Action Steps for Gaining Access to Powerful People

It can be incredibly frustrating to have a great idea—but to lack the ability to meet the people who can make it a reality. There are so many layers in some large organizations that people don’t even try; they either just sit on their ideas or take them elsewhere. Their own supervisor might be blocking them; and some genuinely new ideas can take time for senior people to accept. In those cases, access becomes even more important.

This chapter focuses on how to get to the powerful people you want to influence. As we have noted, one of the best ways to gain access is by already having an outstanding reputation—which you do by establishing a strong track record for accomplishing what you commit to, and delivering more than promised. It also helps to constantly consider what’s good for the organization rather than just for yourself. But even the best reputation may not extend high enough in the organization to gain needed access. This requires that you either tap your existing network of relationships or build stronger ones with new, potentially helpful people. Of course, building a relationship where the person is willing to help you is another kind of influence challenge that requires determining what others value—and working together to meet both of your goals. There are no shortcuts.

Furthermore, you often have to work your way up the hierarchy if you are selling a complex organizational proposal. If you have performed ...

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