Chi Chi Okezie guides you to networking success

The “C-suite” is defined as the upper echelon of organizations, composed of top-level leaders or “Chiefs” (the “C” in “C-suite”) of various departments. To reach this level, a lot of talent, experience and knowledge is required as well as mentors, advocates and sponsors to assist along the way. This article explores the dynamics of taking hold of your career and becoming the Chief Networking Officer (CNO) of your professional aspirations.

Title and Description

What exactly is a Chief Networking Officer? We are familiar with the CEO, who runs the organization, the CFO, who is the leader of the financial sector, and the CMO, who oversees marketing and advertising. The CNO oversees business networking activities, relationships and connections. Ideally, the CNO fosters connections, gains industry insights and enhances workplace interconnectivity and external relations whilst enabling a culture of sharing, exchange and development. It is typical for the CNO, along with their C-suite counterparts, to report to the CEO for accountability and support.

Characteristics of an Effective CNO

An effective CNO embodies traits which make them indispensable, memorable and valuable to their organizations, groups or communities. Below are a few important attributes:

  • Possesses strong work ethics
  • Understands business protocol / acumen
  • Functions with a high level of emotional intelligence (EQ)
  • Values relationship building
  • Respects and acknowledges differences
  • Embodies a growth mindset
  • Interacts well with others
  • Is a good problem-solver
  • Leads by example

Along with these traits, a CNO has a distinct personal brand. They can showcase the value they bring to their career or business and are seen as a resourceful individual, a “go-to” person or an expert in their field. They are influential and respected within their networks. Additionally, they have strong credentials which elevate their visibility and exposure, and, finally, they have a far reach and connect well with others.

Your Role as the CNO

Rather than wait for instructions, take the initiative and be assertive in your networking objectives. Being in control of your career and profession is empowering and can empower others. Another good idea is to connect with your mentor, coach or trusted colleague for support, accountability and advice.

The next step is to be diligent in creating a workable plan and setting S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals. Design a vision for your networking success and develop a road map to guide you along the way. Set milestones and offer benchmarks and metrics to evaluate your progress. Incorporate elements of self-reflection and introspection for a holistic approach. Another helpful idea is to create a strategic plan; it can range in time periods depending on your career trajectory. Make it a point to diversify your networking efforts by connecting with diverse individuals, organizations and activities. Intentionally make these functions a priority in your career and professional ambitions.

Utilize these tips and techniques to take charge of your networking endeavors. Embrace your leadership role in navigating your career and professional objectives. Align your goals with actionable steps and processes to maximize your effectiveness. Develop a network of support, which is a key contributor to your success.

Chi Chi Okezie is the owner and producer of SIMPLEnetworking, LLC, a consulting firm based in Metro Atlanta, GA, USA which specializes in business networking, diversity and inclusion. Her company was granted a Proclamation for Business Networking Day by ... (Read More)

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