In order to preserve their livelihood, a gatekeeper’s job is to protect the business. They need to filter out real business opportunities, and good people, from all of the other chaos in the world.
If you’re a creator, you want to get pulled in through a gate—and corresponding gatekeeper—by someone that the gatekeeper already trusts. Maybe it’s the gatekeeper’s boss.
You do this by communicating with the gated. And you probably won’t be able to get a meeting, so you do this through other forms of media. Like a blog, or social media, or content, or whatever it is. (I’m talking, of course, about individuals building a direct line of communication with other people. Corporations going direct with the intention of cutting out media is a bit different!)
The problem is, for the most part, going direct can feel extremely unrewarding. It can feel like long, hard, work. As a famous example, world renowned violinist Joshua Bell went direct to people—offering his gift to commuters for free—and was practically ignored.
There are no perks to this work in the beginning; no admiring fans, no co-branding, and no certainty. You’re probably not in the right room, as a matter of fact; you’re working at a very small scale, with whatever’s available to you, and just trying to get consistent.
Each blog post, networking event, song, cartoon, artwork, podcast episode, pro bono project, free trial, etc., is a possible hook for the gated to pull you through the gate. It’s a chance to make half a match.
In Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter, Curtis Jackson (better known as recording artist 50 Cent) writes, “The more time I spend with corporate executives, the more I’ve noticed how clueless they are about how to connect with the public. They’ll form focus groups, commission studies, hire influencers—everything but go directly to the people.”
By contrast, Jackson does meet and greets for his music and for his vodka brand and for his champagne brand. He still pounds the pavement. He outlines his own method, “I always try to connect with people on the most basic level.”
That could mean staying at high end hotels, like marketer Neil Patel, who writes:
“I once met a guy in the elevator at the St. Regis hotel where I stay when I’m on business in New York City. We struck up a conversation about the weather. It was January and super cold. He told me about his vacation home in Oahu where it was always in 70s or 80s…. The gentleman hired me on the spot for a one-day seminar with the marketing directors at each of his dealerships. He would pay me $75,000 for the speaking engagement, and I would provide a weekly call over the next four weeks. In the call, I would analyze their numbers and give them recommendations.”
It’s always worth knocking at the gates and going through the old-fashioned way. Just don’t spend all your time doing it; augment the method by creating opportunities for people to pull you through the gate.
See also walk both paths.