I have two friends who work for small businesses. Neither are the decision-makers/budget-holders but both have some influence over those processes. Both have mentioned to me that they are considering revamping their websites. As I am in the process of starting my own web development business, I obviously would like a chance at this business. What tactics can I use to try and get myself to the decision-maker through my friends without seeming overly pushy? Neither of these friends are close friends so I can't simply badger them until they relent.
They are considering revamping their website, that is not the same as actually wanting to do it. I've heard this many times back in my web design days, it could be months before they actually act upon it, if at all.
Anyway, just ask your friends to be put in contact with the decision maker (giving contact detail does not require a close friendship I would say) and ask the decision maker if they are interested in revamping their website and if you can make an offer. Mention the people that gave you their contact details and throw in your references or a link to your portfolio.
When you're not sure, aim to the head!
Prepare a good plan, prepare yourself, practice what you will say, then ask your friends to arrange meeting with CEO boards and present them your idea. I think there is no better way since you will immediately know where you are.
Some other will try bribing "friends" into giving them some percentage or some other benefits, but I am not good at such stuff so I better don't say much about it :).