The Influence Skills to Persuade
Influence skills enable you to persuade others to take some action.
You can learn influence skills from countless sources. One of the best ways is to observe persuasive people in action.
Enter the professional party crashers.
In order to gain access to exclusive events and VIP parties, these guys need to have superior abilities to influence situations and persuade the gatekeepers to let them in.
Influence on this level requires social intelligence, confidence, understanding how people make decisions, and persistence.
Let’s take a look at how they do it, and the lessons we can apply to our own influence skills.
I used to manage huge fashion events in New York (multi-day events at huge venues with 3,000+ attendees). So I have seen these kinds of tactics work firsthand.
(Note: whatever your ethical stance on party crashing or getting “a $100,000 ticket for free,” the fact is we can learn important lessons in influence and persuasion from these examples. How you use those skills, whether for good or evil, is completely up to you.)
Yes Theory: Crashing Hollywood Movie Premiers
Here, the guys from Yes Theory manage to get into two Hollywood movie premiers.
While seemingly simple, there are some important lessons for the aspiring influencer.
1. Analyze the Situation From a Safe Distance
For the Arrival movie premier (0:30), the guys drive around the area to get a sense of the security and where the check-in tables are.
This is a crucial step. Before you jump in and try to influence a situation, you need to first understand the full scope of what you’re facing.
Asking innocuous questions like “where is the check in for the party?” will not raise any red flags.
2. Look the Part
In their successful attempts (Arrival and La La Land), the guys are overdressed.
In suits and ties with fresh haircuts, they are better dressed than almost everyone else in the line, including the staff.
These outfits convey social status and a certain amount of wealth.
You’ve heard the phrase “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
It’s the same idea here.
If you dress like a VIP, and act like a VIP, then most people will probably assume you are a VIP.
3. Momentum: Build on “Yes”es
Once Thomas got his ticket to Arrival, it was easy to get his friend Matt access.
He just had to tell the staffer “there was a mix-up with his ticket too.”
In this case, the woman has already accepted Thomas’ story. So from there, it would be silly for her to suddenly start questioning it.
It is much easier to just keep going along with the narrative she has bought into, and approve the second guy.
4. Positive Attitude and Friendliness
The guys are relentlessly positive and upbeat. They are there to have a great time and spread good energy.
A positive, fun and care-free attitude is very attractive. And in many cases, it’s irresistible.
Especially for people under pressure (which includes doormen, bouncers, security guards, and registration staff).
5. Take Advantage of Hectic Situations
For the Arrival event, the staffer at the check-in table is under pressure. She needs to make a lot of decisions quickly.
When she sees a well-dressed, confident, smooth talker like Thomas, who has a believable story, the easier path is for her to just accept the story and roll with it.
Similarly, the decision-maker on the phone for the La La Land premier probably has a lot on her plate. After some simple questioning, she just approves the request to put them on the list.
Recognize when speed outweighs accuracy for the decision-makers.
These are often opportunities to slip in your request and get a quick approval.
Simon Wilson: Influence Skills to Crash Exclusive Events
Simon Wilson is another master at getting access to exclusive parties, VIP lounges and high-profile events:
Starting at 10:45 in the above video, Simon manages to sneak into the Houston Astros baseball game and VIP lounge.
He starts out with step #1: analyzing the situation and weighing his options. He sees the security situation at each entrance.
We also see him use #4 (friendliness) and #5 (exploiting hectic situations).
6. Stick to Your Story, and Make it Believable
Simon creates a believable story and sticks with it. His story is that he was already inside and “just stepped out to make a phone call.”
He doesn’t change the story after the first rejection. He just keeps telling the same story to multiple staffers until someone says “yes.” That’s all it takes.
In order to convince others, you need to have confidence in your story. Don’t keep changing it, stick with it.
And if your story is really complicated and unbelievable, you are also less likely to succeed.
7. Have Urgency and Confidence
After getting into the stadium, Simon then manages to sneak into the VIP lounge.
How does he do it? In his own words: “I’m just gonna walk in with confidence as if I was already in there.”
He has no hesitation. He moves with urgency and conviction. This makes him believable. The people at the door just roll with it.
Carry yourself with confidence and total self-assuredness.
Oftentimes, the best way to influence is to not even ask, but to just assume that you will get the result.
Simon’s biggest feat was sneaking into the Mayweather vs McGregor fight in 2017:
Once again, he did hours of research and analysis beforehand (rule #1).
He asked innocent questions to staff and security guards to get the lay of the land, and got a name to use from the guest list.
He learned the key insight: he would need the press credentials to gain access.
This also gave him his believable story (rule #6): that he was a photographer from Fox.
Since he was claiming to be a member of the press, his camera equipment was perfect (rule #2: look the part).
He was totally friendly and positive (rule #4).
And finally, when the time came to get the credentials, he moved quickly and grabbed the opportunity (rule #5: exploit hectic situations, and rule #7: have urgency and confidence).
Simon described his whole process of sneaking into the Mayweather vs McGregor fight here:
Finding the Gaps in the System
Huge events may seem intimidating. But the bigger the event, the more layers of bureaucracy.
It’s a basic paradox of systems: the larger and more powerful the system, the more gaps there are likely to be.
The system could be a corporation, an event, or a country.
As complexity increases, holes in the security coverage also increase.
Your influence skills will increase massively when you recognize this and start strategically testing for the gaps.
Of course, it’s not just gaining access to events.
These principles apply to any tough situation, group or person that you are trying to influence and persuade.
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