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Meeting Your CEO?

Here's how you can create a long-lasting impression.

BY Agnes Amondi

Mar 06, 2023, 07:32 AM

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We all have an image of what a CEO is in our heads. What they look like, how they behave and how they operate. They are those super serious people in pressed suits, dolled up in make-up and high heels. They walk straight from the customized plate-numbered car through an already opened door, into the lift that opens up into oceans of office space. You get the picture.

I sat down with six such individuals in the previous month here. To be honest, they were very welcoming. I never really thought that such an opportunity would ever arise. But it did. Even better, I was in direct communication with them and they were very responsive. I think at some point I was surprised. 

So, if you ever find yourself needing to talk to a CEO (or someone operating at this level or even higher) here’s what you can do  

Make The First Move.

I know it can be very intimidating to initiate a conversation with someone who carries the title of CEO. You may think that you really need to have the biggest brains with the highest IQ points. Good on you if you actually have that. But, you really don’t need to stress about that.

Of course, being versed in the subject matter at hand is key. 
Just don’t worry about trying to outsmart them by showing off your knowledge. Listening can be more effective than what you say. Because then you are able to judge the conversation and contribute in the right ways. 
Plus, you are not trying to compete with them and you shouldn’t. That’s not why you are there in the first place.
So just reach out to them. You might be surprised that they can actually get back and share some of their time with you. Even if they don’t, at least you took the initiative to try and make something happen.

Keep Time.

Isn’t this the most obvious thing? You’ve really hustled to get their attention. Now you have it.  They have gone out of their way to fit you into their ever-busy schedule. Show some respect by keeping time. The last thing you want is to keep him or her waiting on you. It’s the worst image you want them to have of you. 
Even if they told you they’ll be playing golf (not all CEOs do this by the way) for the remainder of the day, it doesn’t matter. Your appointment has a time frame on it. Never ever be late. 
Pull all stops you can and be at least 15 if not 30 minutes early. It’s a very good way of creating rapport. And maybe, you’ll receive the next invitation if ever it comes up.

Be Prepared.

You worked so hard to get to this point. You have an appointment. When you walk into the room, you can’t get tongue-tied. You need to know where to start the conversation and what to say. OK. This doesn’t mean you craft a script and memorize it. Obviously, you’ll let the executive lead the talk at least when you first meet. Then you’ll drive the agenda. You are the one who asked for a conversation after all. 
So know when to bring up the points you have. I’d suggest that you keep it simple. 
Don’t try to get into topics you have no clear understanding of. They catch the drift pretty quickly. Also, if they are interested in small talk, they’ll surely initiate it. Just follow their lead. 

Be Efficient & Concise.

It’s an open secret that executives have no time on their hands. When you get their ear, you need to be able to move with speed. Also, you want to hit out the points that you have with the least amount of words. Don’t overload them with content. 

If you gave them a proper brief, they’ll have done their own reading. Just cut to the chase. In my case, they offered additional points which gave me more to share. I had earmarked some of these points as tertiary but they did bring them up. If that happens, good for you. If not, don’t be shy to bring them up later on.