Getting past the gatekeepers within companies, brands, and organizations to connect with decision makers can sometimes be the most difficult challenge in building relationships with potential strategic partners and sponsors.
How can you overcome this challenge that sometimes feels impossible?
It’s actually pretty simple.
Make friends with the gatekeepers.
If gatekeepers feel comfortable with you, and “like” you, they are more likely to connect you with the person you need to know.
The first step is to do your homework about the brand and some of the people who work there (you'll find step-by-step brand research strategies here). Any connection points you find can help you on your call with the gatekeeper. For example, on one call we made, we noticed that the company had supported a charity in the community where Charmaine had her first full-time job after college.
She mentioned that detail in the phone call to break the ice and made a connection. In fact, she framed it in this way, “I had no idea you were in Pickering. I have lots of fond memories there as that was where my first full-time job was. I don’t even know if the place is still there.”
Of course, the next logical question is, “Where was it?” or “What was it called?” and when Charmaine responded with the name of the business, typically what happens next is more questions, more answers, and often some storytelling. We have applied the same strategy with other connection points such as, “I love your new TV commercial,” or “Congrats on the business award.”
Be pleasant, upbeat, and avoid anything that looks and feels salesy.
Thank the contact for their help and their time. When you get on the phone to the right person, make sure you complement the gatekeeper to their boss. Something like, “Wow, Marie is great. Talk about a great first impression of your company.” Of course, the key is always honesty, integrity, and authenticity. After you have the call with the correct person, another great touch is to phone the gatekeeper back to say thank you for helping you get through.
That can sound something like, “Hi Marie. It’s Charmaine, we spoke a few days ago. You helped me get connected to Joe. I just wanted to circle back and say thank you. We had a great conversation, thanks for helping make that happen.”
One of our goals in the Big Dream Primer is to empower people to make REAL connections that create REAL excitement around dreams and projects, so making those genuine connections is vital to your success. Taking the time to show gratitude will make a positive and memorable impression.