How to Get Past Gatekeepers

When I worked in a corporate office — I’ve tried to block out that part of my life — a vendor called my office and thought I was the receptionist. He was rude, condescending and had no trouble showing his true colors.

He never knew why, but I did business with his competitor instead of with him.

No matter how talented you are, or how great your business reputation is, at some point you’re going to have to get past business gatekeepers. Consider these three gate-crashing tips.

Don’t push harder

When you can’t get through to someone, your first thought may be to push harder. Instead of making progress, you’ll aggravate the person on the other end of the line. At that point you essentially squelch any chance you may have had of seeing or talking with the person they’re protecting. And by the way, yelling, “Don’t you know who I am?” rarely works.

Make a list

If you don’t know it already, personal assistants and receptionists should be at the top of your list…the “be extra nice” list. They’re the gatekeepers and they can mean the difference between letting your calls go through, answering your e-mails, and giving you access to key contacts.

Get to know the gatekeeper

The more you call a company to try to reach a key contact, take the time to get to know the gatekeeper’s name. It’s even better if you can learn more about him or her. Keep good notes and when you call, ask the gatekeeper about his or her kids, talk about the weather, or ask the person about anything else to keep the conversation going.

Gatekeepers can make your business life a bit easier. By taking the time to get to know the person who can potentially block your way, you can break down barriers between you and your key contacts.

How do you get past gatekeepers?


  1. Great tip, Lisa. I’ve never understood the strategy that ticking off a person will get you what you want. When I was a manager in my corporate days (I haven’t quite blocked it) 🙂 I blasted more than one colleague who was rude and obnoxious to my staff. Be professional – respect those you speak with.
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Do You Sell Your Customers Short?My Profile

  2. Great tips Lisa! I used to be a personal assistant, and believe me… if someone was rude to me on the phone, that made it more likely he wouldn’t get through to my boss. He was a busy guy and he needed me to filter. If someone was really nice, I’d even follow up to make sure my boss got back to them. It’s amazing what a little kindness will do for you! 🙂
    Anthony Caruso recently posted..Recap from the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo – ChicagoMy Profile

  3. Our policy has always been to treat gatekeepers no different that those “prospects” who we cultivate. All are necessary and all are human. They must be treated with decency and with the hope of converting them from prospect to (more than) satisfied consumer.
    Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A. recently posted..PainMy Profile

  4. Gatekeepers have an important role in any business and they deserve respect and to be treated well. There is no way that we can treat anyone badly and then expect their help and support to achieve our goal of talking to their boss
    Roberta Budvietas recently posted..Is you business flowing or bleeding out?My Profile

  5. You reminded me of how I used to get my point across — this was many, many years ago…. When my points were not getting through, I thought I could repeat them in a different way to convince and sway people to my side… Boy, have I learned a lot since then! Love the gatekeeper … Ghostbusters!!!

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