Are you trying to reach the CEO of a company?
Maybe to attempt to make a sale. Maybe for an interview. Maybe for a networking opportunity.
Whatever the reason, there are ways that will and won’t work.
You may be able to just call the front desk or secretary and get through. That can work, but usually there are some barriers to getting through.
Here are some ways to get past those to get on with your objective.
1. Go Up The Chain
The CEO may be the one you need to talk to. They may be the one that will give the ultimate approval for what you’re pitching.
But almost all of them have barriers in place. Their time is important. They can’t deal with every pitch. Yes, they miss out on some great stuff, but they also miss out mostly on things that will waste their time.
But if you can make it through the barriers and work up the chain you can get through.
Reach out to a manager of a department. Get to know them. Build a rapport. Then work on to their boss. Perhaps the VP. Then work your way to the CEO.
If you want to interview the CEO, talk to the social media person. Then the PR person. Then the CEO. It takes time, but probably less time than trying to contact the CEO directly over and over.
2. Personal Interests
Nearly every CEO will have a hobby. A personal interest. This might be location based, but not always. For example, I golf in a golf league every week. There are a number of local CEOs that are part of the golf league. Being in that league allows me unique access to those CEOs.
Now, I can’t just start selling things when I see those CEOs. But I can get to know them. I can ask questions. I can build up to a possible sale.
But the whole key is finding a shared interest. It’s easier to do this now with social media. There are plenty of CEOs that share information about their interests on Twitter and Instagram.
3. Passion Projects
Many CEOs have projects like nonprofits. They want these to work as much or more than the business they’re running. Because they want these projects to work so badly they’re often more open to newcomers coming in to offer help.
Maybe you want to sell the CEO and their business on social media management. Instead of starting with that, offer to do it for the passion project. Do it for free or for very little with the idea that it might lead to the business.
4. When They Need Attention
This is common in the new podcasting world. You’ll often see a CEO, a billionaire even, on some podcast. And it might surprise you that this CEO would be on a podcast or even a podcast that isn’t very well known.
The reason is often that the CEO has something they want to bring attention to. Usually it’s a book they’ve written.
Follow the CEO until they have something that they want to bring attention to. When they do it’s an opportunity to get their attention in some way.
5. Their Need To Help
Some CEOs want to help. It’s kind of human nature to want to help people in various ways. It’s like the point earlier about passion projects. If you can identify how CEOs want to help and you can help them help then you can get your foot in the door.
6. Their Need To Pass On Knowledge
People seem to have a need to teach. Maybe the CEO doesn’t have children. That’s totally fine, but maybe they have an urge to have a parent/child relationship in some capacity. They want to pass on their knowledge. You can perhaps be that person by asking questions about what they do. See if you can get them to provide you with knowledge. I’ve been surprised at how many CEOs on the golf course will be willing to share their knowledge if I just ask a couple questions about their experiences in business.
7. Their Fears & Concerns
CEOs are people. They have fears and concerns. Usually these are some ways you can form a connection. Maybe the CEO is in the catalog world and they’re fearful of how their company will survive beyond catalogs. Maybe they’re concerned about their lack of knowledge about Instagram.
Reach out and specifically mention a fear or concern and how you can help. Maybe just offer to share your knowledge…for free with them. Or just send them all your thoughts and information that will help them.
You can believe in serendipity. I do. I think it happens all the time. But I think you have to be open to it. I think you can also help it along a little bit.
Remember the movie, Hitch, with Will Smith? He would help people fall in love?
I think it’s true that sometimes people need help meeting each other. I think relationships are formed with time, but that time needs a little push in the beginning. A little serendipity.
Golf is one way I meet all kinds of people.
Identify what CEOs do with their time. Where they do. Try to be in the same places with them. The more you do that the more likely you are to find yourself meeting them.
9. Their Preferred Method Of Communication
You may be trying to call the CEO and getting no response. Maybe the CEO doesn’t like talking on the phone. That’s often the case. It’s simple, but it’s often the case.
Try email. Or try a direct message on Instagram.
Try to find their preferred method of communication, not yours.
One of my favorite stories is about entertainment manager Jerry Weintraub. It was either in the late ’60s or early ’70s. He had an idea for managing a tour for Elvis. He knew it was a great idea for all parties involved.
He called Elvis’s manager. He got a no. And that’s not surprising. Elvis didn’t need to go on tour.
But Jerry called that manager everyday for a year. Sometimes they discussed the tour idea. Many times they didn’t. Some conversations were short. Other times they were long.
Finally, after a year, the manager agreed to the tour. Talk about persistence.
Reaching CEOs is almost never easy. These folks are busy. They have barriers. Their time is precious and they just don’t have time to meet new people and listen to pitches. But if you go through the right channels and set things up a little differently you can put yourself in contact.
Just make sure you’re offering value. Use these tips for good.