Today’s guest post is by Geoff Reiner.
I crashed my first wedding in my late teens.
I was with my older cousin who was rather intoxicated.
A few minutes after our grand entrance, we were kindly asked to leave.
I crashed my second wedding a few years later.
This time, I went alone.
Let me rephrase – when I say I crashed weddings, I actually just ventured to other weddings within the same venue that seemed far more entertaining.
And fortunately I was able to retire before the whole activity got a bad rep.
Regardless, at my second and much more successful crashing experience, I started off as a fly on the wall. I was extremely patient and strategically listened to various conversations. Once I found the most appropriate opportunity to participate and provide value, I went for it.
I know, I know. Why the heck am I talking about crashing weddings? Well, crashing weddings is exactly like crashing conversations online. Bear with me.
Successful Wedding Crashing
To crash a wedding successfully, and by successfully I mean not being asked to leave in the first 15 minutes, you have to be patient. You have to understand your audience and strategically monitor multiple conversations. Identifying opportunities to contribute, and moving quickly and with confidence is also critical for success.
Each new wedding provides a blank canvas. You’re a brand new face without followers or clout (yes real clout!). You only have one chance for first impressions and you have to go with your gut. Contrary to wedding crashing, crashing conversations online can be much less stressful and far more productive. As long as you have had thorough training and conducted the appropriate research. Research that only a seasoned wedding crasher can provide.
The Five Rules of Conversation Crashing
Rule #1: Never crash a conversation and be left behind. Social media monitoring helps you better understand relevant conversations and provides insight about your audience. The specific tool doesn’t necessarily matter as long as you listen before you crash.
Rule #2: Use your real name. Successfully crashing conversations involves authenticity and vulnerability. If you let people know your intentions and crash with finesse, people are generally quite receptive.
Tip: When using your real name, also use a picture of yourself. It’s very important that people can connect with you visually. And remember the picture has to be professional. No lower back tattoos!
Rule #3: Blend in by standing out. Agreeing with everyone is lame and makes you completely forgettable. I’m certainly not suggesting you pull a Kenneth Cole and start hijacking hash tags. However, if you see a post from Gini Dietrich about The 10 Commandments of Online Etiquette, feel free to be tactfully disruptive. Spam can be a great topic of conversation, especially among vegetarians.
Rule #4: Build trust. Building trust can take forever and it can be broken with the simple click of a mouse. If you’re interested in crashing a specific conversation or meeting a specific person, ease your way in to the crash. Start by commenting on blogs, retweeting relevant content you’re passionate about, and building trust organically. Then once you have a rapport and there’s an interesting conversation brewing, crash that conversation with confidence and tact. But remember, never ever ever go for the close (Jim Connolly). If people trust you, they will buy.
Rule #5: Manage Relationships. People who successfully crash conversations have a purpose. They know who they are, why they’re crashing, how they want to strategically crash, and what they want out of the crash. They have determined their purpose and desired outcome. Successfully crashing conversations is a complete waste when relationships are not maintained. My solution, crash conversations consistently and become a regular!
Tip: When looking to crash conversations and be disruptive, it’s not about blasting people and telling them how wrong they are. However, if you disagree with someone first ask permission to offer an opposing perspective and then deliver an opinion or contrary subject matter that allows them to see a different point of view. This promotes engagement and allows for a much richer dialogue which ultimately builds trust.
So next time you’re at a wedding and the party is wicked, take a look around the room, and don’t be surprised if you see… this guy!
Geoff works with Jump-Point, Canada’s leading boutique strategic management consultancy. His focus is on growing the Clarity for the Boss community, the Jump-Point first online business education program for serious entrepreneurs. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or the Clarity for the Boss blog.