The reason for so much emphasis on getting the name is – to make any progress we must get our foot in the door, and having a name helps to accomplish this. Gate keepers are trained to reject any unsolicited inquiries, so if you have no name you’ll get turned away or referred to HR, which isn’t our objective – at the moment.
Put the perception that you don’t belong and that you are doing something against someone's make-believe rules, out of your mind. Think about it, put yourself in the shoes of someone who is familiar with their system and organization – a vendor or supplier, for example. When they call they simply ask their question, get the info and move on. If you’re nervous it is primarily because you are aware of what you’re up to, and you’ve been conditioned to think it’s forbidden and off limits for you to act in your own self-interest, so rid yourself of this conditioning. Besides, all you’re doing is asking for a name.
So, what if:
- They start to ask questions you can’t answer or you get overly nervous? As I stated earlier, in mid-sentence hang up; calls get dropped all the time. You can always call back when you are ready to continue and go at it again.
- They give you the wrong name? So what, you have a name and call back and suggest you were mis-directed; even with this you are no longer a total outsider. Once you get used to doing this it gets easier when you will call any organization and ask for the info you need.
- They might remember your name?
Again, so what? It does not matter unless you offend someone and, frankly,
if your name becomes familiar they may more easily put you through in the
future – remember, perception is reality. If you are able to build any
kind of friendly rapport with a gate keeper you’ll find if you can remove
suspicion, most will be more than happy to feel as if they are helping
If or when you receive the name, exploit the opportunity and try for additional info such as official title, their email, and you can also ask for the name of their admin assistant (this might come in handy later).
If you don’t succeed or are having difficulty, never, ever get nasty because they are just doing their job; you’re the outsider and although I am suggesting you keep it short, direct and professional, don’t sugar coat things too much. Though, to quote another old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” If you don’t get through the first time, wait a day or perhaps two, then try again. Will this strategy get you in every time? No, of course not; however, it does work and the more you do this the better your abilities will become, and so also will be your results. Sport teams have playbooks; do those plays work, yes. Do those plays work every time they are tried, no. Incidentally, to what I’ve been referring is the basic skill commonly referred to as cold calling and it’s what every successful sales person, marketer and recruiter does every day. You’d be well served to adopt and apply these techniques.
Once you have a name, what then? When you will have your moment and have the chance to speak with a hiring manager, do you know what you’ll say? So here’s a direct question. Can you, within 30 to 40 seconds, clearly and with confidence introduce yourself, state the reason for your call, synopsize and present reasons why you are worthy of their time and consideration? Not surprisingly, most people cannot, but that’s okay. I’ll teach you how. So while others might put their foot in their mouth, you’ll be putting your best foot forward.
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