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How to Befriend the Top Brass

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When I was at Turner Broadcasting, I would have lunch with the heads of each network on a monthly basis. Although they were presidents and I was just a director, they were interested in how I was leveraging the local power of our affiliates to increase ratings.

The lunches were productive, fun, and lively, something to look forward to. I gained insight on what was important to them and supported their goals with my marketing programs.

At one lunch I asked CNN’s president, ‘‘What do you think your audience isn’t getting about your network that they should know?’’ He answered, “That we break news first.” From there, I came up with a strategy to send 30-second “CNN Hot Spots” FedEx to affiliates when the network was first to cover a big story.

Today, I zero in on what is uniquely important to my clients. During a recent branding workshop with a bio medical company, I asked the owner, ‘‘What aren’t doctors understanding about your products?’’ Questions like this are what your clients and/or bosses want to hear. It means you’re taking a keen interest in their agenda, product, and future.

Many roads lead to the top. Befriending the head of the company or department and becoming a fan of his or her vision is the quickest route. It’s not about brownnosing or trying to be the teacher’s pet. It’s about being seen as integral to the company and its success.

Step One:  Find Common Interests

To make a real connection, you first have to tune in to what interests the top decision-maker at the place you’re working or business you are serving.

Step Two: Get Involved. Be Useful.

Take a 180-degree turn and stand in their shoes. What are his or her pet projects? What does he or she really want? What can you do to help?

Step Three:  Demonstrate Enthusiasm

Focused interest and enthusiasm works to create an unbreakable bond between you and the person who can most influence where you go in the company.

Step Four:  Sell Your Ideas

“When presenting ideas to decision-makers, realize that it is your responsibility to sell, not their responsibility to buy,” says Marshall Goldsmith.

Step Five:  Focus On Making A Difference

Always look to the greater good as a guide, not your own personal agenda. Don’t try to “win” or “be right.” Your suggestions should help the overall health of the organization.

As a brand strategist, I often start my client relationship at the top of the company, but over time I work with marketing and sales executives to execute the strategy. To continue to receive direction from the top, I schedule meetings with their bosses around lunch, drinks, or dinner, and on a social, friendly basis ask about their goals and how things are going. I can then translate that intelligence into smart ideas that make my clients look like stars.

You may be shaking your head thinking that you could never get or don’t even deserve a seat at the table. If so, it’s critical to believe in yourself and to know that your contributions are valuable. Cultivating this kind of confidence from deep inside of you will spur you forward.

Showing that you are a fan means becoming your own fan, first. It requires that you stay positive, find solutions, dedicate yourself to the endgame, and not give up when things get tough. Celebrate all the victories (big and small) and you’ll find your inner fan to cheerlead your own success and the success of those around you.

Robin Fisher Roffer is a leading brand strategist and reinvention specialist. Founder and CEO of Big Fish Marketing, she is the author of Make A Name For Yourself: 8 Steps Every Woman Needs To Create A Personal Brand Strategy For Success, The Fearless Fish Out Of Water: How To Succeed When You’re The Only One Like You, and Reinventing Yourself: 10 Steps To Shifting Your Career Into High Gear. Learn about her Reinvent Yourself! Workshops at http://relevanceinstitute.com/

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