Webinar Recording: How Leaders Network

Webinar Recording: How Leaders Network for IESE Business School Alumni Learning Program

Here is the full recording of the How Leaders Network webinar from February 9th for the IESE Alumni community.  We had 520 people connected to the zoom call, and some great questions.  We didn’t get round to answering all of the questions, so I have taken some time to give full answers here in this post.

The session is available here for IESE Alumni.

The slides from the session are available here:

Networking Resources on this blog

Questions and My Answers from the Webinar

“There are various levels of ‘networking’ from your close friend to the professional contact with whom you have met a couple of times at an event. How should each of them be managed?” Klaus

I’d say that each of us has 10 people who are family/close friends, 20 friends we see irregularly, 200 acquaintances that we have had an opportunity to share some experience together and 7.7 billion people with whom we have no real connection.

I remember a conference where Verne Harnish gave a keynote about high growth entrepreneurs. He recommended a strategy of making a 3 lists – 20 VIP, 30 important and 200 valuable.  The 20 Very Important people in your network you would proactively seek to help them each week…  one suggestion I heard back then was to do a google alert for the name of the person – and every time their name is mentioned in the press or around the web you will be notified.

Personally, I don’t deliberately “manage” my network.  When I travel to a city I will often look up a couple of people and see if they could meet for a drink or coffee.  When I am at one of IESE campus around the world I take some time to wander the corridors and say hello or have a coffee with professors and staff.  I have 2 seats at FC Barcelona and I will reach out to people to invite them to come to the game… this can be a powerful second step in building a relationship around a shared passion (football).

My father has been on the boards of an orchestra, an opera festival, 3 public companies, 2 universities…  The orchestra and the opera festival create wonderful moments that he can connect with people – he invites many people to these musical events, he asks people to sponsor musicians, he asks friends to come to operas…

I would suggest that rather than “managing” a network – you create opportunities around things that you have a passion for.  Get involved in music or culture or galleries or politics… anything that gives you a reason to ask others for help for a cause that is bigger than you.

“How can we network in a digital world where you cannot meet or have lunch together?” José P.

Zoom is a powerful tool. I’ve used it extensively to have 20 minute conversations over the last 11 months. It is actually more effective than meeting for coffee for an initial chat – we both save on time to travel to a location. We can go straight to conversation. Covid has made it completely acceptable to have video calls.

The challenge is that on video it is so clear if you are unorganised, unprepared and unable to facilitate an interesting conversation that is mutually interesting.

How to do networking in a natural way in personal and professional life? Thanks for the great session Rogger B.

Have interest in the other person. What are their dreams, goals, aspirations? Where are they doing well? Where are they facing difficulty? Who has played a significant role in their development as a person and professional?

“How does one promote his work to a higher level than your manager’s without stepping on your boss’s toes? There are multiple managers who frown upon such actions from their subordinates.”

I laugh and tell all IESE students that the answer to every question is “It depends”.  My friend Matt told me about the P.I.E. model for career management.

  • P = Performance – First, you need to be good at the actual work of your job. In the first 10 years of your career, this is where to focus on getting really good.
  • I = Impact – Next, you need to get onto project that are doing work that is making a tangible difference to what the leadership of the company value. In the second 10 years of your career, this becomes important. It is not enough from 30 to 40 years old to just do good work… if you care about your career it is vital that you get to work on projects that have a big impact (and avoid working on projects of low value).
  • E = Exposure – Third, you need to find a way to get positive exposure with the senior leaders of your business.  This becomes important from 40 onwards… you are good at performing the work, you are good at identifying opportunities to have a big impact… now you need to build relationships of trust with senior decision makers.

now we hear your full Irish voice loud and clear!! 🙂 Ricardo R.

I understand that the first 10 minutes the microphone was not doing its job and the audio was going up and down… Glad you let us know!

You sai you started of pretty clumsy when holding a 20 minute conversation with someone but now are pretty good at it. What advice would you give to holding such a conversation? Wadzi

I have gotten much better in several areas:

  • Reaching out by email/phone/LinkedIn with a short request to have a conversation
  • Being clear on who I am and why I am interested in a conversation (I will often tell a short version of the Sandra Erliso story…)
  • Asking good questions and making the conversation about the other person, their projects, their dreams, their aspirations, their lessons
  • Gratitude – via email, gifts of books, connecting them to others who could be of help etc

“Once you have the first contact and conversation how to build a relationship and keep it going?” Carolina S.

Serve their goals and objectives. The more I can get to know their personal and professional objectives, the more ideas I can have on how to contribute.

You said you have a very efficient way how to make the 20 min. Conversation valuable. Can you share some insides how you do that? Stefan S.

Here is a list of “Questions for Life” that I have collected over the years

I have done a lot of sales training over the last 16 years. It is an important skill as an entrepreneur. Most of sales training is about helping the other person get clear on their current situation and help them articulate in a rational way (and feel in an emotional way) the value of making some change.

How do you get the contact you want and build and strong and long lasting relationship with someone with more power than you that does need less from you than you need from her/him? Isaac B.

Begin small.  Find something they have accomplished and let them know you find it inspiring (I am assuming that you do find it inspiring… honesty is important).

How often the Meetings should take place? After the first one it might be difficult to find more topics to discuss Ruben R.

If I find that it is hard to get a good conversation going in our first meeting, I leave them alone. If I find that I am doing all the work to ask questions and keep the conversation flowing, this is not the time… and maybe this is not the person that you can build a trusted relationship with.

Are there differences in the way you do networking when you are in your late fifties (my case) from when you were in your early twenties? Pablo E.

Absolutely. I didn’t think it was important in my twenties.  I didn’t have many clear skills that solve other’s problems.

Today I have several valuable skills that can be of great help to other people.  I am pretty good at helping another get really clear on who they are and what they aspire to achieve. I am very good to helping them articulate their ideas in a way that they can attract many resources to make things happen.

Because I presume that depend on your current level and the level of the people you’re trying to impact/reach to. Isaac B.

When I was younger I was less able to help people in any material way – especially in Spain.

The book “So Good they Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport is a powerful study.  He interviewed 500 people over 50 years old who were “personally and professionally fulfilled”.  His quest – what did they do to create a life that was personally and professionally fulfilling?

His answer – first you need to develop “rare and valuable skills”.

If you don’t have “rare and valuable skills” you are not in a great place to help others.  I recommend the book to many people as they think about how to develop a successful career.

What can you do when you are 20-30 and want to meet senior people? First tell them what they have done that you find inspiring. Then ask good questions about them.  End the conversation before it gets boring.  Then send a written thank you (this is so rare that you will stand out a mile).

“How can you learn to ask effective questions to people you just meet?” Manuela V.

Care about them, about who they are, about what they aspire to become.  Don’t ever assume that a person has their whole life sorted out.  Everyone has some areas of life where they are not getting the fulfilment they hunger for.

If you were to have a 15-min Zoom with a potential mentor, what three questions would you ask them to move up in their “list” and build a powerful and lasting-mentoring relationship? Javier C.

This was answered in the webinar, but here’s the summary:

  • First, we need to ask about their past… their journey to today, the moments and the people that have impacted them.  Questions: Who inspires you? What are the 3 lessons you have learnt in your career?
  • Second, we need to ask about their future.  What are their aspirations, dreams, aims, plans?
  • Third, we need to get a sense of where they are today.  In Vistage we start every meeting with everyone sharing 2 numbers – 1-10 personal, 1-10 professional.  10 is best month of your life.

If you have been able to build a conversation around these three areas – past experience, future dreams and current situation… then there is connection and a relationship can begin.

If you talk about yourself for 15 minutes, there is nothing.

I volunteer to open a chiringuito on the beach with Conor if he´s still interested! 🙂 Ricardo R.

I tried that. I had a chain of ice cream stores (Giangrossi) and we won the concession for a chiringuito. We learnt that it is not such a wonderful environment to run a business.  I’d rather have a friend with a chiringuito these days.

I would be honored to hear the advise on whether it is better to focus on building a wider network or focusing on strengthtening a smaller inner circle? Both? Irina P.

It depends. If you don’t know exactly where you are going and are still exploring, then a wider network will give you more ideas.  If you have clarity on what is important to you, then focus on people that play a key role in that domain.

What is your main advise to young entrepreneurs that are seaking to get good mentorship and good network but do not have much to add to successful businessmen. Marco B.M.

Mentors: don’t ask them for permission. Just watch them and learn from them.  You don’t need to ask Elon Musk for permission to learn from his approach to life and business. You don’t need to ask Rockerfeller permission to read Titan, his biography by Chernow.

There are several types of mentor.  There are several roles mentors can play in your life.  Learn more here: What is Mentorship?

how long do you suggest a first talk with a potential mentor should take? Mercedes Fevre

Enough to connect. You can do that in 15-20 minutes.

How do you build on after the “First Great Meeting”? Lets say I’ve had a great 20 minute conversation… how do I build the relationship further? Whats the next conversation so the relationship can grow deeper? Wadzi

There is a book “Never Eat Alone”.  I don’t like the book as a whole, but it does have a lot of suggestions for how to manage your network in a deliberate

Thanks Conor and IESE. another great session. Congrats!! Ricardo R.


How do you manage your network? Do you have your own CRM system for meeting someone once a week? Will A.

Linkedin is pretty good for this.  I don’t have a specific CRM system for personal networking.  I have a page in my journal where I add names of people that I want to meet, and also for those I want to thank.

In my business we use Hubspot, but this would be an expensive tool for a personal list.

I send out Christmas cards each year – and about 50 go to people who I want to thank for positively contributing to my life during the year.  I have a google docs spreadsheet with address details for all of these people.

“Conor thank you for existing :-)” Rubén M.

Very kind!

Thank you! Sun-Sun de S.


What about professional over 55 ? Which will be your advise for them to improve their networking skills and relationships? Maria S.

It was an incredible eye opening conversation…. Thanks!!!! Michel W.


Past Webinars Q&A

7 responses to “Webinar Recording: How Leaders Network”

  1. […] Network – connect to others, help them, demonstrate trust and competence, find mentors & act as a mentor (connect to 1 new person every week) (Webinar Recording: How Leaders Network) […]

  2. In case not for anyone who wants to remember some of these things at a glance or quick review here are some notes on the first half of the talk. I can post notes on the second half of the talk as I finish them

    How to build relationships of trust and reciprocity
    How successful leaders network vs. having haphazard unsuccessful networks build perhaps without intention but chance

    Key difference between transaction and relationship. You call someone when you need something from them vs. when you think that they need something from you.
    Make the case for building relationships and being of service to the world. Using your network to fulfill a cause to make a difference.
    If you are joining this call and your need is to get a job, I need to get a network because I need to get a that is about you, you need to get a job.
    The question is what skills do you have? What skills do you have that solve problems? What way can you take away a pain that someone else has? (ME: Or that you foresee they will have they cannot see) What way can you improve quality of life for someone. Shift to see your skills as what can you do to improve for someone else? If a business what way can you improve that business. Shift from what can I get to what can I do for others? That is the shift between transactional networking and relational networking.
    You become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Not real time, time in your mind people you are listening to> If you want to get fitter can you find a group of fit friends? If you want to change habits If you change the habits of the people around you it is often a much more effective way to begin a shift.

    What are my values?
    What are my strengths?
    How do I work?
    Where do I belong?
    How do I contribute?
    This is where network begins to be important. We cannot answer this really just alone. We need other people to help us address this question what should I contribute?

    Take responsibility for relationships. That is what we are going to focus on in this session. What does it mean to take responsibility for relationship?
    Rather than the transactions on networking what does it mean for you and I to take full responsibility for relationships in our life?

    We will have multiple transitions in our career not one career in our life.
    What are some of the changes making it most important to take ownership and responsibility for getting clear who I am where I best contribute taking responsibility for relationship.
    Four big trends: Making a huge change in what today a career means vs 40 years ago.
    1. Technology Working from Home
    2. Work change human resources is not looking out for you. You are the CEO of your own life. Managing your own transitions in life growing form one job to the next, responsible for your own promotions no one is going to give you a promotion anymore.
    3. Social expectations. Job used to be a way to pay the bills, now it has to have meaning. People play a huge role in giving us a sense of meaning in our work. What are the things that really motivate us to give our best work? Autonomy, mastery and purpose.
    a. Autonomy- freedom to work with who you want where you want on what you want. In order to get this freedom, you need to have a good network. You need people who trust you.
    b. Mastery- of skills. If a network is going to be of any use to you, you need skills. You need to be able to solve problems. If you do not have a skill, if you do not have the ability to do important work a network is not going to make you more valuable. You have got to have a skill in the first place but one you have a skill this network will multiply.
    c. Purpose- ????? Didn’t finish this microphone problems

    Longevity, we are living healthier longer, retirement is being reinvented. We have had a decade of progress in 11 months the way that COVID has accelerated progress these changes in our society. We have basically jumped to 2030.
    Widespread use of video, accepting of Zoom instead of speaking face to face. Also stopping us to ask questions is this what I really want?

    Arthur Brook, Harvard Business School Graph of life satisfaction, happiness
    16 years 82% steady decline until 53 years
    53 to 65 increase in life satisfaction
    Why does this happen?
    We all have two types of intelligence. Crystal intelligence and fluid intelligence.
    Crystal intelligence is our brute force. Our ability to solve problems ourselves. Our ability to play chess solve math etc. by ourselves. Fluid intelligence is the ability to get work done as a group. The ability to help others be effective. Crystal intelligence maximizes out at about 27 to 30 years old.
    Drop to low point at 53, if you rely on crystal intelligence.

    Post 65 two lines. One is a drop one an increase. What does it take to be on the upper line? You need to shift from crystal intelligence to fluid intelligence as the vital part of the way you get work done to fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence is how to build networks and get work done through people, and how you effective in helping others be better because you are around and how you allow others to be able to help you be better. Building a network, a group of people around you who you wish to be with and who they wish to be with you is so important to be on this upper line. If for no other reason networking is important and I (Connor) still thinks it is a good thing to dedicate time to.

    CONORS TALK is not about the specifics on how to use technology use LinkedIn Instagram send an email or make a list or other as a way to build a network but rather how to think of networking as a fundamental way of creating a fulfilling life for yourself.

    A question I often as people is
    In three years today what needs to change for you to be personally and professionally fulfilled?

    Connor’s story: In graduate school at IESE in Spain his advisor told him he knows no one in Spain and he is not fluent in the language. Get fluid in the language and meet one person in Spain every week if you want to be able to succeed here. Meet one new person every week.

    This was before social networking online, so he got a directory of alumni from the library there were three Irish people who had t=done the MBA who were working in Barcelona. Those where the first three people he met.
    Now he meets one new person week ever since.

    Do not expect other people to sell you. You have got to sell yourself, to those above you beside you and below you. IF YOU CANNOT SELL YOURSELF YOU CANNOT EXPECT ANYONE ELSE TO BE ABLE TO DO IT FOR YOU.

    Story: CEO of two global companies, met with a headhunter who told him he was never going to find a role of CEO like you just had. You never took the time when you where in a position of power to help others, to build bridges. (WOW, remember that and how important that is) to outline to people who you are.
    Networking, building personal bonds is so important to access to opportunities.
    U.S. bureau of labor said over 70% of all jobs are found through networks. At executive position 80% of those jobs are through networking.

    1. Brilliant summary!!! thank you Sheila 😉

      1. Thank you for your feedback

  3. Is the pdf. available on line for non-IESE Alumni?

    1. I will embed it here in the bottom of the blog post, but here is a link to the pdf https://www.slideshare.net/cuchullainn/how-leaders-network-conor-neill-for-iese-business-school-alumni

      1. Thank you so much!!

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: