At a recent workshop, a young corporate executive asked how she can approach CEOs at networking events. When I asked why a CEO, she replied that she wanted to meet the “Decision Makers”. She’s not alone. Many marketing executives eye top company executives because they are decision makers. This could be true, but it’s also true that CEOs and GMs insulate themselves from those who want to sell them products or services.
Before I offered suggestions, I asked her these questions:
1) Do you think every CEO makes decisions relevant to your objective?
2) Are you ready to approach and make a meaningful conversation with him/her?
3) Is there someone you know in that same company who knows the decision maker?
She should identify the key players in their target company’s organisational structure, but keep in mind that business is probably not going to come directly from the CEO, but from someone who knows the CEO.
Networking is about making connections and building on that. When executed professionally, it can be a prelude to a sale. However, I would advise anyone, experienced or not, to never ever try to sell at a networking event.
Some have the view that it’s better to sell from the top. Sure! It has been done. However, to get to the decision makers, one should strategically network in that direction.