Getting Past Gatekeepers To Decision-Makers

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Does it sometimes seem as though hiring managers or key decision-makers are residing in a gated community? As a job seeker or sales professional, you don't have to grope for the access code. Learn how to reach decision-makers so you too can enter the gates of employment or make your sales quota.

Half the difficulty in getting a job or making a sale is getting to the decision-maker to make your case. Traditionally there was a secretary or administrative assistant to circumnavigate. Now there are electronic nemeses as well - challenges like voice mailboxes and blind e-mail addresses. How to get past the gatekeepers - those professionals who "guard" the decision-makers and often run interference for them?

Gatekeepers (GKs), those entrusted with guarding the Decision-Makers (DMs) you wish to reach, can be your adversaries or allies, depending on your approach. They serve as a filter or screen for their bosses. Your challenge: to be regarded as important enough to be allowed into their inner sanctum. Gatekeepers may be administrative assistants, secretaries, voice mail systems or switchboard operators. They also may be temporary workers or human resource representatives.

Here are my rules of thumb for "Passing Gate" and receiving consideration by decision makers:

DO

DON'T

While cold calling can be a numbers game, the essence of calling is a people game: Treat others like the valued individuals they are and remain confident you're someone whose call decision-makers will be glad they took.

Craig Herrison is a Toastmaster in California.

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