Word by word script to handle chance ecounters with senior execs
Picture this. You’re walking out of your office and you spy one of your organisation’s senior executives standing in the office lobby area. This person is someone whom you’ve been trying to talk with for the past two months, without success. How you would make a positive impression with this person?
Here’s a schema to use for this interaction: 1. Get their attention – Be quick, but don’t hurry, 2. Reference who you are. 3. Have a simple message delivered in an Open – Middle – Close structure.
1.Get their attention – Be quick, but don’t hurry
This is a suggestion from John Wooden, renown U.S. college basketball coach. For our purposes, it means to get the attention of the senior executive quickly (because if you’re not quick that opportunity may pass) but once you have their attention, don’t rush.
This technique is similar to what actors are told. That is, ‘take up your cue quickly, but don’t rush your lines’.
In practice you say, eg. ‘Ian’. Once they acknowledge your greeting, you’d move toward them.
2. Reference who you are. ‘We haven’t met before – I’m Max Maguire – I’m a consultant to the bank – do you have 30 seconds?’’. 30 seconds is better than asking for a minute. Senior people will more often say yes to the 30 seconds, versus a minute, because they might think that one minute can easily turn into two, or three minutes). By the way if they say ‘No’ to your 30 second request, just respond, eg. ‘Fine, I’ll catch you another time’.
3. Have a simple message delivered in an open, middle, close structure. This means you Open the interaction (ie. by clearly stating their name). Then you pitch your idea (Middle). Then you Close the interaction.
Putting all of this together, it could run as follows:
Open: ‘ Ian’ (they acknowledge you). . . . ‘We haven’t met before, I’m Max Maguire,- I work in Enterprise Services – do you have 30 seconds?’ (pause and listen to what they say and if they say yes, proceed).
Middle: ‘I’ve been working on the X project and believe we could shave off 10% of our costs. (pause) ‘Could I send you a brief email about this idea and then follow-up with you through your EA Kristal?’ (they’ll often say ‘Yes’).
Close: ‘Fine I’ll do that’.
A caveat here is this. It’s important to share a message/ask a question that is worthy. One that you have thought through and reflected on. Something you believe the executive would be interested in. If it’s not, you may waste this pristine time with the executive – and in the future they might baulk at giving you their time.
Other questions/topics for the chance encounter include tapping an executive’s wisdom. I often use the following question:
‘What behaviour or attitude have you used in your career that’s paid off for you and because it’s paid off, you continue to use it today? Could you chisel it down to one thing?’
Your CALL to action/HOW to apply for this post: Practice the above techniques with peers in non-A class interactions. Reflect on that practice. Then, when you’ve built your confidence and technique, approach an executive with a worthy message.