One of my duties as an administrative assistant is to answer the Director's phone. His line rings on my phone, and i can decide whether or not to forward the caller on to him.
Most of the people who call are vendors that he doesn't want to talk to. Here's what happens: the Director meets a vendor at some kind of event. They exchange cards, because it's the polite thing to do, even though the Director has absolutely no intention whatsoever of ever doing any kind of business with the vendor. He tells the vendor that we're all set for now with whatever service he or she is trying to sell us, but that we might be in the market again in (x) months.
(x) months later, they call again. Only this time, they are talking to me.
Knowing that the Director has no interest in their business, i fob them off with lots of excuses about "he's in and out of the office a lot, so it's hard to get in touch with him by phone", and encourage them to give me a message to pass on. They usually opt to call again later, at which point they talk to me again.
Today, the Director advised me to keep it up as long as i can. "Wait until they're sending you flowers and tickets to exclusive events. You can decide how to proceed from there," he said, winking.
He went on to explain that lots of vendors know that the people they actually want to talk to have "gatekeepers" whose job description basically boils down to "keeping the knucklehead stuff off my desk". They are the ones who decide which calls and messages get passed along and which do not. Therefore, many vendors will try to butter up and befriend the gatekeepers in the hopes of getting passed along to the Boss.
I had no idea there were such great perks with this job.