Let me start by saying that for the purposes of this blog I'm going to refer to the Receptionist as a she, but the male Receptionists I've come across possess the same skills. Caveat: There are always exceptions to every rule. This is a general observation based on my experience dealing with Receptionists and having been one when I started my career.
The Receptionist knows you want to see her boss, and you want to see him/her badly. She has witnessed many extremely creative attempts to get past her, you are not going to impress her. Experience has taught her who her boss would likely want to talk to, that's why she still has her job. She doesn't always want to be the Receptionist, she wants to move up the ranks, how she handles you will be taken into consideration if and when promotions come around.
There's an inherent problem with being a good Receptionist, good ones are hard to find. When a company finally gets that gem who is intuitive enough to suss out the 'pests' and savvy enough to sense the 'potentials,' they don't want to lose her. You can't teach intuition. She is also blessed with common sense and resourcefulness, she finds ways to work around obstacles so her boss never hears the words 'I don't know' or 'I can't get it done.' This is her strength and her downfall. It's what will eventually get her promoted, but it's also what stands in her way. Nobody wants to lose a good Receptionist.
The Receptionist doesn't make as much money as her colleagues, but what she doesn't get in her paycheque, she sees in perks that make her workmates drool with envy. Some may even go so far as to sabotage the Receptionist out of sheer envy, and because someone did that to them when they were the Receptionist. So the Receptionist keeps these perks a secret unless she's feeling particularly prickly and wants to rub someone's nose in it. Some of these perks may include a spa weekend at a luxury hotel ~ the sales person at the hotel wants the company's shiny clients to stay at their hotel when in town, and they know the Receptionist is the gateway.
All sales people know this, but it can annoy an Assistant to hear the Receptionist make arrangements to take her friend out to a 4 star restaurant for her birthday. Personally, I think she deserves it, because the people who've already made it past the door, or who are already 'in the industry' don't share the same need to be nice to the Receptionist, and a lot of them are very rude and offensive. When you've had to deal with several jerks at any given time, it chips away at you, but the Receptionist will always hide her tears, crying is a weakness and won't help her reach the next rung on the career ladder.
Fun Fact: A very long time ago, Jim Carrey used to park himself outside an Ottawa Concert Promoter's office and do his stand-up for everyone going into the building. He did this every day. It didn't get him through the door, but that concert promoter sure didn't have the last laugh.
You probably know that a lot of this business is based on nepotism. If a Receptionist doesn't possess the skills already mentioned, she still has a good amount of job security if she's related to someone in an executive position. She won't get promoted, but unless she really sucks at her job, she can stay there and collect the perks for as long as she wants. Those Receptionists are not held in very high regard by colleagues, but they don't care. They're the most difficult of the species to deal with because sometimes spite dictates their behaviour and although it has nothing to do with you, you still have to get past her. I.don't have a lot of advice to give you on how to handle a Receptionist by Nepotism, because what works one day may not work the next. Sucking up almost never works with the savvy Receptionist, but sometimes it does work on the Receptionist by Nepotism. Know who you're dealing with before you approach!
That said, I'll give you my best advice on approaching the Receptionist at the company you want to do business with. It doesn't matter if it's a Record Label, Management Company, Booking Agency, Concert Promoter, etc. the same general rules apply. (If nepotism already got you in the door and you don't think you have to heed this advice, always remember, the Receptionist still has the ability to make things difficult for you.)
ALWAYS be respectful. That whole 'fake it 'til you make it' business is not going to work here. If you call or walk in with an ego, prepare to have it crushed, and rightfully so.
Do NOT suck up, that's a weakness the Receptionist can smell a mile away, and she hates that smell.
Creativity is always appreciated but don't insult her intelligence. Making a video to a 'fun song' you wrote about how beautiful she is will probably get you banned.
Don't be a pest, don't call or email incessantly. They're busy and you're wasting their time. They got your call and your email, you can follow up once or twice, then find another way.
Don't lie or exaggerate. They've seen and heard it all, that will backfire on you in a most unpleasant way.
You can offer to buy her lunch to get her advice about the best approach, Everybody likes to know their opinion has value. Not saying she'll accept, but it's worth a try - if she doesn't accept, don't ask again, otherwise you may be venturing in to stalker territory.
You may offer her tickets to any of your shows, she may not show up, but free tickets to a show might be just what she needs after a stressful day at work. I recommended a band that way when I was receptionist and we ended up hiring them as an opening act at a 1,500 capacity venue. The Receptionist does have the ear of her bosses.
These are just a few tips, I could write a whole chapter about each individual position, and I fully intend to, but this is a start. Next Personality: The Assistant. I will cover three varieties; The Executive Assistant, the Mere Mortal Assistant and the Artist's Personal Assistant. Come on back.