You should follow a two-step process in making initial contact. In the first step, do all of your research and information gathering, including identifying your target contact at a particular company. The second step is the actual direct contact with your target contact.
In the first step, you will often need to call the company to gather the needed information such as the name and title of the target contact. Even if the receptionist or other contact person offers to immediately connect you with your target contact, you should refuse: "Thank you, but this is the only information I need at this time." Speaking to your target contact should always be a separate step. It may seem rather futile to waste a phone call just to find out who your target contact is, so let me explain the reason for using this two-step method.
If you are not prepared for the screen, you will be screened.
Think about what happens on the other end of the line. You have made an inquiry as to the name of the Hiring Manager, your target contact. As the person on the other end of the phone, I might give you the information on the person, then offer to put you through to that person's phone. You say that would be fine. Now I ask (if I have not already) who you are and what the call is about. "May I tell him what it is regarding?" And you have just been screened. Not just for this call, but possibly for all future calls. I tell the manager that there is someone on the phone asking about titles and names and that the person is looking for entry level employment. The manager tells me to take a message. I do. And your chances of ever getting through to the Hiring Manager are greatly diminished.
Why is it so different doing it in two steps? Because when you use a second, separate step in calling your target contact, you can ask for the person by name, which puts your call on a different level from the information-gathering call. You have a great deal more leverage in getting through to the person and past the Guardian of the Gate who might have otherwise screened you out.
So use the two-step target contact process. This entire chapter is devoted to step #1. Next chapter is step #2. An entire chapter just for finding and getting through to your target contact? Yes, since this is the pivotal activity that drives the next step. Sometimes it will be easy and sometimes not. This chapter gives you several unique tools for handling a wide variety of circumstances in gathering this information to help ensure your success in reaching the next step.