I had the pleasure of attending the 41st Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Phoenix Award Dinner in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, September 24, 2011. While there I got the opportunity to meet (or interrupt depending on how you look at it) NBA player Dwyane Wade (@DwyaneWade) and his actress girlfriend Gabrielle Union (@ItsGabrielleU). Based upon my experience, I wanted to provide some helpful tips on how to properly interrupt a VIP’s dinner plans with technology. —Hajj Flemings
Attend the Right Event: To connect with celebrities or any person of note you have to attend the right high profile events. Once there you then have to establish a strategy to survey the room to see who’s there and how to make a connection because they’re not going to come to you. If possible do your homework prior to the event to identify key people that will be in attendance. Most importantly, don’t try to meet everybody. The event I attended cost $750 a ticket and it was the third time that I got up and walked around that I identified Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union. You must act swiftly!
Walk with Confidence: If you noticed in the picture on the first page the security guard was giving me that look like, Who is that guy? They key is to walk with confidence past the security guards (act like you own the place, but don’t come off arrogant) and have your one liner ready to address right off the bat why you’re connecting with the VIP. In my case I didn’t have to use my one liner but I was ready and I acted like I knew DWade even though he wouldn’t know me from Adam’s housedog. The key is you have to get through the gatekeepers.
Note: Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union were extremely polite and cordial. Considering I was probably the 100th person to interrupt their dinner that evening, they were beyond nice and they didn’t have to be, but it was much appreciated.
Be Camera Ready: Ideally, you want to have a smartphone with Internet capability that allows you to upload the photo in real-time. This allows you to share your celebrity moment with your online community. You can use a variety of photo sharing apps like Instagram or just upload the photo into Twitter or Facebook via a third party app. Worst-case scenario you can just use a digital camera, but in either case be ready to snap a photo quickly.
Work with a Tech Savvy Friend: It always helps having a tech savvy friend (i.e. @WayneSutton) on board because this is not a one-person job. You have to get in and get out, so using an innocent bystander who is a tech novice as your cameraman (or woman) is a recipe for disaster as they can ruin your once-in-a-lifetime photo opp.
Apologize Digitally: Apologize digitally by posting a simple tweet about crashing the subject(s) with a photo request. This serves three purposes: (1) It communicates to them that you really appreciate their time, (2) It demonstrates that you are tech savvy, and (3) Most importantly, it creates social proof to either share on your Facebook wall or tweet. (If they are on Twitter look up their Twitter handle to confirm that you have the right account, who knows you might even get a high-profile RT.)
Use the Content for Business: Finally, remember your celebrity moment is a business opportunity so ultimately you want to have a strategy on what you’re going to do with the content. The final step is to take the content that you captured and create blog post and share it appropriately through your social network channels.