To gain carte blanch entrée to the C-Suite ride the backs of subordinates' who have become your supporters. Supporters are made when people see solutions to their problems by working with you. Being friendly is good, but showing you can deliver is mandatory.
Once you find a troubled person relative to your line of work,
1. Learn what’s troubling this person. Don't assume you know. Let the person tell you.
2. Ask her what she wants to do about it. This will set you apart from most sales people and show you the path of least resistance.
3. Show you have the answer, and differentiate by giving specifics of how you’ll do it and who you’ve done it for in the past.
Once this person buys-in, you have developed a supporter. Now make it a necessity that she moves both of you to the next higher level of management to learn their troubles and expectations. if she hasn't bought in, you'll have developed a blocker.
When you reach the true power, the one with spending authority, ask him to explain the problem as he see it. Then, as above, show you have his answer and differentiate. If the leader’s not interested, give it up. If he is, ask for the order!