Connecting with peers at networking events and through social media is essential in business today. A professional’s peer network is an excellent source of business information, industry news, and potential job opportunities. In addition to a person’s current sphere of influence, it’s important for professionals who want to take things to the next level to network with more experienced executives. But how can one meet senior-level professionals as they network?
Finding networking groups and joining as many as possible is the first step. Research each group, the group sponsors and the members to determine which are the best fit for you. Plan the events you will attend based on your own goals and the verticals you’re targeting. Attend as many events as possible but be selective. Prioritize events that will most likely be attended by executives you want to meet.
Before attending the events, prepare conversations topics related to the industry or recent news relevant to the executives you anticipate meeting. On the day of the event, dress professionally and be proactive. Make the first contact, shake hands with a firm grip and introduce yourself. Talk about yourself but avoid trying too hard to sell yourself. Keep the conversation casual and listen more than you speak.
Use LinkedIn to build your personal brand and connect to as many people as possible. Before reaching out to executives, be sure to check their contact policy if it's available on their profile. Once you know the best way to connect, or if they want to be contacted at all, send a personalized invitation. Use the note you send with your invitation as a way to demonstrate you are familiar with their company and their individual achievements and contributions, but be careful not to be over the top with praise or flattery.
Once connected, start a conversation. Review their profile to see what you have in common and start from there. Take time to build your relationship online. When you’re comfortable, ask for time to connect offline to learn more about their company or their line of work.
Networking with experienced executives is one of the best ways to learn and increase your career opportunities. The more you take the first step to make contact, the more your confidence will grow. Best of all, this boost in confidence will carry over to other aspects of your job and career.