In today’s fast-growing healthcare IT landscape, it has become increasingly important for industry partners to establish strong relationships with key decision-makers such as CIOs, in order to market their products and services effectively. CIOs play a crucial role in determining an organization’s technology strategy, making them valuable partners for vendors looking to showcase their innovative solutions.
However, we are constantly inundated with sales pitches, emails, LinkedIn messages, cold calls, etc. A “quick” 15-minute call is never 15 minutes. So how can industry partners connect with us? The answer lies in leveraging professional organizations, personal relationships, and networking functions.
Professional Organizations: A Gateway to Industry Leaders
One of the most effective ways to meet CIOs and other IT executives is by joining and actively participating in professional organizations. These groups provide a platform for industry professionals to share knowledge, discuss emerging trends, and develop lasting connections. By attending meetings, conferences, and workshops organized by these associations, vendors can gain valuable insights into the challenges and priorities of CIOs, while also showcasing their expertise and thought leadership.
Some of the professional organizations that cater to health IT leaders include organizations like HIMSS, CHIME, and American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), etc. By becoming members of these organizations and contributing to their events and initiatives, vendors can effectively position themselves as trusted advisors and solution providers to CIOs. Additionally, active participation allows for meaningful connections due to quality time spent serving on boards or volunteer activities.
Personal Relationships: Building Trust and Credibility
While professional organizations offer a formal setting to connect with CIOs, the importance of personal relationships cannot be overstated. By cultivating genuine relationships with IT leaders, vendors can create a solid foundation of trust and credibility — two essential factors when it comes to influencing purchasing decisions. Health IT is a small field; we all know each other, and we will pick up the phone and call fellow CIOs to get their input.
To foster meaningful personal relationships, vendors should strive to understand the unique needs and challenges faced by each CIO they interact with. This can be achieved through regular communication, sharing relevant industry news and insights, and offering tailored solutions that address our concerns. Although I’m in the federal space, I have IT staffing services contact me — those conversations go nowhere.
However, vendors that make a personal effort to understand my unique needs can lead to stronger connections and a deeper understanding of the CIO’s organization and its technology requirements. Furthermore, real friendships can blossom from these interactions. I have made lifelong friends thanks to shared interests in the field.
Networking Functions: Expanding Your Circle
Networking events and functions provide another valuable opportunity for vendors to connect with CIOs and other IT executives. These gatherings, ranging from industry conferences to informal meetups, offer a more relaxed environment for professionals to engage in conversations and share ideas. In San Antonio, we have a monthly networking event that is well attended and provides an excellent opportunity for a meet and greet.
To make the most of these networking opportunities, vendors should approach each event with an open mind. Have an elevator pitch prepared, but also talk about something that generates interest in you as a person. Actively seek out conversations with IT leaders, but also realize when we are bored.
Moreover, viewing networking functions as a starting point for building relationships rather than a one-time sales opportunity is essential. By developing rapport and demonstrating genuine interest in the challenges faced by CIOs, vendors can lay the groundwork for future discussions.
CIOs are constantly seeking innovative solutions; and so, we do want to know about your product or ideas. However, we do have finite time to allocate to new discussions. Ultimately, successful engagement with a CIO is likely from a shared interest, relationship, and a genuine understanding of the organization’s goals and challenges.
This piece was written by Chani Cordero, CIO at Brooke Army Medical Center, a 425-bed medical center based in San Antonio, Texas.