special and that he really cared about them and what was on their mind. In a world of emails, text messages and tweets, it's important to remember the power of personal connection.
Executive presence can be divided into competencies and one key competency is "connecting". Executives need to project warmth to their stakeholders and especially stay accessible to their direct reports. This can be challenging for executives from technical disciplines where the focus tends to be on task rather than people. Some executives benefit from support in self-awareness using assessment centers and 360 degree feedback from their directs, peers and managers. This shows their relative strengths and behaviors that may need further development.
For example, a finance executive who needs to develop more client relationships found that their natural preference was to focus on procedures and standards. In fact, this behavior helped them become a fantastic finance manager. The executive realized that they would never be a charismatic, super-outgoing, and life-of-the-party executive, so she decided to hold small presentations for key potential clients to introduce new and changing regulations. Her ability to simply and clearly explain these changes was greatly appreciated and lead to further business opportunities. All executives should build from their strengths to create their own unique executive presence.
While life in the executive suite focuses on business strategy and numbers, building executive presence in key roles, like CFO, is essential to maintain the reputation, credibility and success of the firm. In key and complex markets, like China, this becomes a necessity rather than a nice-to-have.
There are many benefits of business networking:
1. Increased business.
Networking is great for generation of referrals. You get high-quality referrals through networking, and much higher quality leads than other forms of marketing.
2. Strong connections.
Betruedesign networking opportunities opens the door to talk to highly influential people that you won’t otherwise be able to find easily. You have a great source of relevant connections in your network that you can call on when you need them.
3. New opportunities.
You gain opportunities like joint ventures, partnerships, business, client leads, job, speaking and writing opportunities. Active networking increases your likelihood of receiving new opportunities for business, career advancement, and personal growth. Make sure the opportunities you get involved in should align with your goals and vision.
4. Career advice and support.
You get quality advice from your network on all sorts of things related to your business or even your personal life. Networking opens the door to valuable suggestions and guidance from experts and experienced people. Your sphere of experienced peers will be able to answer even your toughest questions.
5. New ideas.
Exchanging information on challenges, experiences and goals is a key benefit of networking. Your network can be an excellent source of new perspectives and ideas. By talking to experts, you can gain insights from a different perspective. You see things in a new light.
6. Raising your profile.
Networking helps you build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person if done right. Regularly attending professional and social events will help you get noticed and advance your career.
7. Positive influence.
It’s important to surround yourself with positive, uplifting people that help you grow and thrive as a business owner.
8. More knowledge.
Networking is a great opportunity to exchange best practice knowledge, learn about the business techniques of others and stay abreast with latest industry developments.
9. Increased confidence.
By continuously putting yourself out there and meeting new people via a Peer To Peer Group, you’re stepping outside your comfort zone and building invaluable social skills and self-confidence. You get increased confidence by regularly networking and pushing yourself to talk to people you don’t know.
Strong lasting friendships tend to form as a result of networking because mostly all are like-minded business owners.
11. Satisfaction from helping others.
Business owners have problems and issues within their business that needs solving, and it’s a great satisfaction helping others.
In short networking sessions organized by Betruedesign is actually about building long-term relationships and a good reputation over time.
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