One of the awful — or wonderful — things about marketing is that clients often send their legal business to people they just “like” and justify why they did it after the fact. It is awful if you are not naturally likeable and wonderful if you are.
To be clear, this often doesn’t happen if it is a “bet-the-company” or “bet-your-life” situation. In these types of situations, clients are often caring a lot more about your skills and competence than your likability. However, these bet-the-company situations are a lot less frequent and, accordingly, being likeable or not can be the difference between a successful career and a dud.
Clients and customers are people — just like you and me — and they want to connect with the people they do business with. Of course, they are hiring a lawyer, but they might have to spend a lot of time with you and who doesn’t want to spend time with someone she likes rather than someone she kind of tolerates or doesn’t like at all?
Being a person someone “likes” is easy for some and an almost impossible task for others. Different personalities can conflict with each other, people can read body language wrong or even take something you meant lighthearted seriously, and it’s almost impossible to take back a first impression.
So how do you do this?
The real answer is I don’t know, but since it is so important I will stick my neck out here and give you my best thoughts.
At the outset, I believe the most important thing a person can do to be liked is to be empathetic and show caring and sensitivity to the other person.
In this regard, it is critical to make clear how much you care about your client’s business and how much you care for the client as an individual.
For me, at least, faking this is impossible. I am not a great liar, although I am proud to say that I once completely lied to my wife’s face and fooled her 100 percent when I was throwing her a surprise party and one of her friends blew the surprise.
I actually do care — and I care a lot — about my clients and their businesses and their happiness and their success. I like to think I am cool, wonderful, and interesting, but even if the clients were to think that I am odd, strange, or off in some manner, I think they would feel the message that I care. In other words, I get across the message of empathy and that I really will look out for them.
Here are some additional practical thoughts about how to increase your likeability or make yourself likeable if you think this might be a problem for yourself:
- Consider trying to get some super-honest feedback about how you are perceived. You may be an extremely caring person, but maybe it is not coming across in meetings and other interactions. Perhaps if you really ask your closest friends and colleagues and make clear that you (really) won’t shoot the messenger, you might get an honest analysis from third parties about what people are taking away from your personal interactions. You could use this to make a change if needed.
- Be a genuine person and think deeply about what that really means. Think about how you let your family or friends know that you care about them and do the same things with your clients and customers. Consider why does your wife/husband/significant other/family member/best friend care about you? What do you do to engender those feelings? Perhaps it might be the same with clients.
- Read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People a bunch of times and try to put the concepts into action. I have mentioned in other articles that Warren Buffett has read it many times and he hasn’t done half bad.
- Talk about the interests of your clients rather than your interests. Show sincere interest in them as people as well as their businesses.
- Ask about the personal hobbies and interests of those you meet. Maybe you will have an overlap. If not, you can always show a sincere interest and forward articles and other information about their hobbies.
- See/watch what others do who are just plain old “popular.” How do they interact with people? What do they do? You can’t necessarily copy other people but you can learn from them.
- Read everything you can about the subject of being likeable and make it a major focus.
My Book on Power Niches Will be Published in Just a Few Months
Many of you have enjoyed my Power Niche Marketing series. As you know now, my day job is marketing — marketing — and more marketing. That is what I do. In this vein I have developed the concept and coined the phrase, Power Niche, to delineate the incredible (bargaining and pricing) power that one has in becoming a powerhouse in a small market niche, as opposed to having little or no bargaining or pricing power in a larger market.
This Power Niche concept works perfectly well in the legal world or in any servicing industry.
I have written a book about this — and all my other marketing secrets and ideas. It is called:
If You Want to Get Rich, Build a Power Niche
It is being published by Morgan James Publishing with a target publishing date of October of this year.
If you are trying to grow a legal career, my book will be helpful to you.
In my book, I synthesize all that I have learned in the past 10 years of studying marketing.
The book is for people who feel like they are just losing and want to start winning. And it is also for people who are winning and smart enough to know that no matter how successful you are, you can always learn from others to be even more successful.
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Click here to see a preview of the book’s content.