Starting out on your own can be an extremely daunting exercise. Top of the list of all things scary has got to be all the people that you know you need to know, but just don’t know: those elusive contacts that can make your business. The buyers of department stores, planners, merchandising, suppliers, and all the other players in the fashion business value chain.
To help finding these people, and importantly, securing their contact details I was told of a super simple and effective trick. Nothing unlawful, just playing the game… (note that this technique can work wonders outside of fashion). It may not always work and it has downfalls, but if you’re being blocked in an organisation it might just be worth a try.
Step 1: Know who you want
Find the company you need an in with. Maybe it is a supplier or large department store in a target market or city.
Look on their website, or online directory for the contact phone number of their HQ.
You want the number that puts you through to reception or equivalent.
Step 2: Call the HQ of above company and ask for the name of the person/ role you are targeting
a) Call the reception at HQ.
b) Say who you are and where you are calling from.
c) Ask one question and one question only. “What is the name of the [buyer, merchandiser, accounts person etc…]?”
d) Write the name down and thank reception for their time.
Why: Reception is often trained to filter calls. They are gatekeepers. If you can’t prove you are someone they won’t let you through. But in the vast majority of case they will give you a name as this does not affect their role requirements.
Step 3: Wait a full day then call back
a) Wait a full day before calling back.
b) Again call HQ (you don’t have the direct contact yet) and tell the receptionist that you were “just on the phone with [Mr/Mrs Buyer, merchandiser, accounts etc…] and the call cut-out. The number didn’t come up on your phone. It was an urgent call and you need to call them back.” you can make up your own story, but you get the point.
c) Again in the vast majority of cases this is enough to clear the requirements of the gatekeeper and either give you the number/ email or put you through to the person. If possible try to avoid being put through. It could backfire if reception puts you through and tells your contact that you were just on the phone to them and you were not. This is a risk of this technique.
d) Call or email the person you need directly. Happy times.