First, I guess I should point out this is not about increasing the “likes” on your Facebook page. You’ll have to go elsewhere for that. This edition of the Monthly Memo is about getting the audience to like you – as in connect with you – in a way that is really at the core of most human interaction.
Before we launch into it, however, just how important is this like stuff? I mean, come on, it’s a cold, cruel world out there, right? This is business, after all, and the decisions are really made on the facts – the data – the evidence. Saying it’s “at the core of most human interaction” is just a bit dramatic. Or is it?
After coaching business teams that have won a billion dollars’ worth of projects I am more convinced than ever the “like factor” plays a huge role in decision making – and always has. The question is how do you do that exactly? How do you get them to like you?
The More You Know Them… – When I am preparing a team for an important interview one of the first questions I ask is “How well do we know these people?” Many organizations go through elaborate steps to make sure you won’t know the decision makers you will be appearing in front of during the interview process. (Reporters and editors like the same edge – they won’t show all of their cards or can switch out a reporter part through coverage of a big story.) But you can still work hard to understand the history – the DNA – of the organization you are dealing with. It’s huge! The more you know about them the more you’ll be able to talk about things important to them, instead of yammering on about yourself (which happens WAY too often).
Better Preparation = Being Yourself – Once you know something about the people on the other side, then you need to make sure you are “yourself” when telling your story. When I say “be yourself” I often mean, “What are you like when you are at your very best?” Then we try to figure a way to “bottle” that! What are you like when you talk about something you are passionate about? What are you like when you are “on?” That’s the “you” we are looking for – and it’s different for everyone. It doesn’t mean you are over-the-top or crazy with energy. It means you know your material and therefore are your best, most natural self. That’s who we need to show up at the interview! Strong prep work gets people to the place where they are ready to “knock it out of the park” even if that means coming across with a softer sell when that’s what will work with this audience (see point one).
Geez, can you just smile?! – Finally, the single biggest piece of advice I end up handing out day after day, year after year – from CEO’s to my graduate students: Please smile! It happens because there is a lot on the line and we get serious and somber and aren’t very likeable! We miss the whole point if we don’t remember the audience wants us to be solid and knowledgeable, but they also want to like us, as well. (Even when the job is a tough, serious one – the decision makers want to know you’ll be a good person to work with.) So remember to smile once in a while. Look like you actually enjoy doing your work and you’ll be surprised how far it can take you.
Please follow along through the month @CaryPfeffer
Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting, www.clear-comm.net, a Scottsdale, AZ communications consulting firm that helps people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.