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How To Reach Mr. Important and Ms. Right

By Samantha Ettus

So you want to get to Person X aka your “Target.” But how? Don’t fret. With a bit of creativity and a lot of confidence you can usually get to anyone. I have used cold calling as my primary technique for putting together my Experts’ Guide series of books. From Suze Orman to Donald Trump and Rachael Ray, each of the experts who have written chapters in my books was the result of my cold calls. Over time, I have found a few foolproof techniques that have served me well. Here are my secrets:

Have a plan. Don’t pick up the phone until you have a plan. Clearly outline your goal in reaching your Target e.g. to follow up on a job interview, to set up a sales call, to introduce yourself for a networking purpose. Be as specific as possible. You would be surprised at how often I hear people say that they got their Target on the phone and froze because they didn’t expect to reach them directly. So cover your bases: go so far as to role play the potential call with a trusted friend or even into a tape recorder. Rehearse potential responses and how you will react to them. Once you reach your Target you might have limited time with them so it is important that you know your intention and be able to articulate it clearly.

Manage the gatekeeper. Congratulations! You have arrived at the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper in some companies will be the receptionist, in others it will be the department coordinator or the assistant/secretary. Here are some simple but essential rules for dealing with the gatekeeper

1. Befriend the gatekeeper. Ask his or her name and write it down so that the next time you call you can address them by name. This enables you to interact with her on a friendly basis, jumpstarting your relationship with the gatekeeper and will bring you one step closer to reaching your Target a.k.a. getting your phone call returned.

2. Assume the gatekeeper has your Target’s ear. I have worked with executives who trust their assistants to be their eyes and ears. If they feel that you have a bad attitude you could ruin your chances of ever reaching your Target.

3. Ask the gatekeeper when the best time to call back would be or how she recommends you might get in touch with her superior. This way you are enlisting her in your cause

Use email. Email is often the best way to completely bypass the gatekeeper and reach your Target directly. If you don’t already have it, finding a Target’s email can require a bit of creativity and bravery.

The easiest way to start the email address hunt is by looking at the company website. First, look under the “contact us” area of the website. If it provides no information don’t be disheartened just yet. Next go straight to the press or media page and look up a press release. Many times a press release will list a contact email address. It is a safe bet that your Target’s email address uses the same format as the press contact listed e.g. [email protected].

If this does not work, pick up the phone to contact the company receptionist and get braced to tell a pale white lie. Say you have been trying to email the Target yet your emails have been getting bounced back to you. The receptionist will sometimes offer the correct address without question. More often she will respond by asking what address you are using and you must make up an educated guess e.g. [email protected]. This should yield the correct address. If not, resort to the phone.

Cater to confidence. Don’t lose sight of your primary goal for contacting your Target and that getting to them is only part of the battle. The real test comes when you interact with them and in how convincing you are in selling you, your products or your resume. And this is the part where confidence can make or break you. The advice above outlines useful tactics for reaching your Target but there is another aspect to this that can’t be underestimated – your self-esteem. All of us have bad days and good days and without a doubt your success will go up immensely on a good day. So use the bad days for paperwork and emails and pick up the phone only when you are feeling good.

About the author

Samantha Ettus created the Experts’ Guide series of books and is an expert at identifying trends in all industries.