What networking opportunities would enable me to meet CEOs, COOs, CFOs and HR Executives of small and midsize companies in NH and MA?
I find that executives are generally the contacts that most often hire me for consulting engagements, but I find it challenging to find networking events attended by people at those career levels. The process of cultivating business takes much longer when I need to build a chain of relationships up to that level. Suggestions?
They are not often at traditional networking functions except if their company is being honored or perhaps if there is a major political or business leader at the event. With most "C" suite people it's important to be a peer and not a vendor. What you could do for them is better to come up into a relationship but maybe not in the intro...
Here are 5 tips...or maybe tricks...you can try:
1) See what a target company sponsors (events) and go, there's usually execs there.
2) Volunteering (ie Rotary, Kiwanis) or work registration tables at other charity events, you'll be helping out but also get to know who is there.
3) Invite a "C" to guest speak or participate on a panel at another networking venue they might not attend but might speak at, if you are the host/lead it will demand advance conversation and create a relationship. Better still, nominate and/or give them a legitimate award or public recognition. Find a way to make a big deal of what they have done.
4) Soccer Sidelines, if you have kids, guess what, they do too...use the 3 foot rule and introduce yourself to other parents attending. After "which kid is yours?" a friendly segue into "what do you do?" is comfortable.
5) Write a paper letter (in a large envelope marked "PRIVATE") with a suggestion or better, praise of some company action or employee. A follow up is often welcome if you have provided praise or something positive (and not tried to sell what you do).
6) 7:45 am cold calling. Sure, no one likes to do this and everyone will tell you it doesn't work--unless you know how. There are no gatekeepers at 7:45 but a lot of C's are at their desk and answer their own phone. If a good sales trainer has taught you the right dialogue you may well turn it into an appointment.
It will take a little research, but find the two or three biggest Rotary, Lyons, Kiwanis and other service groups in your area. Talk to the Pres. or Sec. for each group and get invited to a meeting. Each group should have a couple people of interest to you.
I'd recommend targeting one of the four you listed, then build a profile using the Shapr app. It allows you to find high caliber people to meet with in person in your city or region. I've met over 60 professionals and nearly all of them had an amazing story and contacts. Most of the people I have met through Shapr are the high-powered executives you are seeking. Good luck!
You’ve listed at least three different types of executives (CEOs & COOs; CFOs; HR). They don’t usually congregate at the same events.
To make these connections will take much more effort than simply showing up at a networking event.
Here are three methods that worked well for me with all those groups.
Join or volunteer with a community group or charity. That might be Rotary, United Way, or the hospital fund raiser. There are many other choices. Pick one and get involved.
Contact people and ask them to be a subject for your research. You might conduct your research on behalf of your association, chamber or for your own industry report.
Develop a powerful presentation to deliver your provocative message. Create a good presentation. Offer to speak to Rotary clubs, local association chapters, networking groups and chambers.
When I worked in Boston, I joined the Mass High Technology Council, and found this a great venue for learning and networking - and yes - at the leadership level. http://www.mhtc.org/
All local Chambers of Commerce. Best and optimized route. This is where the decision makers and "C" level executives hang out.
May I suggest a couple of online tools that are highly effective. They mine the social media to come up with top influencers who you can then contact through emails. What these tools do is, cut down your time and cost to present the likeliest persons in your field.
:: https://www.leadfuze.com for mining LinkedIn
:: https://ninjaoutreach.com/ for mining Twitter & Instagram
All the best.
Here is the problem, C-levels don't typically hang out at the average Chamber or local networking event. Your challenge is in finding the opportunities that put you in front of these people, in the right circumstances, at the right time, and under the best conditions.
Impossible? No. Challenging? Yes.
I would start by doing your research. This is going to be highly targeted networking. Use Linkedin to find the executives you want to meet and to see who you know who may be directly or indirectly connected to them. Ask those people if they can make an introduction.
If that is not possible, then ask them what events the executive attends. See if you can find an opportunity to meet them at an event like a charity fundraiser or similar event. These events are usually more casual, so they probably won't be mobbed so much. I used this approach myself to land a project with a big client.
If it's at an industry event, and they are mobbed, I usually keep an eye out if they are headed to the bar and offer to buy them a drink. Another approach is to walk by casually and bring them a water, say something like, "you look like you could use some water, it must get exhausting with all these people wanting your attention."
Other approaches are to ask them to come speak at an event you are involved in or to a group you belong to. Does your chamber have an Executive Roundtable, offer to speak to them. Are there other events that executives attend regularly in your area? Try getting in on those, become a sponsor or volunteer. There are so many possibilities, you just have to be creative.
Rosanna: I highly recommend that you leverage LinkedIn and its Sales Navigator offering. I have found that I am able to identify and connect with relevant senior level executives using this method.
Chambers. and joining community, state, National and International groups. and making a speech at one of their meetings.....
Get involved with the community. Preferably with a local charity. You must believe in their cause and committed to helping them. Soliciting the CEO, CFO and COO's will be easy. Once you become known as a community corporate citizen you will be able to mingle with them at events, etc.
I can't be specific about NH or MA, because I am not there. However, I'll make some suggestions and observations.
Top execs of small firms are typically the owners. If they're solo-preneurs or smaller businesses, which are likely NOT the ideal clients for you, you will not find them much at Chamber or more Open networking events. And if they are bigger and have their own sales people, they are the ones at the vents.
If you focus on one industry, attend and/or join some industry associations -- where more of them hang out.
My best advice is to network with potential strategic partners. Strategic partners are strategic referral providers... they are people/businesses who are after the same clients as you are but do something different. Preferably they do something similar in nature (such as an interior decorator as a strategic partner with a painter). Find the right people and they can be a pipeline of referrals forever. Many businesses I work with end up having that as the only source of business and all that they need.
At the end of the day you largely can't cheat the system that we're all in.
It seems to me that at some point in the life cycle of 'x' level officers they cross the divide. They've made it - like salmon that survive the grizzly bears and now get to spawn :)
That divide is the point in their work life where they go FROM looking for people to meet TO largely avoiding people they no longer feel the need to meet.
There is no answer to your question. Every once in awhile you sit next to an x level person on a plane and enjoy the chat, and maybe something comes of it, but this is not enough to make into a strategy. This is sheer good luck.
You might eventually get to that x level person, but almost always you have to get to their 'level' by working your way thru the underlings and junior officers of the company and networking with them and working these lower levels until they hand you up OR something comes up that is worthy of the 'x-level' person's time.
YOU WANT them. They do NOT NEED you or your product. It's not equal, they have leverage. Their time is the scarce special 'thing'. You and your bits are the common 'low value commodity'.
Figuring out this inequity is how you win and maybe even rise to their level over time as you yourself become MORE SPECIAL and LESS commodity.