Last week, I talked to one of my clients who is in the phase of connecting with CEOs in Switzerland. Her goal is to work at a fast growing educational organization as a marketing executive.

This inspired me to share some of the connection requests that have worked particularly well for my clients and eventually led into meetings with high profile leaders of organizations and into great career opportunities.

By the way, if you are a purpose-driven executive and want to have an extraordinary career in Switzerland, let’s talk about how.


Where to Start

If you don’t know yet who you want to connect with, make a list of 20 people who can get you where you want to go. For instance, if you want to work at a technology startup in Switzerland, you need to get to know the CEOs of those startups, investors and possibly organizers of events where these CEOs hang out.

There is a simple trick to make connecting to CEOs extremely easy. Make sure they inspire you through their work.

Why is that important?

If you list people who do not in some way inspire you through their work, meaning that what they do is aligned with your values and vision, how are you going to make an emotional connection?

If you want to connect with a CEO just for the sake of getting a job at his company, do you think you stand out or are persuasive enough to get a meeting with him? I doubt it.

By connecting with those CEOs who inspire you through their work, you can craft a compelling message because it’s no longer about you. You suddenly talk about what the CEO cares about and that’s the best reason for why he should connect to you.


Why Should the CEO Care?

Once again, if the person on your list that you want to reach out to is not inspiring you, it’s going to be very tough to build a relationship from scratch.

The first question you always need to task when you craft a connection request is why that person should care to connect with you. If your answer is something along the lines of “Because I have X years of experience” or “Because I want to work there”, you are missing the point.

If the reason is that he inspires you because he is tackling poverty through his business and that’s what’s most important to you too, you get the interest of that CEO.

If the reason is that her mission is to revolutionize the educational system and you deeply care about education and believe the system is broken and it needs to be fixed, you get the attention of that CEO.

The reason why the CEO should connect with you has to be based on what she cares about most. If that’s the foundation, she will want to talk to you.

Find out what the CEO deeply cares about and you will have the foundation for a successful connection request. Let me give you a few examples now.


1. To the CEO of a World-Famous Business School

“Hi John, I’m fascinated by how much you focus on developing responsible leaders. I believe that’s what the world needs most. I’d love to learn more about your programs and plans for your business.”


2. To the CEO of a Startup in Education

“Hi Stefan, I read about your startup XY on your blog and on I also believe that children must have a better chance for education throughout the world. I’d love to learn more about your business.”


3. To the CEO of an International Technology Company

“Hi Maria, I learned about your company from your article in Business Week and am fascinated by how you leverage technology to make people’s lives easier. I’d love to connect and learn more about your plans for the future.”


4. To the CEO of a Clean Tech Company

“Hi José, I have seen your TEDx talk from last year and it inspired me because I too believe that we can tackle many global issues by leveraging our sustainable energy better. I’d love to learn more about how you intend to make that vision come true.”


5. To the CEO of a Sustainability Consulting Firm

“Hi Carla, congratulations on making the world a better place by helping corporations develop more sustainable business models. I believe we can solve many major issues by applying CSR in our business world. I’d love to learn more about your plans.”


Taking it a Step Further

Once you are connected to those CEOs, don’t just let the chance to build a relationship fade away. Follow up.

Tell them more about what inspires you and why you believe that you share a similar vision.

If you feel that you have established enough of a relationship, you can take it to the next level and ask to meet for coffee. No formal meeting, just a casual coffee to chat about the CEOs plans, struggles and world-view. You’d be surprised how many say yes to that coffee talk if you share a similar vision and expressed that beforehand.

From that meeting, you will have enough information about his needs & desires to offer him your help to achieve his goals.

Making a sales pitch based on what you want won’t work that well. It has to be based on what the CEO needs and desires.


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