This is one big question or issue that most of my coaching clients have when they come to me. They know that having trusted relationships are the essence of a successful career transition and a successful long term career alike.
In many cases their goal is to meet senior executives, whenever possible in person because there is no equivalent to meeting somebody face to face over coffee, lunch or dinner. It’s not just better to meet someone face to face then over the phone or LinkedIn but it’s a whole different world.
I have done the major part of all my business deals and received most of my job offers throughout my entire career over coffee, lunch or dinner. The deals were of course signed in the office or the contracts have been emailed but the decision has always been made in a more casual environment when talking between two human beings face to face.
Everybody who’s in business for a while and has to work with others (which is probably every single job today) knows how important relationships are to achieve anything.
In this article I want to share a few stories from my own career and some details on how I met with senior executives and leaders.
If we know each other for a while, you have probably heard me saying this a few times. Live events are a fantastic place to meet senior executives face to face. I have been to plenty of them myself and I can’t remember a single event where I have not either learned a lot or met great people.
I first got to know about these events a few years ago as I was working in recruitment in the Technology sector. One of my clients at that time was hosting these events and invited me.
At one of the first meetups I attended, a senior executive from a large telecoms provider in Switzerland was speaking about cloud computing and mega trends of the future.
After the speech I went to see him to shake hands and asked him what he believes will be the most impactful of these mega trends. I asked him about how his current job relates to what he was talking about during his speech and thanked him for his excellent presentation.
I did not want to take too much of his time as there was a line behind me waiting to talk to him so we exchanged business cards and agreed to keep in touch.
A week or so after the event I received an email from him. When I checked to see what he wrote to me, I noticed the email was unusual. It was actually an invitation from his Outlook calendar with some company internal short codes in the headline and text inviting me for a brainstorming session in some room in the office building.
I realized that it was probably not meant for me so I thanked him for the invitation and told him that I was already busy at that time and could not make it. He wrote back and reassured me that he mistyped the email address as one of his employees has the same first name as I have.
Interestingly, he sent me 2 more of those invitations over the coming months and I felt like this is a great way to keep in touch and craft a creative reply every time.
During the past years I have attended many of these events and met great people there. I even met one of my readers who travelled all the way from Mannheim just to get to this event.
8-People Round Table
In March 2013 I got an email from one of my readers who asked me if I would be interested in coming to Zurich to participate in a regular career meetup he organizes with other executives in his industry.
As I love these face to face events and invitation for lunches, I agreed to meet them and provide my insights and feedback on their issues and questions.
It was an amazing opportunity to meet some of the top executives and managers in this industry over a long lunch. Based on their feedback, they got a great deal of inspiration and some guidance and I learned a lot about specific issues they are facing (plus free lunch) so I see it as a win-win.
I stayed in touch with almost all of them until now to exchange ideas and our connections. These are what I call mutually beneficial relationships.
Career Excellence Meetup Zurich
A few months ago I was invited to speak at an event with 50 people in Zurich about Career Excellence Through Relationships as this is my most favorite topic (and the tag line of my business).
It was one of the most amazing experiences for me to meet so many great people in one room face to face. The air was filled with excitement and people were networking with one another for hours after my speech.
I have met some extraordinary leaders across industries and professions at this meetup and stay in touch with many of them until today.
I’m currently organizing a career fair in Switzerland for September 2013. If you are signed up at jordico.com, you will receive more details closer to that date. The main goal of the career fair is to bring international talents and international small to medium sized enterprises in Switzerland closer together.
Until now I got in contact with the Global CIO and another Senior Executive from a Fortune 200 company, a Vice President from a fast growing and international Biotech company and will meet them face to face before and during the career fair. I will most likely meet tons of more executives and leaders during my activities to gather the companies at the event.
A few months ago, I stubbled upon this organization because a business partner referred it to me and invited me to come along to the event. I can’t remember the topic but it was hosted on the campus of Clariant in Basel/Muttenz.
There were a few speakers at the event including someone from the local government in Basel, a CEO of a fast growing nano tech company and a senior executive from Clariant.
After the official part of the speech, there was an open apero (one of the reasons I love live events) and the networking part was opened. That’s how I got to shake hands with the CEO of the nano tech company and the senior executive from Clariant.
Now, you may think that because I have my own business, these opportunities came along easily for me but I can tell you, I had to create all of these opportunities myself and none of them came along by itself.
You can do the same by:
- Hosting your own event or creating a movement
- Attending live events and pro-actively get to know others
- Starting a blog that matters
- Writing for an industry magazine or blog
- Find leaders in your current network and ask them for introductions or referrals
- Conduct interviews with industry authorities and publish them to create value
I think creating such opportunities boils down to following a few principles. I follow all of them to make things happen.
1. Give First
Through my blog at jordico.com I provide a lot of valuable information, completely for free and accessible to anyone from anywhere. This is the foundation of my business and I believe to be successful in your networking efforts in your career, you have to do something similar.
Before you ever take anything, you need to give first. This is a big problem for most people who already are in career transition because it does not look like a viable strategy for short term success.
If you desperately need a job in the next 4 weeks and want to achieve this through networking, you are at the wrong place here. Building real relationships creates long lasting career success and takes time.
Of course, there are the success stories of people who get a job in less than 10 days or of my Russian Friend Who Found a Job in Switzerland in 4 Weeks but in the majority of the time, it takes longer. Realizing that is the first step towards a successful career transition.
If you keep thinking that you need a job right now, you are perceived as being desperate and nobody wants to work with people who seem to be desperate and only take.
If you really want to have a chance at finding a new job in Switzerland in 4 weeks, you need to change your mindset towards long term success. If you do that, you will not act desperate and be able to give first. This is when the opportunities start showing up because you become more interesting and valuable. There is no guarantee and it’s solely depends on you.
Start with redefining your communication through the Why-How-What Technique.
2. Provide Value
This is already a part of giving first. Whenever you do anything, ask yourself “How can I create value for the other person?”. There is always something you can provide that is valuable for others, no matter if you are just graduating or are a senior executive yourself.
Think of areas like:
- Your connections
- Your knowledge
- Timely and relevant information
- Your unique opinion and feedback from the outside
Put yourself into the other persons shoes and you will find plenty of things if you invest a little brainpower.
- Timely and relevant article
- Connecting the person you want to reach out to to somebody in your network based on something in common
- Your knowledge of a specific market, industry, customer group, etc.
- Your opinion on the future of the industry
One of my coaching clients is a legal executive from Eastern Europe and is providing his assistance to bankers in Switzerland through his knowledge. Using this approach, he is very effective in meeting people face to face and through phone calls.
Another one of my coaching clients is going through his list of most valuable connections whenever he finds a great article and sends it to them to keep in touch.
3. Be Active
I am very active with my blog, comments in the Career Network Switzerland and on other sources. Without this high level of activities, there would not be much traction.
This applies to your career transition as well. You need to be active and find an effective and efficient way to talk to people. This is a common success factor when I look at my coaching clients success stories.
I talk to over 12’000 people every month through my blog and besides that I speak with people on the phone and meet others face to face on a weekly basis.
It’s simply not enough to meet one new person online or offline per week. You need momentum and you get it by having a high level of activities following the principles here.