Three Easy Ways to be More Likable

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Hi. This is Mo Bunnell at Bunnell Idea Group. We’ve got a really interesting video for you today and it’s on likability. Likability is extremely important as a business development professional.

I want to talk about two pieces of research that prove it. One is by Jerry Berger. Jerry Berger, in multiple studies, found that people spend more money with people that they like and that it’s largely subconscious. We don’t even realize we’re doing it. That is very important. The second researcher, Barbara Gerbert, found that physicians spend more time with patients that they like.

If you put those two pieces of research together, we find that folks spend more time with people they like and they spend more money with the people they like. Here’s the deal. A lot of folks think that likeability is innate. You’ve either got it or you don’t. There’s nothing you can do. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In this video, we’re going to show you three simple things that you can do that will increase your likeability. But first, we want to give you a simple and memorable example of why likeability matters.

We’re standing in my backyard in Atlanta, Georgia, and in this pasture, there are four four-legged animals. If likeability didn’t matter at all, each of those animals would get about a quarter of the attention, 25%, right? That couldn’t be further from the truth. One of these animals, one of these pets gets 95% of the attention. People change their route around town to stop by and see him. They stay longer, they have a blast, they ask how he’s doing. Let me introduce you to Louie Hamilton.

Why is Louie likable? Louie’s likable because when you walk up to this pasture, wherever he’s at, he’s the first animal to come to you. He runs across the pasture when you walk up and greets you and wants to hang out with you. He nuzzles with you. He’s cute. He does fun things like tricks. He’ll grab a lead rope from one of the horses and lead them around the pasture. It’s absolutely hilarious.

What a donkey does to become likable is a little different than what a human does. Miniature donkeys are a little different than humans. We can do different things than they can do. But here are three simple ways that you can improve your likeability.

The first thing is based on the science of Jerry Berger and his research. It’s really important. What he found in multiple studies is that commonality is highly correlated to likeability. We like people we have things in common with. Other experts have found that the more uncommon the commonality, the better. If I’m standing with another male human being, we’ve got something in common, but we share that with half of the rest of the population, too. The more uncommon the commonality, the better. If that same individual went to the exact same New Order concert in 1988 on the Technique Tour in Chicago and we found that we were a few rows apart from each other, now we’ve got a bond. That weird uncommon commonality would quickly bring us together. That’s very important.

The second thing that is very important is mutual benefit. Adam Grant and his research out of Penn found that we have the deepest connections with people that not only help us, but that we help as well. That’s very important for business development professionals and we’ll give you a few tips in a little bit to help enhance that. We not only want to help our client, but we want to ask for help. But we’ll talk more about that in a second.

The third thing is frequency of interactions. This is one of the most studied psychological phenomena of all time. The research actually started in 1876 and the idea is called the mere exposure effect. The mere exposure to something multiple times over and over again has a high correlation to us liking it. This works with products and services and it works with people, too. We have to design enough frequent, valuable interactions with our clients. We have to stay top of mind. The more that we stay with that, the more that we will become likable.

Here are your three takeaways that you can implement right away that are simple and can increase your likability. First thing, commonality. Ask your clients deeper questions on what they’re doing. Don’t just take the simple answer on the beginning of a conference call, that, “Hey, we had a great weekend.” Ask them why it was great. Ask them one thing that was great about it. When they talk about, “Hey, I’m going to be on vacation this week,” ask where they’re going. Ask questions about what they’re doing so you can find potential bonds.

On the flip side, offer things that you’re doing. Don’t just say, “Hey, I’ve got a busy weekend coming up.” Say what you’re doing instead of saying, “Oh, I can’t talk from 8 to 10 a.m. on Thursday because…” Tell the client what you’re doing. You might find that you have a bond.

The second thing, Adam Grant’s research on mutual benefit. For some reason in business development professionals, we tend to only want to add value to our clients. That’s important. Of course keep doing that. But also it’s important for you to ask for help. Ask for that introduction to another person. Ask for feedback on your plan to move through the organization. Ask for their help reviewing the proposal you’d like to send for them. The more that you ask for the help, the more help you will get, and it gives you an opportunity to say thank you over and over again. That mutual benefit is very important. Don’t just only add value to your clients, but ask for help in return and you’ll find your relationships deepen very quickly. It’s really important.

That last piece of research leads us to our third tip, frequency of interactions. It is very important that you have ongoing, frequent interactions with your clients. Design an experience so that you’re top of mind. Don’t just add value in one big chunk a year, but rather spread those pieces of value out over the year. Find a way to stay top of mind by adding value, even if it’s small, with little things like asking how something’s going. How did the meeting go? Here’s an article you might like. Think of ways to always be adding value as frequently as you possibly can.

Well, as always, we hope that you enjoyed this video series and especially this one. It was a lot of fun for us to film. Do remember that we’re not asking you to grow a beard, be fuzzy, and walk up on all fours to your clients, but rather do the things humans do to become more likable. You’ll see a big improvement in your client relationships when you do these things. As always, we hope that these videos help you help your clients succeed.