How to Approach C-Level Executives
I’m often asked to walk into a room of CEOs, CTOs, etc… and ask for money or time or decisions. I enjoy the privilege/challenge of working with folks at this level and over the years, I have realized a few things.
Perhaps the best tip I ever received was the 10:1 rule. For every 1 minute I plan to spend with a C-Level person, I will spend 10 minutes in preparation. I will try to anticipate their questions and to boil everything down into the most concise information possible. There are a few other things I would suggest you follow if you’re going to walk into your CEO’s office tomorrow:
Top 5 Tips for Collaborating with C-Level Executives
- Prepare – Bring e’thing necessary to the table. As mentioned above, follow the 10:1 rule. Anticipate, bring only the necessary information and make sure this isn’t / wasn’t a problem you could have solved yourself.
- Yes/No – See if you can boil down any question to a “yes/no” answer. If your CEO can simply look at your data set and provide a “yes” or “no,” or pick from 1 of 3 options, they’ll love you forever and perhaps name their first-born son after you.
- DIY – See if you can accomplish the task yourself. Perhaps you are smart enough to figure it out on your own. Also, it may be something you’re willing to ask for forgiveness later vs. getting permission up front. (I don’t recommend this as a frequent practice. But, once in a while, it just makes sense to get it done.)
- Heads up – Drive by conversations aren’t a great idea. Send them or their assistant an email with a brief over view of your needs and ask for a good time to meet. (for “emergencies,” even an IM is a good idea)
- Deadline – Let them know what you need and when you need an answer.
Those few tips will earn you the respect of your superiors and they won’t mind when they see an email from your or when you walk into the room. They’ll know that you understand that time is valuable and efficiency is key.