Networking: 11 Places to Find C Suite Executives

You want HNW individuals as clients.  Maybe you raised the stakes, seeking only UHNW individuals.  C-suite executives fit this description. The challenge is finding them.  Since they lead busy lives and realize they are everyone’s ideal prospect, they will pay for privacy.  Where do you find them?

Let us look at 11 examples of places you are likely to find a high concentration of C Suite executives.  Pitching business will likely get you either frozen out or thrown out, but you will at least be able to talk with them.

  1. First class on airplanes.  This one is obvious.  It’s been done before.  A former CEO explained when he flew, he could tell if someone was chatting him up with sales in mind.  He would pretend he was a delivery service driver who won a recognition trip for the most on time deliveries in the previous quarter.  Salespeople usually lost interest. The point is, he was willing to talk.
  2. Concierge lounge in business hotels.  You know the major hotel chains.  They often have a comfortable space behind locked doors for loyalty program guests and people booking more expensive rooms.  While in Stuttgart, Germany I overheard these two guys, probably with a defense contractor, discussing (a little too loudly) which ex general they should hire and the level of his security clearance.
  3. Graduate level business programs at top universities.  These might be weekend programs for senior executives, or they could be advanced degree programs.  Top firms send their top executives to top universities as part of continuing education.  A former CEO who went on one of these short courses, would joke he had “Fond memories of his days at Harvard.”  Those “days” were literally only days!  The college where he earned his degree was elsewhere.
  4. Luxury vacations.  Perhaps you know an advisor who knows another advisor who used this strategy.  The advisor books an extended vacation on a high-end luxury safari.  You are shoulder to shoulder with people possessing large disposable incomes.  You get to know each other on a personal level.
  5. Country clubs.  People have been buying privacy this way for years.  The most exclusive ones were almost impossible to join, but times have changed and many clubs are actively seeking members.  We have been guests at the private golf club in our area.  You see the movers and shakers in the dining room all the time.  I also saw the founder of the prestigious financial planning firm in the area.  Apparently, he is a regular.  There are lots of greetings and table hopping.
  6. Nonprofit boards.  There are many nonprofits in your area, but a few sit on top of the tree in terms of prestige.  A financial planner once referred to the hospital board as “the CEOs club.”  The art museum and the symphony probably fit into the same category.  The role of board members is primarily fundraising.  They are expected to give a lot or raise a lot of money from their circle of friends.
  7. Charity gala preparties.  Nonprofits hold big events in the spring and fall.  Basic tickets might be $250-600 a seat, but sponsorship level tickets can be 10x that number.  One of the perks of higher tier tickets is often admission to a small gathering before the actual event, where higher level donors and the event honorees can socialize and have their pictures taken by the press. 
  8. The college alumni association.  Schools are experts at cultivating donors.  They often get close to former graduates who founded their own company or climbed the corporate ladder.  Many credit the school for their success and get involved.  One of the keys to donor cultivation is getting the person back on campus.  I heard anecdotally when a major investment bank identified prospects, one of the first points of contact was through the university alumni association.
  9. Airline lounges.  No one wants to sit in the terminal waiting for their gate to open.  Airlines tell you to arrive early because getting through security might take time.  Most airlines have private clubs.  These are tiered based on loyalty level or the price of your ticket.  Like hotel lounges, these are like large living rooms.  Everyone is waiting for their flight to be called.  From our experience, everyone tends to be polite.  You can tell who wants to chat.
  10. City clubs.  We get back to paying for privacy.  On a Friday night, many people donot want to push their way up to the bar or wait for a table at a restaurant.  In Asia, where the population in cities is far greater, there is a saying: “If you want to find someplace that is not crowded, seek out someplace where you must pay for admission.”  That’s the logic of private clubs in the city.
  11. Commuter trains.  Few senior executives travel to work by helicopter.  They commute like everyone else.  A financial planner in Pennsylvania built his clientele of pharmaceutical executives by riding the commuter train into Philadelphia, sitting next to a person they thought might have potential.  When the train got into the city, they crossed the platform, rode in the opposite direction, repeating the process.  Once they were back where they started, they took the next train back into the city. You get the idea.

There are many ways you can put yourself in the company of senior executives.  The first step is getting on their radar and starting a conversation.

Related: Why Do People Prefer Doing Business with Friends?