If your job is to sell something or lead someone, you have to be liked. Not by everyone, but by most people. And if not by most people, than at least the right people.
Unless you're Steve Jobs. Or Jack Welch. But enough people had to like them too, at some point.
In business settings, do most people you meet like you? Why? Is it your good looks? Bubbly personality? Command of the alphabet? Smile? Taste for fine wine?
Again, in a business setting, what are the characteristics that you're most attracted to you when you meet someone?
It's important to have an understanding of why people like you and why you like them. By doing so, you have a much better chance of being more likeable and, therefore, making more and better connections. Pretty important if you're a sales producer or business owner looking to grow a business.
Believe me, I don't connect with everyone. Not even close. No surprise there! But I do tend to connect with most of the people that I want to connect with -- based on their work, attitude and behavior. For those that may not like me, I tend to not like them either. That's just the way it goes.
It's difficult to fix the dynamics between those that you must see through family and social obligations. Unfortunately, that exists for everyone. You can pick your friends but you can't pick your family.
But there are some ways for you to be more likeable in business settings.
Focus on the other person
Show an interest! Ask great questions about their work. Outside activities. Favorite sports teams. What they do in their spare time. Hobbies. Ask lots of how questions. How did you get started in the manufacturing industry? How did you pick your major in college? How did you train for your marathon? How are you marketing your business? How are you generating referrals? How are you getting your clients?
Don't take too much stage time
Keep your answers short, sweet and to the point. Don't ramble. Be aware that a conversation is a two way street and it's important that there be a steady back and forth. Do you know people that you're reluctant to talk to because you can't get a word in edgewise? If not, it could be YOU!
Downplay your accomplishments
It's so easy to brag about that book you've written, all the clients you have, the cases you're working on and all of the success you've achieved. I remember meeting someone at an event and when I asked how he was doing he replied, "Playing too much golf and making too much money." Those that take the time to tell you about their success always makes me wonder. I've found the most successful business people are humble when talking about their success. Be one of them.
Recognize their accomplishments
Be excited about the accomplishments of those you meet. Again, ask lots of how questions. The more interested in others you are, the more interesting you become. I love talking to humble people that have succeeded in most aspects of their life. I genuinely want to learn about their training regiment, sales approach, marketing plan and best practices on pretty much everything. What a great way to have an interesting conversation, learn and maybe implement a new idea. But hey, that's me.
Pick and choose the opinions that you share
There is a time and place to talk about your politics and other charged issues that find their ways into the newspapers. The news is filled with horrible stories. In many cases, it's best to pick and choose your discussion points and share your views with people with whom you already have a strong relationship. Your world views on everything might be too much too soon and could create an uncomfortable dynamic in current and future conversations. Hey, but that's just my opinion.
It's never good form to complain, but sometimes it can be a lot of fun! Seriously, who wants to be around complainers? Other complainers! Most complainers are never happy and don't do a lot to improve their situation. Rather than complain, ask for advice. Mention that you're struggling with something and ask those you respect for perspective. Just be careful what you ask for! It's always best if you start getting the same advice over and over again to start putting it to good use or you may stop getting good advice.
Give advice only when asked
As a consultant, my first approach is always to solve the problem. A good friend of mine refers to it as STP -- solve the problem! But I've learned over the years that more often than not it's best to shut up and simply listen. Some people just need to vent. But if you think they're looking for advice, ask them permission to share it if you think it will help. "It sounds like you have a challenge with that. I have a lot of experience in that area. May I make a suggestion?"
Keep the conversation light and laugh. Make the topics about fun things. During one networking mixer I attended, I got into great conversations about the basketball finals, hockey finals, poetry, fitness, diet, vacations spots, going back to school, an interesting medical treatment (no, really!), celebrity look-alikes, new movies, season finales and long bubbly-bubbly baths (kidding). And that was just one night! The point is, if you talk about fun topics you will have fun. And isn't that what it's all about? By the way, it's easy to exchange business with fun people.
Practice these simple approaches and I guarantee the people you meet will be more likeable too!