Written by Gary Matsuda
You want the job. You need to get the sale. You need to get stuff done and there is so much to do. Who cares about being liked?
Not so fast!
Despite how much we rely on technology to communicate and be productive, deep down we still want to know that others are listening to our needs and value us as people, not projects. Being likeable helps us connect with others by answering some subconscious questions: Do we have something in common? Are we on the same side? Is it possible for us to get along?
Your brain makes ‘friend or foe’ instant judgments on people we meet for the first time. So, unless you are in a profession where you need to appear intimidating, use the pointers below to make yourself more approachable and appear as someone who can be trusted.
Enter Dave Sherman, expert on mixing, mingling and schmoozing, who has 3 best-selling books on networking and sales. For a long time, others thought Dave was likeable just because his dad was that way. But that wasn’t entirely true, he had to learn lessons along the way about connecting with people. He says if we’re not born with it, we don’t have to give up and resign ourselves to be lifelong wallflowers. We all can learn to be likeable – here are his tried and true words of advice:
Tip #1. Put on a smile.
This is the first thing you should do when you arrive at an event. It takes little effort and costs you nothing! Studies have found that those who smile are thought to be warm, friendly, approachable and smart. People will be more likely to respond to you. Let it be natural, show it in your eyes, and you will appear more authentic. Do it early, do it often.
Tip #2. Ask questions.
This suggestion applies whether you are outgoing or an introvert. To get a conversation going and get others to talk, come prepared with questions and you’ll be more comfortable approaching strangers. The other person may have been looking to start a connection so you’ll both overcome nervousness this way. Ask them about how, what, why and when – maybe you can learn something about them.
As they are answering take note of the next tip.
Tip #3. Pay attention.
Listen to their answers and try to find commonality. The mind processes thoughts five times faster than we speak, so be aware of your thoughts while in conversation and resist the temptation to interrupt.
Tip #4. Let them talk.
Try to do less talking about yourself and keep your attention on learning about opportunities. We have the tendency to believe what is going on in our heads is more important, so again fight the temptation to interrupt.
Think of your worst date (or dates). You can probably think of a time when the other person talked about themselves the whole time. You don’t want the other person to do all the talking either! Neither side should dominate the conversation. It’s also OK to end a conversation when it has run its course. Find a break in the exchange and you might say:
“It was a pleasure to meet you, but I would like to meet someone now”
“I’m going to take a restroom break”
“How about those Crab Rangoons, excuse me I’ve got to get some!”
Tip #5. Practice Servant leadership:
Zig Ziglar said, “You will get anything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” And how would you know what others want? (Hint, see tips #2, #3 and #4).
Dave has thought about you. No, not you personally but as a community. At one time you may have been irritated by fake Facebook scam ads. Dave started a scam stoppers website to help others who had the same frustration. He was paid nothing for his work, but he created this because he wanted to help improve the culture of the web. There was no personal gain for him except for the knowledge and satisfaction that he was making a difference, especially when one of those ads got pulled!
Tip #6. Show some personality.
Humanize yourself. In this overused, over hyped digital world, there is a tendency to relax our social skills. During face to face interaction, be intentional and show personal authenticity. You are not your resume. Or your cover letter. Or your LinkedIn profile. Let the real you show, be genuine. If you are more comfortable with books, be proud of that. That can be a good topic for discussion too, ”What have you been reading lately”.
Tip #7. Remember the Golden Rule.
The Golden Rule applies not only when the situation is going well, but it’s especially relevant when things don’t go your way. The job search is tough and one of the worst feelings is having an application rejected. Don’t let it get to you personally and corrupt your attitude. Be prepared to act graciously when things go wrong – even when you have followed all the suggestions here. The next tip should help you look on the positive side.
Tip #8. Use humor…carefully.
Don’t worry if you don’t think you are funny. If you try too hard, it will seem like, well. . . you’re trying to hard. For most of us humor doesn’t come naturally but it too can be practiced and learned. At the very least, always look at the positive side of a situation or conversation. You’ll want to be someone who can add something of value, not find fault.
We’re nervous at networking events because we don’t know what to expect, our defenses are up, yet we’re there to talk to people! No wonder we’re stressed! Humor enables us to relax, let our guard down and allows our brain to be more willing to accept new information. So relax, make a joke, break the ice – people will tend to be more open and possibly share more about themselves. So, laugh a little, learn a lot.
Tip #9. Treat everyone with the same level of kindness.
Dave’s dad was always known to treat everyone with kindness. This includes people who seem to have no decision-making power. However, in sales or a job search, the gatekeeper can be the most important person who can open doors for you – think of them as the first decision maker.
Do this and you’ll build a habit, a good reputation and you’ll feel better too.
Tip #10. Build commonality.
Investigate and research to find personal information. If you’re sitting at someone’s desk, notice personal items, photos of kids, pets, sports and comment on them.
If you have the chance to prepare for a meeting, do your research to find out what you may have in common, such as sports, kids, schools, hobbies, or places.
In person is a great way to use questions, to find out what they do, about their likes, what motivates them and what they do when they are not working.
Anyone can be more likeable if they understand the importance behind it and put effort into improving their first impressions. Learn to be instantly likeable and you’ll open yourself up to opportunities and become known as someone who is easy to work with. What’s not to like about that?
Jo Bryant, Executive Search Strategist
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Jessica Pierce, CEO and Founder of Career Connectors, closed the event by thanking GCU for hosting the event and thanking the volunteers, sponsors and partners who make the Career Connectors events possible. Attendees were encouraged to network and take advantage of the many available resources.
Upcoming event details are available on the Events Page.