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Getting Past Gatekeepers--The First Step

Getting Past Gatekeepers--The First Step
by Leni Chauvin

This story is often referred to as "The Richard Burton Story" for reasons which will soon become apparent.

Sooner or later, everyone who knows me gets to hear "The Richard Burton Story" because it was while the events of the story were unfolding that I got my first glimpse into what networking is all about.

I invite you to travel back with me to a swelteringly hot and humid June afternoon in New York City a long time ago when John Kennedy was in the White House, Leni Chauvin was a young girl named Leni Panoff, and the hottest ticket on Broadway was for a musical called Camelot, starring a young Welshman named Richard Burton.

My friend, Ethel, and I had ridden the subway from our homes in Brooklyn with our Play of The Month tickets clasped firmly in hand. We arrived at the theater just in time to thumb quickly through our programs, and then Ta-Da! The house lights dimmed, the orchestra began the overture, and before we knew it, we were watching Robert Goulet, Julie Andrews and Richard Burton as they melodically transported us to the kingdom of Camelot.

I don't know if it was the story, the music, the dancing, or the fact that I got to watch Richard Burton prance around in tights for three hours, but whatever it was, it was magic, pure and simple. I was enthralled. I was mesmerised. I was hooked. I quickly became a woman(child) on a mission: I had to meet Richard Burton.

What's this got to do with networking and building your business? Lots. Stay with me. I promise it'll all come together in the end. :-)

But I digress.

Back to Broadway, where, after the show, Ethel headed in one direction and I headed in another. Ethel was going to the subway for the ride home to Brooklyn. I never thought of that. I was headed for the stage door so I could gain access to Richard Burton, MY Richard Burton. Ethel never thought of that. (She obviously, was not a woman(child) on a mission.)

When we arrived at the stage door (I had by this time convinced Ethel to join me), we were shocked to see that we were not alone. There, before the door, stood close to 300 other bubblegum-chewing prepubescent women(children) on the very same mission.

The stage door manager was very firm in telling us that Mr. Burton would not be able to see us. About half of the girls left, but there was still plenty of competition for the grand prize of a meeting with Broadway's rising star. I knew we had a window of opportunity of about three hours between the end of the Saturday matinee and the start of the evening performance. Surely Mr. Burton must leave the theater for something to eat between performances? No? How was I ever going to meet him?

Time passed. More girls left. Ethel and I had the opportunity to start chatting with the gatekeeper. Idle chit chat, really, nothing earth shattering. We must have bored the other girls to death, because slowly, more and more of them left until Ethel and I were the only ones remaining. Still we were told we would not get to meet Mr. Burton.

We began talking to the gatekeeper in earnest now. We asked a lot of questions and found him to be a really interesting and friendly man underneath the gruff exterior. We started to like him.

We learned about his son, the truck driver. We learned about his daughter, the school teacher. We learned about his wife's arthritic knees and his noisy neighbours. We learned a lot about him and his life. He came to understand how besotted we were with Mr. Burton, and in the end, took pity on us and led us backstage where we waited yet again.

Finally, Richard Burton emerged from his dressing room wearing jeans, a white tee shirt and silver clips in his hair to curl his bangs for the evening's performance. The mystique was gone along with the tights, but it was an interesting conversation nevertheless as he told us about his upcoming trip to Rome to begin shooting the movie, Cleopatra. What I remember most is his telling us that he had not yet met his co-star, Elizabeth Taylor, but that he was really looking forward to working with her. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now here comes the tie-in with networking and building your business. You see, it's all about forming relationships and caring about the other person. We learned a lot about the gatekeeper as a subtle shift took place. At the end of about two hours together we were no longer strangers. That man probably had more attention paid to him that day than he had in a long time. We formed a relationship based on genuine interest and caring with the result being we were able to get what we were hoping for. It was truly a win-win situation, but the real lesson we learned that day was best stated by Mary Kay Ash, founder of the Mary Kay cosmetic company, when she said: "Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says 'Make Me Feel Important.' Not only will you succeed in business, you will succeed in life."

©1999 Leni Chauvin

About the Author

Leni Chauvin is a Professional Success Coach and an internationally recognized expert in business networking whose strategies have led to millions of dollars worth of referrals for her clients. She is available for keynotes, training, and business coaching for people who want or need more business.To subscribe to her FREE e-mail newsletter, mailto:NetworkingGazette-On@lists.WebValence.com

E-Mail: mailto:leni@superstarnetworking.com Web: http://www.superstarnetworking.com

Tags: Sales and Marketing



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