Do you struggle with finding the energizing & inspiring CEOs you want to work with?

Is it challenging for you to find decision makers based on the values that you want them to possess?

In this article, which is step 2 out of 8 Steps to Build Relationships With CEOs and Other Influential People, I will show you some powerful ways to find these energizing & inspiring CEOs.


Is Your Red Velvet Rope in Place?

I hope your answer is a confident and sound “Yes” because this is where it all starts. You can only find the CEOs who really want to hire you if you share the same values.

Without your filtration system in place, you don’t know who is energizing & inspiring you so you won’t be able to find them. If you don’t have it in place yet, download the Communication Excellence Workbook and implement it.

Once you have your Red Velvet Rope Policy in place, it’s going to be much easier to find the CEOs that you truly want to work with. You will be more aware of them on a daily basis and because your subconsciousness has a clear picture of who they are, it will do everything to expose you to them.


1. LinkedIn Keyword Search

With over 250 million members, LinkedIn is the largest professional network. This is where most of my clients start searching for CEOs and influencers they want to reach out to.

It’s fairly easy to search for demographics, job titles and locations.

For example, you can do a search for CEOs in Switzerland in the technology industry at organizations with 50-1000 employees and come up with lots of prospects. You can select seniority level, function, groups and many other parameters to refine your search.

However, that is not where it ends because at this stage, you only know what they do and where they work. You don’t know anything about who they are based on that search.


Why Keyword Search is Not Enough

In order to figure out if this is a CEO you want to work with or not, you need to do some basic research.

If the CEO is doing a good job in terms of branding, usually you can find out a lot about him online by doing research. However, that also means that it’s going to be more challenging to reach out to such a person because he is very much in demand.

If the CEO is not very active online, you can usually find out much less about him just by doing a simple search. However, that many times means that it’s going to be easier to reach out to that person because he is less in demand.

So my theory suggests that if you put in the work of doing your research, it’s not exponentially more challenging to reach out to Richard Branson than it is to some yet unknown rising CEO rockstar.


2. LinkedIn Related Search

This is one of my favorite search strategies on LinkedIn. It includes the “People Also Viewed” suggestions and the “People Similar to X” suggestions on the right side of people’s profiles. I usually find the most interesting people there.

So, once you have found a CEO that matches your criteria, you don’t have to go back to the search results. Simply use it as a starting point and then, one person leads to another.

The search algorithm of LinkedIn is fairly good. Many times, just by finding one person based on my keyword search, I will find 10 or 20 others who are very close to what I’m looking for through these related searches.


3. LinkedIn Groups

I am always amazed by how few people actually leverage the groups on LinkedIn. Many people simply join groups and expect something magical to happen. Then they complain that the groups are useless.

Well, how useful is it to join your local chamber of commerce and never go to a meeting?

LinkedIn groups are very powerful, if you use them the right way. In this example, we will use it to find energizing & inspiring CEOs.

First, you need to join some relevant groups. Figure out where the CEOs you want to connect with hang out. Are they in the biotech industry? Are they located in Switzerland? Are they leaders at startups?

The more you know about them, the easier it is to find the groups.

If you can’t find 50 groups where your target market hangs out, don’t worry. You don’t need 50, start with one.

Once you have joined some groups where the CEOs hang out, it’s time to engage in discussion, start your own and listen to what people have to say to find the energizing & inspiring ones.


Start Discussions

By starting discussion, you immediately position yourself as somebody important. Simply the fact that you are starting something, means that you are far more innovative than the other 95% who are only watching.

See it like a football game. There are 22 players and 50’000 spectators (without the ones behind their TVs). By starting a discussion, you become a player.

Start a discussion with “I believe” and then add your opinion on something that affects the CEOs.

You could say “I believe the #1 responsibility of a CEO is to nurture the company’s culture so it aligns with it’s vision. Do you agree or disagree?”.

You could say “Do you agree with the saying that Management does not equal Leadership?”

You could say “I just found this article from Daniel on Why People Hire You. What do you think about it?” and then attach the blog post as a reference.

See, you can do so many things in those groups to become a player.


Join Discussions

By joining discussions, you immediately get the chance to be noticed by everybody in the conversation. You immediately become a valued member if you add a comment that adds value to the conversation.

This will eventually make it a lot easier to reach out to people because some of them already know who you are. You are expressing your opinion and expertise. Therefore, they don’t just know what you do but also what you stand for, what you believe and why you do what you do.

Pick a topic that is currently discussed and express what you think or what you have experienced. Get involved in those discussions about topics you are passionate about.

If you can’t find many topics you are passionate about in a group, consider joining another one where more of those topics are discussed.

In order to have the biggest impact, you need to deeply care about the topic, which means you need to have passion for it.


Listen & Know Who is Who

By carefully listening, you notice very important things.

Who are the top contributors? What are they talking about? Are they in your target market? Are they maybe influencers in your target market? Are you passionate about the topic they are talking about?

If you know the answers to these questions, you know who to reach out to. You know who is inside of your Red Velvet Rope Policy because when people talk, they most of the time express their opinion.

Based on that, you can easily get a good feeling for if they are ideal for you or not. You don’t have to agree with everything they say. However, you have to have shared values in order for this relationship to work.

When I talked to one of my clients last week, he told me about his findings in LinkedIn groups. He joined several customer service groups on LinkedIn where his target market, customer service executives, hangs out. He had only spent a few minutes per day discussing in the groups and then immediately started to listen.

He now knows who the influencers in the group are, the ones who lead the discussions. He also knows which ones he wants to work with because of the topics they discussed and their self-expressed comment.

He researched the top 5 people in the group based on his criteria and found that many of them have written books, are blogging and have their own consulting companies. These insights make it much easier for him to reach out to these influencers now.

The influencers are not the ones who are going to hire him. However, their clients can potentially hire him, which leads us into the next point.


4. Find Referral Partners

During the first few months in my business, I neglected working with referral partners and thought I always needed to get to my clients directly. It was a big mistake to neglect building these relationships.

Referral partners are basically people or businesses who serve the same target market as you serve.

Let’s say you work with CEOs and you help them grow their business by creating and executing growth strategies. Now, your services are probably not covering all the needs those CEOs have. What else are they looking for?

Maybe it’s seminars on leadership, maybe it’s consultants who help them with clarifying their vision. Maybe the CEOs also work with executive coaches. You name it.

There are probably hundreds of other kinds of service professionals who cater to CEOs. Even though they all serve CEOs as their target market, most of them are probably not doing the exact same thing as you do. If you see them as competition only, you may lose out on a lot of business.


How to Leverage Your Competition

I don’t believe in ruthless competition. I believe every so-called competitor is a potential referral partner if they are ideal for me in terms of values. Let me give you some examples.

I help business owners in Switzerland grow their business by building relationships with decision makers and influencers.

Now, there are a lot of other people and businesses who work with business owners. I have gathered a few trusted associates who serve entrepreneurs in Switzerland and we regularly send business each others way.

Some of them even provide the same result as I do, which is helping entrepreneurs to grow their business. However, none of them does exactly what I do.

Some help entrepreneurs clarify ideas, others help them overcome limiting beliefs but none of them specifically helps entrepreneurs in Switzerland build relationships with decision makers and influencers in the way that I do.

There are endless opportunities out there for you to find these partners. Through LinkedIn groups is one of them. I have found my referral partners at events & meetups, through my blog, through their blog and through referrals from people I know and trust.


5. Newspapers & Magazines

Are you reading Forbes? Are you reading the Harvard Business Review? What local business newspapers are you reading?

These are all important sources of information for you to find the kinds of CEOs you want to work with.

Think about it. In those magazines, you can find interviews, articles written by CEOs and background stories about them. You can not only find their names in there but get a lot of insider information about them, which makes it a lot easier for you to decide if they are ideal or not.

Next time you read one of those magazines, specifically screen it for the kind of CEOs you want to work with. It does not end there.

We talked about referral partners before. Magazines are a great way to find them as well. Many of them write articles in these magazines or are interviewed if they are influential. Look out for both, the CEOs and the influencers.

What you can also find in these magazines are lists like 40 under 40 or top 100 CEOs in a specific field like startups, biotech or high-tech.


6. Conference Speakers

More and more of today’s leaders realize the power of public speaking to increase their brand awareness. They know it’s one of the most powerful ways to become known as an authority in their field.

It’s also a great source for you to find those leaders and figure out if they are within your Red Velvet Rope Policy or not.

They may be speaking at TEDx, the World Economic Forum, an industry convention or at any other of the countless meetups and events that are happening every day around the globe.

Search for past conferences on Google and find out who the speakers were. Then, search for these speakers on Youtube to find their talks.

Watching people speak is one of the most powerful ways to find out more about their personality. You can see if they are confident, energetic, passionate, optimistic, hopeful, inspiring, organized and forward-thinking. Then, you can cross reference that with your Red Velvet Rope Policy and decide if they are ideal.

All of those things and many more can be read between the lines when you see somebody speak.


7. Bestselling Books on Amazon

It’s astonishing how many leaders write and publish books today. There is nothing you can’t find. Having a book published is a great credibility builder, that’s why so many leaders do it.

It also helps you to find the leaders who take initiative and who care about their brand.

Working with CEOs who hide behind a corporate structure and a set of lawyers is usually not so much fun. It’s much more fun to work with CEOs who put themselves out there and the ones who care more about making a difference than simply cashing out after 2 years of active duty.

Go to the bestselling list on Amazon in your category. Are you doing leadership or growth strategy consulting? Great, look up who has written books about these topics on Amazon.

Then, buy a few of them and read or at least screen through them to find out more about the author, what she believes in and knows about. Read between the lines as well, that’s where you find a lot about her personality.


How to Find Likeminded Business Leaders in Switzerland

I have recently launched the Business Revolution Network Switzerland.

It’s a place where entrepreneurs and business leaders in Switzerland connect with each other to establish partnerships, do business with each other, share stories and lend a hand to other likeminded leaders.

Join the Revolution if you are a business owner in Switzerland who is making a difference.


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