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January 22, 2010

Tips for talking to the CEO

The number one differentiator between consultants who earn great yields and those who scrape by is confidence.

Not arrogance, most of us have quite enough of that, but confidence.

The confidence required to speak directly to executive level managers, on the issues that are pertinent and important to them, and to advise them without fear or favor.

These are people just like you are. They have worked their way up the ladder just as you have, and they have a very specific background in the industry you are working with normally.

Make sure you can speak to broader issues in their industry. Not with the specifics that they have, but with a knowledge that shows you at least are conscious of their concerns.

Make the case for the value that you bring. We were recently challenged on our experience in the gas sector (which we have a lot of) I was able to confidently tell the CEO that he actually didn't need any more Gas experts. They were dripping off the walls. What he needed was experts in how to care for large scale distributed asset bases.

Make your intentions clear. CEO's, Execs and others have no problem with business. They expect that you are there because of some issue related to your hopes for revenues etcetera. It is not a bad thing to make it clear that you are looking for an opportunity to prove value for them.

Don't back away. Heads of large companies are surrounded by a sea of nodding heads. They don't need any more.

If you state a position, or state a specific course of action, then be sure of it and do not back away from it when immediately challenged. You need to be seen as a person of substance who has the experience, mettle and wisdom to help in specific areas where they do not.

That is the essence of what we do anyway isn't it? Find, create and spread leading practices, the role of a consultant. And they are talking to you because they hope you are able to do that for them.

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