As getting in contact with executives and CxOs is a major part of my coaching, I would like to give you some more insights into this topic here.
A major part of the job search and career development today is building relationships. There is much information out there about building relationships but most of the time I find it to be very vague and not specific. What does it even mean to build a relationship with somebody one or more hierarchy levels above your own?
Look at it from their stand point
When you do build relationships with executives and CxOs, it is important that you step into their shoes. Look at the situation from their perspective. Now imagine that you are an executive and that somebody sends you a message about their job search. They are trying to sell themselves in the initial message by mentioning their skills and experience. Be honest, how do you feel when you get such a message? Do you see the real value in it? I believe the sender of the message needs to take another approach.
What do executives need? How can you provide value?
I don’t think that they need somebody, messaging them about how great they are and what they have done by now. I believe they want to know WHY they should hire you and WHY you will make a difference within their organization.
1. Find similarities
This can be anything. It can be the same nationality, have worked at the same company, golf as a hobby or a passion for Koi Fish. It has never been easier to find out everything about somebody than with todays tools. There is no excuse anymore for not doing the proper research.
2. Gathering personal information
In this step you want to know everything. Research what the person has done in the past through LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, News, Publications, Speeches, etc. Everything is out there.
Of course you won’t find out everything about everybody and some people might not even be on LinkedIn or Twitter. So what? Do as much research as you can on people you want to get to know and leave the rest for now.
3. Gathering company information
The next step is to find information about the company and the department. What is the company up to? Where are they heading? Are they opening a new region or did they just recently do so?
Also do the research about the department. Maybe you know somebody who is working within the company. If you don’t, it is about time that you do. Get in touch with your peers at the companies you are targeting and find out more about everything that is going on in there.
4. Organizing the information
LinkedIn has a very neat function to save your contacts into groups, even if they are not connected to you. You can add notes to every profile, make use of that. Put the company information and personal information together. How about drawing an organizational chart for yourself to have a better overview?
Once you went through these steps, it is time to connect with and contact the people.
Answering the WHY
There is a fantastic video from Simon Sinek on Youtube. He explains WHY some companies and some leaders seem to do the same work but have completely different results. I highly suggest you watch it and adapt it to your messaging.
I mentioned how to connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn here and you can use this approach to do the initial connection.
After you are connected, send out your initial message. In this example you are in sales and contacting an executive in sales or business development It could look something like this:
I have been reading about company’s XY success with opening new markets, especially Switzerland and Spain. From what I heard this project is within your responsibility. Congratulations to the great success you had by now.
I have been involved in a similar undertaking when company YZ was expanding to Spain and I was responsible for the lead. We were able to break into this new market with much success. As you probably know, Spain is a very different market from the UK. We struggled initially to adapt to the new market conditions and the cultural difference but because of my long-term experience within this market and my background as a Spanish national myself, we were able to adjust quickly.
If there is anything I can do to help you with your market opening in Spain through my experience or my connections, just let me know.
I wish you a successful week.
How does that sound for a change? Do you see the value that the person receiving this message gets? Only very few people ever take the initiative to leverage this approach. It takes bravery and persistence, this is why it works.
Follow up message
If you do not hear from that person within 1-2 weeks I highly suggest you send a follow-up message. Why do you even send a follow-up? Try to do it to provide even more value and not just for the sake of you wanting something from them.
If you are already connected, you can gather the email address from the LinkedIn profile or you can also send the follow-up message through LinkedIn.
In your message, use more recent events (news, project updates, etc.) than the ones that you used in your initial message. Say something about the progress of their work. Don’t be pushy.
The biggest impact you can have in your follow-up, is, if you include something of great value. This can be an article to a specific issue you faced when you worked on a similar project or an introduction to a connection of yours who could be of help. It could also be a link to your report about the project (if this can be shared in public) or anything else that can help the other person to get closer to their goal.
If you decide to use this strategy, share your experience here or email me!