So you want to get to know that CEO. Great.
Do you know who he is as a person? What are his goals? What does he value most? What does he need and want?
These are all things that you need to know before you can even think about reaching out to a CEO or, as a matter of fact, to anyone.
In step 3 of the 8 Steps to Build Relationships With CEOs and Other Influential People, I will show you what you need to know before you can successfully reach out to a CEO and where you can do your research to be ready to reach out.
Know Who the CEO is
Before you can reach out, you need to know exactly who that CEO is. I will use the CEO of Fast Growing Startup AG in Zurich as an example.
Obviously, the first thing you need to know is his name. Maybe you already know it, otherwise look it up on LinkedIn. Let’s say his name is John.
The name itself is certainly not enough. How will you know what to talk about if you don’t know the needs and desires of the CEO?
You need to do some more research before you are ready to reach out and actually get a response.
1. What are 5 of the CEO’s Most Urgent Needs?
What is John struggling with? What pain points does he have that you can solve? What keeps him up at night? What is he scared about?
Focus on the problems first. Too many times, we develop solutions for problems that don’t exist and then call it a “Failed marketing campaign”, “Failed outreach” or “Unsuccessful product launch”, just because we did not uncover the urgent needs first.
Maybe his profits or revenues are not where they should be. Maybe his startup is not hiring the right people because of a lack of clear expression of his vision. Maybe he lacks of a clear strategy or maybe he has a strategy in place but is not effectively executing on it. Maybe his costs are too high.
Which of these issue can you solve or at least partially tackle?
Figure out the issues first and you are ready for the second step.
2. What are 5 of the CEO’s Most Compelling Desires?
What does John want to move towards? What goals does he have? What does he want to accomplish? What’s his vision and mission?
Now you focus on the other side of the coin, the pleasure. If you know exactly what he wants to achieve, you can figure out ways how to help him get there. This is essential if you want to connect with him.
Maybe he wants to exponentially grow his profits and revenues. Maybe he wants to build an organizations that changes the world. Maybe he wants to expand to emerging markets. Maybe he wants to decrease costs.
Figure out what he wants to move towards so you know what to talk about and what you can help him with.
These two steps are essential to complete before you even attempt to reach out to anyone. The more you know about needs & desires, the better.
Here is an interview I did with Paulo who successfully leveraged this strategy.
Research on LinkedIn
Use LinkedIn to find out what John has done in the past. Find out what organizations he has been part of. Did your career paths maybe cross at some point?
Find out what universities or business schools John attended. Are you a member of the same alumni group? Or do you know anybody who went to the same school?
Find out in what charitable causes he is involved in to find out more about his values. Check his recommendations on LinkedIn to find out more about his personality. What do other people say about him?
Check John’s endorsements on LinkedIn. What do people say he is particularly good at?
What can you read between the lines in his LinkedIn profile headline and summary?
What groups is he a member of and what does that tell you about his interests? Is he active in those groups? What kinds of discussions does he start or participate in?
Is he a member of organizations like the British Swiss Chamber of Commerce? Maybe the American Swiss Chamber of Commerce or any other?
What leaders and companies is John following?
What information does he share on LinkedIn and other social media platforms? Is he sharing articles or maybe videos of TED talks? Does he share status updates regularly? What do those things say about his interests and values?
Who is the connected to? Many times, you can see the person’s connections, even if you are not yet directly connected to them.
Do you know any of those people? What does his networks tell you about his interests and values? What kinds of people does John enjoy hanging out with? Is there somebody in your network that you could introduce him to?
Do you see how much you can find out about somebody by doing some basic research? This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Use Google to find press releases, articles, news, blog posts, media mentions and anything else you can find about him. What do other people write about John?
Is there a financial report of his company available that you could look into?
Find out if he has written any books. You will be surprised how many people write books today.
Find out if he is organizing or speaking at an event in the near future. Could you maybe meet him there?
Use Youtube to find out if John has given speeches.
In a world where personal branding is an essential piece for success in business, more and more people go into public speaking. You will never know if he gave a speech at TEDxZurich last year if you don’t search for it.
How Much Research is Enough?
Most people don’t do enough research. Then, there are a few who only do research and never actually get to the point of reaching out.
Generally, the more you know about somebody, the more opportunities open up to make the connection happen. However, don’t look for perfection.
You probably won’t find out the names of John’s kids or his favorite food on LinkedIn. The other question is if you need to know about that to successfully reach out to him for the first time. I would argue against it.
The secret is to be in the golden middle. If you feel like you know enough, stop your research and move on to the next step.
What to Do With All Your Research
Write everything down in the profile that you create for John. I use Evernote and create files for every decision marker that I am serious about reaching out to.
This especially helps if you reach out to very hard-to-reach people where it may take months before you ever talk with them.
Play Sherlock Holmes. Be curious.
If you are serious about connecting with John, you want to know what goes on in his life and business.
Once you have put together a rich file of organized information, you can dive deeper into his Urgent Needs and Compelling Desires. The more you have been reading between the lines, the easier it will be to get more detailed and eventually to reach out to John.
Download the Communication Excellence Workbook to work out all the details of the Urgent Needs and Compelling Desires.
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