All right. You've got your sights set on the big dogs, and now you need to start getting a hold of some decision makers. Here are some tested, awesome hacks you can use to get in touch with the people you need to talk to in order to open up the growth opportunities your business deserves.

Finding a Decision Maker

Let's start at the beginning. The first thing you need to do is get a hold of a decision maker. But if you've ever tried, you know this is a lot more difficult than it seems. Calling a company with over a thousand employees and asking for "the manager" of a certain department usually gets you shunted to a voicemail that no one ever listens to. That's because if you show telltale signs that you're not familiar with the company, the operator (or whomever is handling the call) is quite familiar with people like you – that is, salespeople – and has been instructed on how to handle your call.

So what do you do? You need to talk to a decision maker, but you don't know their name, so you can't ask for them directly. You need a workaround.

If you can't just Google the name of the person in charge, one great idea is to Google whoever used to be in charge. This information is pretty easily available on LinkedIn, and increasingly in people's Google + profiles; after all, everyone's out there doing their best to make their resumes look good! So do a little research before you make that first call and have the information you need to get past the first layer of red tape. Name dropping a former employee will usually get you routed to someone who will actually pick up the phone.

Find An E-mail Address

Well, you might not get Bill Gates' or the President of the United States' personal e-mail, but this will work for a lot of corporate leaders and VIPs.

Most decision makers prefer to be "unlisted" when it comes to their e-mail addresses. They don't want to have to entertain e-mails from every Tom, Dick and Harry that comes along with an idea for "the next big thing." However, they do want to meet with people who have thoughtful, innovative ideas – in fact, they depend on these meetings to keep their business going. You know you've got something of value to offer the big dogs, so you'll have to get creative about finding their e-mail address.

Try the Rapportive hack: See, there's a browser add-on for Gmail called Rapportive that shows you rich profiles for your contacts. When you're typing in an e-mail address, their profile will load in a bar on the side of the screen, along with their recent tweets, e-mail address, job description, etc. Of course, if Rapportive doesn't have this information, it can't populate the information.

So if you've got the name of a big dog you're trying to get a hold of (and you've got Rapportive installed) it's a pretty simple thing to use Rapportive to validate their e-mail address. Just start guessing! You already know the most common formats for e-mail addresses – just start plugging them all in until Rapportive populates a profile. Once Rapportive gives you a profile, you know you've struck gold with your guesses, and now you've got access to that decision maker you've been trying to reach.

Find Corporate Phone Numbers

If you've ever had a problem with your bank account, you know how difficult it can be to find a corporate phone number that will get you through to a real live person. If you want to spend an hour on Google trying to find the right number, by all means, have a day. Otherwise, consider these methods:

  • 1Check the company web site. Yes, it's the "tens" and you feel like an animal having to actually type an entire URL into your browser, but you might find some luck under a company's "Contact" or "About" pages.
  • 2Check This has a decent data set, and an intuitive, user-friendly design that makes it easy to find phone numbers.
  • 3Check the Yellow Pages. Oh, Lord, no – not the phonebook. Do they make those anymore? But if you can find out where a corporation is headquartered, you can head over to and check for a corporate phone number there.
  • 4Find a Press Release. Most companies send out press releases on a regular basis, and they're all available online. If they follow the standard format, there should be a generic corporate number at the bottom of the PDF, and if the company is doing its press management job right, a human being should answer the phone when you call.

Less Conventional Methods of Finding
Decision Makers

There are all kinds of other ways to find decision makers if you're a savvy Web user. Try messaging their Facebook account, or direct tweeting the generic company handle. If you have any personal contacts that understand the company's hierarchy, find out if they can offer you some insight, if not an outright contact number. Also, check the company's web site for a content marketing blog – there might be a useful e-mail address or contact form just hanging out, waiting to reward someone willing to put in the effort!