Is it the “X” factor?
How do you move up the ladder in life, both professionally and socially? Number one reason in my view is the Likeability Factor. When you do business with people, you most likely choose who your partners are because you like them, not necessarily because they are the best at a certain skill set. When you go out on the weekends, who do you hang out with? People you like! Those are the same people you call your friends.
Time is finite, so why bother spending it with people you don’t like? Here are a few steps that will help increase your likeability factor and hopefully open up a few new doors for you. Enjoy!
Step 1 – Master the Art of the Conversation
How do you get strangers to like you? First things first – you have to talk to them in person and start building a rapport. How do you do that? Master the art of the conversation! Being a great conversationalist is more about listening than talking. It’s a well known fact that people love to talk about themselves. Since we all know that’s true, it’s your job to encourage people to talk, tell their stories, be themselves, and have a good time. When people have an open invitation to share what’s on their mind and you’re receptive to listening to them, they will feel good about you because they actually had someone pay attention and hear them out. In this world we live in today where our attention span runs for about three seconds, people will actively seek out someone to pay attention to them and listen to their stories.
To become the master of the conversation it’s not just listening, but asking engaging questions. The first part is to get the person to open up and share a story about something that recently happened to them, or something on their mind other than work. Building a rapport does not start by asking people “What do you do?” After 5pm, the vast majority of us much prefer not to talk about work. We’d rather talk about life. So ask questions about what’s going on in their life! Recent vacations? Relationships? Events? Food? Hobbies? Interests? There are a million other things to talk about other than work. Side note: don’t bring up politics, religion, or other sensitive topics when first talking to people.
From there it’s asking follow up questions that pertain to the topic. Example – your recent vacation to Iceland. Here are some follow up questions: How long was your vacation? What was the highlight of your trip? Would you recommend me going there? Where was your favorite spot on the island? What type of food did you eat? How were the locals? Were they nice to you? How much did it cost to fly there? These are all open ended, engaging questions that make it seem like you’re genuinely interested in the conversation. When you ask questions like this, people will open up because they know you’re paying attention to them.
Step 2 – Find Common Ground
People like being surrounded by others who share the same opinion, mindset, and hobbies or interests. It’s why clubs exist – because they bring together people who all share the same values. When talking to a person for a first time, try to find something you have in common and then focus the conversation on that. Example – where are you from? Oh, you’re from Michigan, I’m from Indiana! Where did you grow up? And go to college? When did you leave? Etc. Etc. That’s one of the easiest questions you can ask to get the ball rolling. Finding common ground based on where you’re from or your college is an easy way to connect with people quickly, even if you find out people are from a rival school or state. This tactic is just a conversation starter and you can use it to move the conversation in any which direction from there.
Step 3 – Smile and Laugh
Your smile is worth a million dollars and it’s most likely one of the first things someone else sees. So use it to your advantage! By smiling, laughing, and having a good time, you are going to invite other people to come to you, and how great is that? Imagine that you don’t have to work to meet people because they want to come to you because they see how much fun you are. That’s the real trick into becoming the most likeable person anywhere you go. People want to have fun, and if you can show that off in your facial expressions in a genuine manner then you are going to win. No one remembers the person who didn’t smile, didn’t laugh, and didn’t have any fun. Use this to your advantage and you will do big things.
Always remember that when closing conversations to obtain necessary contact info, whether that’s a business card, asking for a phone number, or adding them on a social media platform. From there it’s up to you to follow up and ask for a 1-1 in person meeting such as coffee or lunch to learn about the person more and start building a genuine friendship. Making a best friend typically doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time, so remember to set your expectations at a realistic level when connecting with people.
You never know who you’re going to meet, so get out there, smile, talk to people and have fun!