Reflected Glory: Revealing one of my self-created social engineering tricks

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Will Tarkington


Ok I promised more on Social Geometry but I’m finding it hard to draw out the relationships so instead I present to you Reflected Glory.

What is reflected glory?

I came up with the term when I was meeting with people one step removed from famous people. That is to say I might know John who himself is an average person. John however knows a famous person in this case it was a musician.

There was some level of nervousness on the part of John and I realized that he was worried I’d upset his relationship with his famous friend. So I told him that I wasn’t interested in him for his “reflected glory”. I.E. I wasn’t using him to get to his friend (which I really wasn’t) and we met and it was fine and I spent most of my time hanging out with a 4’10 inch female drummer who was awesome. However I digress.

Eventually I decided that if he was nervous there must be a reason or some level of exploitation that could be executed. As I thought about the system and how to best utilize it for my own purposes I came up with the social engineering process I call “Reflected Glory”.


Recently I gave a talk at Baythreat with the great Bob Lord (@boblord) on cold reading. Now for those that do not know Bob works for Twitter and as when I submitted our talk his name and company were on the proposal.

When we were accepted I happen to be giving another talk at the HTCIA group where one of the @baythreat founders was present. He reviewed with me all of the speaker proposals he had. In particular was one on Social Engineering by one @hacktress09 or Valerie Thomas a Social Engineer out of DC.

I won’t claim that this had any impact on the selection process but it may have. Essentially I vouched for Valerie’s talk because I’ve known her for a while and she is awesome.  However because I am associated to Bob thus my vouching for Valerie was in a subtle way using Bob and his association to Twitter.

TO BE CLEAR I don’t know that this affected the selection process

The details:

So again to be clear I have no idea of that process was influenced at all by this trick. I can tell you that I have used the trick in other situations and it works well.

One of the reasons this technique is one I’m willing to give away is that there is very little risk to the reflected person. In the case above if for some reason Valerie’s talk didn’t go well (it did go well mind you) _I_ was the person giving the recommendation. Bob would never even be mentioned.

So to do this trick you need someone with a high social status that you can be associated too. It doesn’t have to be a close association just one that is known. You then simply state with authority your own opinion once the relationship has been recently established (so that it is in their short term memory).

So you may remind people you are working with so and so, or that you had lunch with such and such. Instead of name dropping you have to make it contextual in my case it was, “Bob and I are really looking forward to talking at Baythreat.” And then a few minutes later, “Oh Valerie yes I know her, her talks are really good.”

You can even see the social system at work here that is being used. It’s been used by criminals for ages,

“Hey are you Smith?”

“Yes who sent you?”

“I’m friends with Frank.”

“Ok what is it you want?”

I simply found a way to extend it one more social length.

So what you want to do is see which if your associations carry high social currency values. In my case I was reflecting Twitter or at least the subtle association between Twitter and myself.

I won’t go so far as to say this is the power technique you have been looking for. It is however so subtle and so risk free I would encourage anyone to use it.

  • Other places that this technique is good for:
  • Bars specifically getting into, better seats for, or establishing a zone of control in.
  • Getting better service in restaurants.
  • Bypassing lines at concerts or nightclubs.
  • Getting that extra person in when you have 2 but not 3 tickets etc.

Hope its usefull


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