With the U.S. government spending on government contracts in 2021 skyrocketing to $680 billion, more and more companies are now fervently trying to get a slice of the billion-dollar metaphorical pie!
If you are also an executive in this highly-competitive field of government contracting, making your enterprise known among executive-level individuals is essential in ensuring your company’s success. And, this is where executive networking comes to play.
Merriam-Webster defines networking as “the exchange of services or information, specifically the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” In other words, networking means contacting relevant people who are willing to support you with their insights, feedback, and resources for your mutual benefit, especially professional development. Additionally, networking with many executives can grant you access to job opportunities that can level up your career.
Inevitably, emerging leaders may sometimes view networking as a dreaded activity due to several factors. For some, networking is a time-consuming effort that offers little to no rewards in the end. Networking is also frequently viewed negatively, dismissing it as a mere “political” effort by people in power or people who want more control.
But maybe, it is because these people are not yet networking smartly.
Networking, when done right, can save you from spending your precious effort and time on nonsense. Check out how executive networking can benefit your organization and scroll through!
Why is executive networking important?
Networking widens your perspective
Executive networking is a great opportunity to engage with a diverse group of people who can offer you insights to support your personal and professional development. By networking with different individuals, you open up yourself to gain valuable knowledge to help you and your organization tackle challenges and see opportunities with a fresher perspective.
Suppose think about what your group can get from networking with your contacts working in a different field than yours. In that case, you should remember this: you will always have a common ground with them.
Let’s say you are a startup company from the information technology field, and you want to forge a strong network with another key person in the medical supply industry. At a glance, you and the other executive are working in vastly different industries. Yet on a closer look, you will realize that you can offer your expertise in technology or software development service to aid your contact in streamlining their process and workflow.
As you can see, you can make more connections when you look at things from a different angle. With this mindset, your existing network can even turn into potential customers in the future too!
Executive networking establishes your reputation
As a leader trying to make a name in the overly saturated market of government contractors, you should focus on building your credibility to encourage more federal agencies to seal a deal with you!
But, how can you do that? One of the best practices in networking is constant communication with your existing network of individuals, making you more genuine, reliable, and trustworthy.
However, regularly networking with them does not mean you need to drop a “hello” and then call it a day. As a great leader, it should be your second nature to bring something of value whenever you engage with your network. You don’t always need to share groundbreaking ideas to start a discussion with them, though. Sometimes, all you have to do is actively listen to them, then offer your insights and support in response.
Networking smartly lets you influence your company’s direction—and even your market
When you connect with the right people and maintain a quality relationship with them, you will gain the power of influence.
Depending on how well-connected and trusted you are, your influence can span all your internal and external networks. If you continue to build trust and rapport with your internal contacts, your peers will trust more in your vision as a leader and your ability to manage your company. Furthermore, having a solid network among other key decision makers puts you on top of their minds whenever they decide to purchase goods or services related to what your business is offering.
Executive networking brings so much value to your professional development by encouraging a free exchange of knowledge and ideas among other business leaders. On top of that, networking also boosts your business’s growth by connecting you with potential clients, such as federal agencies, who will be interested in working with you in the future.
But, how can you network smartly with your target people? We have prepared these networking tips to set you up for success!
How do you network with a high-level executive?
As a business executive yourself, one of the best ways to start networking is by cultivating your existing professional relationships with your fellow contacts internally. Consistently reaching out to your lateral networks makes sure that you are well-informed about the current political landscape of your company, gain valuable resources and referrals, and even influence, directly or indirectly, the decisions of your organization with your vision.
1. Connect with them on a personal level
You only probably see your fellow board member in their formal attire. But you should not forget that underneath their crisp suits and blazers is a person, too! Try to learn about their hobbies and interests and see what you have in common.
Strike up a conversation, ask about their day, and eventually forge an amicable relationship with them. Be careful not to overdo it, though. Let it flow naturally.
2. Stay in touch—even outside business matters
After learning what they like to do, try to invite them to extra-curricular events. Depending on their hobbies, it can be as simple as inviting them to a company dinner or even asking them to join you for a game of golf.
You can level up the fun by going as a group, so make sure to find an activity that you and your connections will enjoy, so it’ll be worth your while too!
3. Be willing to lend a helping hand
Executive networking is a two-way street. Like we have said before, always aim to bring something of value to the table and offer your service whenever the best opportunity presents itself.
How do you network with CEOs?
Securing a harmonious work relationship with your lateral network boosts your company’s stability. On the other hand, pursuing vertical networks, such as networking with CEOs, can bolster your company’s growth like never before!
We know how daunting it is to network with these successful people. So here are six networking tips that will teach you how to be in touch with influential people, from meeting them at corporate events to forging lasting professional associations with them.
1. Scout and plan out for the best conferences
Before anything else, you should begin preparing your career calendar and start plotting out upcoming conferences, webinars, business summits, and even webinars that fit your expertise and organization’s interest!
Even though the corporate events scene has drastically changed due to the effects of the COVID-19, you can still make the most out of it by actively engaging during roundtable discussions where you can exchange insights and possibly, network with a participating CEO!
To know more about preparing yourself before a conference, here are eight networking tips for success during events!
2. Do your homework
Once you have scheduled out the networking events you are interested in, it is time to research!
For starters, you can search the event’s guest speakers, who are the industry leaders you are looking for most of the time, and see what you can learn about them online. Browse through their LinkedIn profile, business’s webpage, and other related articles and focus on knowing how they so you can see what kind of service their companies offer,
On top of that, you will also need to brush up on your knowledge about your industry. Even though you are confident that you know everything there is to know about your business, it wouldn’t hurt to do a quick lookup! To make it easier for you, we can drop a mail or two about the latest news and industry events straight to your inbox if you subscribe to our newsletter!
3. Own your personal brand
Chances are, there are also hundreds and even thousands of senior level professionals like you who are vying for the CEO’s attention. To stand above the crowd, you should focus on making a lasting impression upon your first meeting. You can try to be creative in introducing yourself, tell your business’s unique story, or even use your shared hobbies and interests with the CEO to build a personal connection with them!
In addition, remember that CEOs value their time. So be concise yet memorable in your introduction.
You don’t have to sell your products nor services at your first meeting. The most important thing is that they’ll remember you, and they’ll be open to having another session with you!
4. If you’ve successfully booked a meeting with them, set a sales pitch
These business leaders are very busy people. After you’ve secured a meeting with them, your next job is to ensure that you come equipped with a quick 30-minute pitch.
5. Be grateful
Don’t forget to express your gratitude to the CEO and involved networks for this networking opportunity after your meeting. From there, you can start nurturing your network with them.