Here is the answer for those of you who are in a hurry:
In short, you need to first build a case to make a case. You need to raise awareness to the related issue or opportunity so that someone is open to you making a case on a topic.
Now a longer explanation.
I am sure you have faced this situation before. You strongly believed in something and made a compelling case to get an approval ( may be from your Boss ) but you get turned down instantly. You had thought through every single aspect of the project but for some reason the other person did not see this project the same way that you did.
There are many reasons for not getting buy-in (including “You” being one of the reasons) for your idea but if you don’t build a case before you make the case, the other person simply won’t be open and excited to listen to your case.
How do you know you have successfully built a case to make a case?
You know it when the other person is “eagerly looking” for someone to make a case. The other person is aware of the issue or opportunity to such an extent that he or she wants to do something about it.
How do you achieve this?
A few days ( or weeks or months ) before you make the actual case, you start talking about things surrounding the issue or opportunity. You present data/evidence/trends related to the topic in regular intervals and show why this topic is relevant to the other person. It might start off as a one-way street for a long time before the other person starts to engage in deep conversations related to the topic.
When these conversations reach a critical mass, the stage is set to for you to make the actual case.
Things take time and that is just the way it is. If the case you are making is important for you and the other person the time investment before making the case is well worth it.
Photo Courtesy: exploreabhishek on Flickr