Friday, May 23

Go big or go home

My friend Thom would be proud of me. I did a great networking exercise today. I've been working on it for months but it finally came to fruition this afternoon. It all started a few years ago. A few friends and I discovered that if we just boldly put ourselves on an executive's calendar, he or she would take us to lunch. It sounds presumptuous but it really works. I pretty much show up where my Blackberry tells me and so do they. Most of them spend their lunches in business meetings so the chance to relax a bit and have a less stressful lunch with an lower ranking colleague is a nice diversion.

Following my big professional conference from last Summer I decided to do the same but with friends from the conference. Part the conference was a dinner with the big executives from our division. We all sat at tables and every 20 minutes or so the executives would get up and switch tables. In this way we got some quality face time with each of them. Trouble was, the head executive of my group was unable to attend the dinner. I decided he should take a few of us to lunch to instead and he kindly agreed. After several cancellations, due to much traveling, we finally had lunch today.

Since the original lunch was set, this particular executive has been promoted and is an even bigger wig than when we first tried to get together. I pulled a few fun friends together from the conference and headed off to lunch to meet him today. Before I left, another friend asked if I had my "elevator speech" ready. (This is the one minute self promoting spiel that you're supposed to have ever ready in case you're in an elevator with a big wig.) I said "No, he's not that kind of guy." It's true. This particular executive is a much more down to earth and social person. I knew we would not be spending our lunch discussing work. I was right. In fact, when one person started steering a conversation towards a work related topic I saw our featured executive start to fade. It was just a moment then we recovered nicely. Mostly it was an entirely enjoyable get together. My favorite moment was when we were discussing favorite films. Our big wig replied "I like old school. (pause) I don't mean as a type of movie, I mean Old School the movie." I like that in an executive.

We all had a really nice time and got to know each other better. My friends officially love the guy now. He really impressed them with how approachable he was. I, of course, followed up with a thank you email. Because today was an unofficial half day he could have easily blown us off and headed home to his family at noon. I wanted to make sure he knew how much I appreciated him doing lunch with us instead. He replied right away and said he really enjoyed it. I'm so glad everyone had a good time!

We're definitely planning other executive lunches. Since I set this one up with a big wig I knew, my friends are now in charge of setting up lunches with some big wigs they know (and they better be as much fun as mine!). We're even considering making lunch plans with the CEO and CCO of our company. Like I always say "Go big or go home". The worse that can happen is one of their dozen or so assistants says no. It's worth a try though, right?

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