The startup world moves fast. If you are in it you already know. So here is an important piece of advice for making sure you maximize your time. As a startup when it comes to making deals, selling your products or services, or connecting with other company you must do as the title of this article says “ALWAYS REACH FOR THE TOP.” What that means is that it is your job to find who the decision maker is, or the manager that has the power to influence the decision, and to connect directly with them.

Spending time with gatekeepers, or worse, getting caught up trying to pitch to a gatekeeper can not only be disastrous for your pitch, but it can be a significant waste of time, and open the possibility of creating miscommunications with the actual decision-maker. The way that small companies and fast-growing companies have to operate is to focus on getting answers quickly and inexpensively. This means working directly with the person that can actually give you that answer.

The idea behind this is simple, speak once, ask once, get an answer once. If you can avoid having to explain to a group of people or to a list of people that escalate you to the decision-maker you can get to yes, or more importantly no even faster. That speed allows you to move onto the next connection, partnership opportunity, or potential customer.

For a startup founder or a small business leader your time is one of your most precious resources. Not just because you have a limited amount of it, but also because it means that others who using their time better can bypass you if they use their time better. So remember these things:

  • Most executives have a direct phone number, find it!
  • Most of them have an email address as well – and it is often listed somewhere publicly
  • Try to find them on LinkedIn – I suggest staying away from other social media until you have an established relationship

If you get stuck at a gatekeeper – be persistent, find another avenue or move on. There are other companies, there are other avenues and you have to remember first and foremost that everyone’s time is precious, even that person blocking you from getting at the person you really want to speak with. If your offer is great, then companies that have their eyes open will see it, and the right people will connect with you. To say it is a numbers game is too simple. It is a people game, and if you remember that moving on to the next opportunity is not just about “beefing up your number” it is about respecting people’s time, then you will come out on top in the end.

Take this advice and start it tomorrow. Pick a channel, and start reaching for the top, the worst that will happen is a few no’s, and who knows what the best that can happen will be, either way – you will move forward and ultimately create some amazing connections.