Business networking for CFO 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 CFO 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.
Top Five Small Business Network Tips
It is how as a CFO 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.
I consider myself to be fairly competent at networking. Even so, I still got intimidated when I thought about how to network with senior executives at my company. I probably experienced some of the same self-doubt you have gone through:
Why would they want to build a relationship with me? I don’t work with them day to day
They are probably too busy to connect with me.
I don’t want to come across like I’m “kissing up.”
How do I ask for a meeting?
In the last few months, I learned five great tips on networking with senior executives. They have helped me authentically connect with three senior folks at my company. Conversations with them have helped build my work brand and made me appreciate how much I can learn from each of them. Here are the five tips. I hope they can help you in your career.
Tip 1: Less is more – identify which senior executives you want to network with. Look at all the senior folks in your company and choose, at most, three executives you want to network with. Focusing on building deep relationships with a few of them is better than trying to get to know all of them. Here are the criteria I used to decide who to network with.
Recommended by others you trust – Not all executives are created equal. Many people in leadership positions still only care about themselves. It’s important to find out about their reputations and then figure out which ones are genuinely interested in developing people.
Relevance to your work – Have you worked with his or her teams? It would make more logical sense to reach out for a meet and greet if there is some level of connection between your work and their sphere of influence
Gut feeling from past interactions – If you have had any direct interactions with a senior executive, then trust your gut instinct. Some will seem approachable and easy to talk to and some will seem aloof and guarded. One of the relationships I built with an executive was purely based on our informal chats in the hallway about our personal lives, travels, etc. She is now an invaluable mentor for my career.
Tip 2: Take action – Be proactive and reach out for a first meeting. This is by far the hardest tip to follow for most people. Many of us have these ideas for a long time but never actually do anything about it. Just do it! Only when you practice, will you get better at this skill. You may not always do it right, but that’s still better than doing nothing.
Start with the executive you have the most personal contact with – You will have the best chance of success with someone you already know. Not only will this interaction build your confidence, but that executive can coach you on how to approach others along with who else you should approach.
Make it a one-on-one meeting – While face to face is preferred, it is not always possible. A phone call can be just as effective. Be flexible with timing – Offer options and leave it for the executive to choose the time that works for them. Be persistent but respectful – It’s not only possible that it may take several tries before a meeting can happen, but executives are busy and may cancel on you. Don’t take any of it personally.
Tip 3: Ask for Coaching or Offer to Help – This addressed my fear about how to come across to a senior executive. The most common mistake people make in approaching executives is asking something like the following: “How do I get to senior management, like you?”. It may seem like you are complimenting the executive, but you actually come across as self serving and burdensome. Instead, you should try either of the following:
Ask for coaching and advice: This will help your career, and it naturally compliments the leader you are reaching out to. Offer to help: Askg something like, “How can I be more effective in my role as a partner of your team?” or “What can I do to improve how we do xyz?”. Neither approach is focused on climbing the career ladder. Instead, they are about reaching out to learn and become more effective at your job.
Tip 4: Prepare to Listen and Ask how to Stay Connected – If you successfully get a first meeting, you will most likely get 15 to 30 minutes to talk to him/her. Come to the meeting with, at most, 1 or 2 questions and prepare to listen. This is not about you talking their ear off about your accomplishments or perspectives. This is time to listen to their guidance and perspective. Listen and have them clarify what they are sharing with you.
Assuming the meeting goes well, finish by asking if it’s okay to reach out in a few months to reconnect. You will be able to tell from their response whether or not they want to continue the relationship.
Tip 5: Be Thankful and Follow Up – Building relationships with anyone will take more than one interaction. Just like any networking effort, it’s important to be thankful and follow up
Once you’ve had your first meeting, be sure to send a simple ‘thank you’ email or note.
More importantly, if an executive provided advice for you to follow – like ‘you should also talk to these two people on my team’ or ‘this is how you can approach the work next time’ – once you have done those things, let them know. This will help you build your reputation and relationship with them.
Last but not least, schedule a second meeting. We would like to heard your comments.
Are you networking with senior executives today? Why or why not? Have these tips helped? Share your comments and questions below.
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.
Business Networking 101 - Effective Networking Strategies
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.
Looking to start your own business to work from home?
Do you have the personality to lead or sell to others?
My name is Chaia Lewis and I'm an internet marketer with crucial information to help you answer that question. I'm going to discuss the basics of personalities, successful personality traits, and how to attain those traits.
Most advice will tell you to identify your personality and then pick your network marketing business. It's suggested that an outgoing and magnetic person will do well in Multi Level Marketing (MLM). Or if you are shy and uncomfortable selling to others, internet marketing is a better choice. And that's not bad advice, but realistically, personalities are considerably more flawed and multi-dimensional.
I have spent time with some of the most successful network marketers in the world today, and in trying to answer the above question, I came across a completely different concept. Before I reveal it, take a look at some of my personality traits I started with:
-I hated talking on the phone and all social media
-I always talked over people, and if I appeared to be listening, I was probably daydreaming or about to interrupt
-Easily distracted, struggling with efficiency and time management everyday
-Cared too much about the opinions of others
-Habitually skipped work and spent money I didn't have, i.e. completely irresponsible
-If you put me in front of too many people or a video camera, a twitchy girl would appear who apparently favored the words "um" and "like"
-I was no leader. I'd rather stay under the radar at work, which, by the way, was serving tables in a restaurant for a total of ten years because that's how much I preferred the path of least resistance.
All the advice suggested that this industry was not for me. Before you take similar advice, let's take a closer look at what a personality is. It's a set of your characteristics which endure over a long period of time. But can anything be considered permanent? The reality is, most traits in our personalities are derived from a combination of past experiences, present circumstances, and perhaps most importantly,the other personalities we surround ourselves with. For example, have you ever spent time with someone who inspired you to be more than you are? If I had the opportunity to spend a day with Steven Jobs, I guarantee the personality traits above would not be coming with me. Our personalities are also a product of what we read and watch on TV; therefore, I sold $500 worth of drama from my bookcase. As it turns out, tweaking your personality is easier than you might think when you change your environment, your influences, and your circle.
I am not, however, proposing these changes will transform you into a completely different, charming person - that's not the objective. For example, before I had access to this information, I exhausted myself looking for a business opportunity suited for me and all my flaws. And ultimately, I made my decision based on one person-one personality. He was clearly not the charismatic salesman I expected, but I could relate to this quirky character. Formally a high school dropout, his company now has members in over 200 countries. Do you see how being relatable is better than being charismatic? Are there not more socially challenged people in the world rather than smooth talkers? Eventually, as I became acquainted with my new circle, I realized the personalities of every leader were all over the spectrum with only a few common success-related traits. With such different backgrounds, how did they all end up with certain values and traits that weren't there before?
I assure you it didn't happen naturally, and it's not an easy task. In fact, the vast majority will never undergo such a change. Remember, the vast majorities don't have the income and lifestyle you are pursuing. Whether you realize it or not, if you have read this far, you most likely have these traits already. Regardless, they will lie dormant your entire life without provocation. With that in mind, the traits every successful leader acquired are as follows:
-They are committed to a process. I suggest copying the exact process of a leader you aspire to be. You cannot do better! They are consistent in that process even before they see results, because it's an educational process as well. And successful entrepreneurs are always students.
-They believe in doing the right thing. It's not about the quickest result. Help others and you will see your bank account grow, because most success achieved at the expense of another is short-lived.
-They are persistent and take charge. If you treat your business like a hobby, you will only get paid for a hobby. Take daily action as if there were a $50,000 check waiting for you upon completion.
-They are optimistic. They look for the best in everything. It's not a question of whether obstacles will come, but how many in a day. Learn to handle them.
These qualities will absolutely make you wealthy in more ways than one. However, can you incorporate them into your personality? Earlier I mentioned I had come across a different concept in spending time with successful marketers. I have not yet covered that. The reality is, you will find it impossible to attain those traits without this next key, as countless entrepreneurs have already tried with no success.
Every successful leader with the lifestyle and income that I desired had a crystal clear grasp on their Why.
It's the only way they were able to transform their personalities to achieve the desired result in their home business. This is an ancient concept, unfortunately forgotten or underestimated, and it significantly reduces failures when implemented. I elaborated on this in a separate article discussing exactly what Why is, how to discover yours, and how to use it in your business. You will find it on my authors page titled Home Business Network Marketing Success-One Key Difference Between You and Wealthy Marketers.
In short, the answer to your original question is...if it's a problem, change your personality. First, by identifying your Why. It will give you the strength to get out of your element and do something you have never done before so that you can see results you have never seen before. Look at what you surround yourself with: TV, books, music, friends, coworkers, etc. Recognize the outside elements that shape who you are, evaluate, and act accordingly.
Hopefully you now realize your personality doesn't have to be an issue, so start researching, and chose a business that will take you the direction you want to go.
Do not expect to receive benefits right away. Do volunteering work for network groups to stay visible and give back. As a responsible CFO 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 CFO 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.