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Business networking for CEO is one of the most effective marketing and prospecting method you can use to grow your business. But if done incorrectly, it can be harmful to your business.

Business networking is a lot more than giving out business cards. It is about building trust. For CEO the networking is a lot more than meeting people. It is about connecting with the right people.

Business networking is a lot more than collecting phone numbers. It is about staying in touch, about listening, addressing needs and looking for opportunities all at the same time.

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It is how as a CEO we approach relevant business networking sessions that makes it work for us. Networking is about being authentic and genuine, building relationships and trust, and helping others. Although increased sales is the end goal, don’t participate in business networking to sell.

Build relationships and sales will follow naturally. People have to trust you before they’ll do business with you or refer you. Relationship capital is an immensely valuable part of business success. Put your energy, intention and attention on business networking.

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A Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) is also a Certified Meeting Professional CMP. The certification is offered by the Convention Industry Council. It is not easy to become a Certified Meeting Planner as the certification demands education as well as experience. The Certified Meeting Planner certification is the most prestigious certification of the meetings, conferences, symposiums and expositions industry. The certificate is awarded to only those people who have accomplished the highest level of proficiency in meeting planning. The Convention Industry Council launched the Certified Meeting Planner program in 1985.What It TakesAs has been mentioned earlier, it is not easy to become a Certified Conference Planner. Every aspirant for the certificate has to be a high-performer and very knowledgeable not only about the meeting planning process but also about corporate matters in general. They also have to be eager to understand the nuances and the art and science of meeting planning and management and enthusiastic about upgrading their existing knowledge of meeting planning. Aspirants also have to be aware of best practices and ethics in the business of meeting management and must show keenness to devise newer methods for better meeting coordination and management. The aim of the Certified Meeting Professional Certification is to enable the Certified Meeting Planner to add value to the meeting-management process, to take strategic decisions, to act ethically, and to add a new stimulus to the meeting process.The Certified Event Planner program or the certified event planner course encourages participants to continue with their education or jobs, augment their contribution to the industry, and achieve credit and recognition for their contribution across industries. The Certified Event or Meeting Planner credential is awarded on the basis of experience in industry and a tough written examination. Selection procedures are pretty rigorous. Presently, there are about 15,000 people placed in over 30 countries who have attained the Certified Meeting Planner certificate.Essential Criteria for Becoming a Certified Conference PlannerA bachelor's degree is not compulsory for the certificate but it obviously improves your chances of becoming a Certified Meeting Planner apart from increasing your demand in the job market. Aspirants must have at least three years of experience at the industrial level. All candidates are screened by the Convention Industry Council before they are allowed to sit for the examination. Candidates must score a minimum of 90 out of 150 points to be eligible to sit for the examination. The points are awarded to the candidates according to how they fare in the following categories:Management Responsibility has a maximum of 50 points allotted to it Experience in Meeting Planning has a maximum of 35 points allotted to it Professional Contribution towards Meeting Planning has a maximum of 30 points allotted to it Education and Continuing Education has a maximum of 25 points allotted to it Professional Association/Organization Memberships has a maximum of 10 points allotted to itManagement Responsibility and Experience in Meeting Planning have been given more weightage than Professional Contribution towards Meeting Planning, Education and Continuing Education and Professional Association/Organization Memberships because it is felt that these two aspects are the real indicators of whether or not a person is a capable meeting planner.The examination for Certified conference planners or certified event planners is conducted twice a year by the Convention Industry Council. Conference planners who are keen to work with the government and keen to become Certified Government Meeting Planners should take the Certified Government Meeting Professional examinations that are conducted by the Society of Government Meeting Professionals.Benefits of the CertificationA Certified Meeting Planner obviously enjoys several advantages. The Certified Meeting or Conference Planner certification brands the holder of the certificate as a professional with a lot of experience and who has displayed unique skills and who possesses a vast amount of knowledge. The certification testifies to the efficiency and authenticity of the holder. Consequently, the career prospects of a Certified Meeting or Event Planner are much better and brighter than those of ordinary meeting planners. Certified Meeting Planners have more scope to demonstrate their expertise in large symposiums and conferences as they have acquired the certified meeting planner training.A Certified Meeting Planner is instantaneously recognized by other Certified Meeting or Conference Planners who belong to an association of certified planners and who are all dedicated to the progress of the meeting planning process. A Certified Meeting Planner can obviously charge more than ordinary meeting planners and event managers for his or her services. As the certification stands for a high degree of professionalism, business intelligence and skill, a Certified Meeting Planner is stamped throughout his or her life as an extremely goal-oriented professional.

Identify which networking events you should attend. Pick groups that’ll help you achieve your goals. Find venues that make sense for your business. When you register for an event, schedule it like a meeting.
Determine how often you should be networking. How many times in a week, month, or quarter? Visit as many groups as possible.

Attend events with a plan and always try to learn something new. Prepare yourself for the event. Develop open-ended questions to ignite a conversation. Bring business cards but don’t give your business card to everyone you meet. Give cards to those who ask you for it. Try to sit with strangers. Don’t forget to mingle.

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Keep track of people you meet. Keep in touch with them and deepen your emotional connection. Establish a mutual beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients/ customers. Meet with the group members individually so you get to know them better and try to build quality connections. Consider other group members as resources. focus on the group; listen and think about how you can help them. Focus on giving. Build trust within the group.

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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.

Executive credibility

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.

Executive connections

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.

Do not expect to receive benefits right away. Do volunteering work for network groups to stay visible and give back. As a responsible CEO you must show up regularly and on time, show others how you deal with business meetings and associates. Give quality referrals and leads. If someone gives you a referral, follow up on it in a timely manner. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. Take a referral seriously.

Don’t spam on social networks. Use the platforms designed for CEO to build relationships and expand your network.

Limit self-promotion. Don’t sell. Build relationships. Be as helpful as you can. Share relevant information with others as people love to learn new things. Participate in discussions. Let others know you’re real. Be approachable. Treat your online connections just as valuable as your offline connections.