#144: How to Be More Likeable and Win More Business (Without Changing Your Personality)

Before I introduce my guest this week, I have a quick announcement.

I’m about to coach a small group of new B2B writers and copywriters who are serious about launching a successful freelance business in 2018.

And I’m looking for some good people who want to make some great things happen. 😉

We’re going to work together to get your business off the ground quickly … and land your first paying client.

If you’d like to learn more, drop me a line at ed@b2blauncher.com and put the word “LAUNCH” in the subject line. I’ll reply to you with all the details.

Can Anyone Be Likeable?

You’ve heard it before:

People do business with people they know, LIKE and trust.

But what exactly does it mean to be likeable? Is it a personality thing? Do you have to act or look a certain way?

Do you have to be charming, wear designer clothes … or have a perfect smile and beautiful teeth?

Not at all! That may have been true back in the 1950s, but these days “likeability” has nothing to do with any of those superficial things.

According to my friend and colleague Michael Katz, anyone can be likeable.

Because likeability is much more about things you do consistently than about your personality or outward appearance.

In this fast-paced interview, Michael explains what you need to do to be perceived as a true likeable expert.

This is one the best interviews we’ve had on this podcast. Don’t miss it!

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself

Michael Katz spends around half of his time as a marketing consultant and half as a coach. His clients are solo professionals, including recruiters, financial planners, consultants, coaches and writers. These solo professionals have to sell “themselves” as opposed to selling a “thing.” In other words, they need to differentiate themselves from other people in the same field.

What’s the role of likeability in business?

Over time, Michael came to understand that most solo professionals need three things to get hired:

1. People have to believe you’re qualified

As solopreneurs, regardless of our qualifications, it’s normal to doubt whether we’re good enough.

But you have to look at things from the perspective of those who might hire you. In their eyes, you just have to reach the “good enough” bar. And if you’re good at what you do, you’ve reached that bar.

If you wait for outside confirmation of your “expert” status, you’ll be waiting a long time.

The day will never come when Forbes will publicly proclaim you an expert in your field.

2. You need to be remembered

You need to do things that keep you top of mind. When a problem arises, you want your prospects to think of you. So you need to stay in touch.

3. You need to be likeable

For many years, Michael underestimated the importance of likeability.

Your likeability impacts how much people will trust you, help you, and pay you.

If you do things to increase your likeability, you’ll get more referrals and business.

People pay a lot of attention to the first point: expertise. They’ll spend a lot of time developing their credentials, polishing their website, etc.

They give some attention to the second point: staying in touch.

But people do almost nothing for the third point: being likeable.

This imbalance presents an opportunity.

There’s more potential upside to developing your likeability than your capability.

How much of “likeability” is about personality?

Anyone can be “likeable.”  You don’t have to have a “magnetic” personality or become an extrovert.

Most people are likable. The problem arises when people market themselves. They stop telling stories. They stop talking about their personal life. They become a two-dimensional business person.

People fear that if they’re too casual or friendly, they won’t be taken seriously. But the opposite is true.

To non-experts, most professionals in any one field look much the same. But everyone can tell the difference between someone who’s likeable and someone who’s not.

At the same time, we all define likeability differently. So it’s about finding clients who find YOU likeable. When you do that, the relationship is smoother—and you get paid more.

What are some practical ways to become a likeable expert?

1. Send handwritten notes

Sending handwritten notes is a hugely underused marketing channel. No one sends mail anymore.

Michael tries to send one handwritten note a week. One note per week isn’t much, but it adds up to 50 a year. And the open rate for handwritten notes is likely 100 percent!

2. Send books as gifts

Sending gifts during the holiday season is okay if it’s expected. But otherwise, why send gifts when everyone else is sending gifts?

Michael likes to gift books to clients when they have questions on specific topics. If Michael knows a good book on the topic, he’ll send a copy via Amazon Prime. He’ll pay extra to have it gift wrapped so that it’s clear that it’s a gift.

He sends about one book per month on an ad hoc basis.

3. Turn down business when you’re not needed (or not a good fit)

Sometimes, when you talk to a prospect, you realize they don’t actually need your help. Maybe all they need is your reassurance that they’re on the right track. Or maybe they need help from someone else.

By turning them down or referring them to someone else, you build trust.

4. Help people who can’t help you

We’re all transaction oriented. But most of the interactions we have aren’t with people who can hire us.

When you hear from people who’re looking for work and want to meet for a cup of coffee, don’t automatically delete their email. Make time for them. It’s a nice thing to do, and they’ll remember it. And one day, they’ll get a job and remember that you took the time to meet with them.

Likeability is a deliberate brand building exercise. If you’re too busy trying to figure out who’s going to give you money today, you’re going to miss out.

It requires a leap of faith. When you do something likeable, rarely does it come back to you instantly. But you have to have faith that, at a minimum, you’re making the world a better place—even if you can’t help everybody.

To quote Andy Stanley, founder of Northpoint Ministries: “Do for ONE person what you wish you could do for EVERYONE.”

5. Send stay-in-touch emails

Compile a list of all the people you know. The people where, if you called them, you wouldn’t have to introduce yourself.

Then, deliberately send “stay-in-touch” emails. Send three to four emails a day. Don’t sell or promote anything. Just say hello and keep the relationship alive.

Keep track of the ones you send. You can do this in Outlook or in a spreadsheet. Michael uses Contactually. People are always happy that you stayed in touch. And you’re paving the way for the occasional “ask” if needed.

How can we make this stuff more habitual?

Micheal uses a tick sheet to keep track of his activities. He constructed it in an Excel spreadsheet that contains 26 weeks. He prints out the spreadsheet so he has the satisfaction of physically ticking off what he’s done and can see his progress.

Tell us about your new book!

Michael’s new book is The Likeable Expert: 121 Insights to Start Your Day and Grow Your Business.

The book is filled with short insights that you can use every day to improve and grow your business.

Where can listeners learn more about you and your work?

Michael has a custom landing page for High Income Business Writing podcast listeners:  http://michaelkatz.com/ed

There, you can sign up to download some of his book, get the tick sheet and subscribe to Michael’s newsletter.

You can also connect with Michael at michaelkatz.com or via Blue Penguin Development.

And finally, check out our other interviews with Michael:

Email Newsletters: A Steady and Lucrative Writing Opportunity

Why You Should Start a Newsletter (and How to Keep it From Being a Drag)