How do I gain access to the C-Suite?
Everyone either wants to be the CFO or they think they need a personal relationship with the CFO or CEO to excel as a consultant.
Luckily for most of us, that’s not entirely true. Here’s why.While the C-Suite relationships may help you win work, they don’t mean a whole lot when it comes to completing a successful project.
Why? Because executives are too far removed from the day-to-day tasks to give you a ton of detailed guidance on how things work. Now if you tee up an issue with some context they certainly help clear the path with any detractors, but you normally need to engage many people to achieve a consulting project objective.
If you’re the person always name dropping the boss but don’t take the time to build relationships anyone else in the organization, your days are numbered.
Here’s another thing you need to keep in mind. Great leaders rely on their teams to make decisions and make themselves available for support as needed.
You often hear about how you need to make nice with gatekeepers (which is true), but you can’t stop there.
Why you should focus on building relationships at all levels
1. As a consultant, you depend heavily on your firm’s brand. How well you perform at the client depends on how well you navigate the many personalities while maintaining your impartial position.
2. The same holds true for building relationships within the firm. Building relationships with partners is a noble idea, but if people don’t want to work for you, it greatly compromises the odds of you making partner yourself.
3. You learn more by diversifying your relationships and the people you’re exposed to than you do by traveling in the same professional circles throughout your career.
4. Your professional (and personal if you’re lucky) network multiplies as people move around to different organizations and/or progress in their careers.
5. On a related note, you never know what your next move. You may end up working at a different company for a former colleague. A former colleague may boomerang as a new colleague where your prior relationship could come into play. You also may end up working for someone who previously held a lower title than you. These are all to give more weight to the age-old advice of not burning bridges.
6. People talk – even when you don’t know about it. The relationships you’ve already built impact the future relationships you want to build before you even know you want to build them. You ever get introduced to someone and they’ve “heard the name”? Do your part to make sure what they hear is positive.
7. It’s fun to know what else is going on in the world. Aside from all the potential benefit of building relationships, seeing what other people are doing is interesting. You might even find inspiration to jump into a career you never previously considered.
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