Being Likeable

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.

Indeed, my proposition is that I can help “anyone” who has the desire to become a great salesman and/or a great marketer if she/he just follows the outline in my book.  Truly!

Click here to see a preview of the book’s content.

You can follow me on Twitter @BStachenfeld or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Power Niche Marketing: The Third (Marketing) Threebie – Knowledge Is Power

In my last two articles, I explained that when I need to remind myself of the most important basic marketing things to do, I am mindful of the three basic items, which I call the “Threebies.” In my last two articles, I wrote about the first two Threebies”:

The importance of “being enthusiastic”when marketing and meeting new people.

The importance of “getting out and about.”

In this article, I will talk about the last Threebie, which is:

Knowledge is Power

Ultimately, you have to have knowledge of something, or you aren’t that useful. Indeed, when you get right down to it, people, whether or not they are really thinking about it analytically, generally want you around if you are useful or potentially useful to them, and generally don’t really care that much if you are around if you aren’t that useful.

Consider when you were a kid. You were someone everyone wanted to be with because:

You always knew where the party was.

You were smart and could help with homework.

 

One way or another, there was something useful about you that made people want to be with you.

Obviously, what we are talking about here is much more sophisticated; however, you are trying to create something of use that makes you worth talking to or having around. For marketing purposes, that “something” is your “knowledge” of a topic that is of interest — or of use — to the people you want to have around you.

How do you get knowledge to have power? I will say now that you should pick an area of the industry in which you work and learn everything there is to know about it, so that you are a complete compendium of useful and cutting-edge information. This of course is what I call a “Power Niche,” as per the various articles I have written and will write.

For example, I am a real estate lawyer. So I read every single thing I can put my hands on pertaining to the real estate industry. Of course, I read the Wall Street Journal, but I also read books, publications, blogs, magazines and everything else I can find that deals with the real estate industry and/or the players in that industry. For example, I have my assistant send me any article on real estate that appears anywhere. That way, I am a wealth of information about real estate. It is astonishing how much I know and keep learning in my real estate niche. I have made myself very useful to be with because I know what everyone is doing and what is going on.

So if you are one of my clients, or someone I hope will be my client someday, it is obvious after speaking to me for a short period of time that I know a ton about the real estate industry and that I am able to provide value to you and I will be an extremely useful source of information, guidance, and advice.

Also, just to be clear, I am not out for “power” in the classic sense, to have the ability to push people around and lord it over my subjects. That simply isn’t my style, and it is not at all what I am talking about here. I am referring to the “power” to be useful. Indeed, it is great to have “power” to help your friends and your clients achieve their goals.

So, the next time you decide to market, remember to “Get Out and About,” to “Be Enthusiastic,” and to relentlessly seek knowledge because “Knowledge is Power.”

There may be a special fourth step or a “Fourbie” as I call it, so stay tuned…

Power Niche Marketing: The Second (Marketing) Threebie – A Very Simple One

In my last article, I explained that when I need to remind myself of the most important basic marketing things to do, I am mindful of the three basic items, which I call the “Threebies.” I previously discussed the first Threebie, which is to “Get Out and About!”  In this article, I will talk about the second Threebie.

The second Threebie is very simple:  Be Enthusiastic!

Yes, just that. Be enthusiastic! That is all I am advocating here. So far these Threebies are pretty easy, aren’t they?  Just get out and about and be enthusiastic. Anyone could do that, couldn’t they?

I can tell you this — no one wants a sad sack around. Or someone that just drones on and on. Have you ever been to a party or a group setting or just gone out to lunch with friends or co-workers? Who is the guy you just don’t want to sit next to or hang out with?  Of course there are a fair number of undesirable personal traits that people could have, but someone dull and droning and boring and negative is hardly going to get you to think: “Boy, I want to talk with that guy.”

On the other hand, enthusiastic people are such a thrill. Even if the person you are with is just talking about Band Camp, the fact that he loves it beyond imagination makes people pay attention and find that person exciting and interesting, maybe to your surprise.

This second Threebie – Be Enthusiastic! – is straight out of the Dale Carnegie course I took. It is discussed in the book How to Win Friends and Influence People (affiliate link), but they recognized its importance and built an entire course around this seemingly simple concept, in order to help people… well, win friends and influence people.

Let’s make time for a dorky drill here that I learned from the Dale Carnegie course. I use this often if I have a big meeting or a big pitch or I am attending something where I am on stage or have to make a strong, and good, impression on someone. It could even be an internal meeting at my law firm.

I, together with my colleagues that are going to the pitch or the meeting, repeat this five times, out loud and not whispering either:

If I act enthusiastic, I will be enthusiastic 
If I act enthusiastic, I will be enthusiastic 
If I act enthusiastic, I will be enthusiastic 
If I act enthusiastic, I will be enthusiastic 
If I act enthusiastic, I will be enthusiastic

Go ahead and try this yourself now. And don’t whisper either, say it out loud, and say it five times in a row. Okay, you feel like an idiot, right?

Now, for extra credit, find someone nearby and get him or her to do it with you. I bet you are laughing at each other for being so foolish.

However, is your mood different than it was before you did this exercise?  The answer is: “Of course!”  It is just about impossible to do this drill without your mood going from whatever it was to a higher, and more enthusiastic, plane. It is just about impossible.

As stated, my partners and I do it. We start laughing at ourselves – at what idiots we are making of ourselves, but by the time we are done we are jolly and happy and loose and smiling and in the greatest of moods and – almost always – our meeting goes just great.

Go ahead and try it before you go out and about.

Back to my main point, which is about the importance of being enthusiastic.  Sometimes people say you should just be yourself and, of course, that is true in part.  You can’t fake who you are. But if you are naturally dull, boring, uninteresting and unenthusiastic, then it is time to do something about it. I bet your entire life will get a lot better.

In this regard, a woman named Amy Cuddy has an incredible TED Talk called “Fake it Till You Make it.” This is well worth watching, as she gives one of the most inspirational speeches I have ever heard. She talks about “power poses” and other ways to rev up your enthusiasm. The point here is that even if you feel plain old stupid on this concept, if you “fake” being enthusiastic enough times, it will just happen that you will in fact become enthusiastic. That is what that silly drill above is doing; it is tricking your mind into uplifting your mood.

Even in your writing and your emails and text messages this can resonate. Consider how I am writing this article. Can you feel my passion and excitement – and enthusiasm – literally flowing through the words I am writing right to your cerebral cortex?  Sure you can feel it – I know you can!

I am a naturally enthusiastic person, so for me the Dale Carnegie course was like throwing gasoline on a flame. It encouraged me to go even further with that type of thinking and acting.

I urge you to do the same.

Stay tuned for the third and final Threebie in my next article…..

Power Niche Marketing: The First (Marketing) Threebie: Get Out And About

When I teach marketing to my young associates, as well as my partners, and when I need to remind myself what is important, I go to these three things, which I call the “Threebies.” Why do I call them that?  Being honest, just so it gets remembered, I gave it a kind of silly-sounding name.

These three Threebies are utterly critical to do. You cannot remind yourself of this enough times. If you master these – and anyone can master these as you will see – you are going to succeed at business development. And if you don’t really master them and internalize them, you are going to fail.

The first Threebie is very simple:  Get Out and About!

One of the great truisms of marketing and sales is that for those people who get “out and about,” good things (and bad things) happen to them. For those who don’t get “out and about,” nothing (good or bad) ever happens to them. They are essentially those “cold and timid souls” that Teddy Roosevelt referred to in his famous Man in the Arena quote, who “know neither victory nor defeat.”

On this front, I can say safely, and with the certainty that comes from informal empirical verification over many years, that those who sit in their offices and answer the phone when it rings are dramatically less likely to be successful in marketing and sales than those who are always out and about – having breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and drinks, attending sporting or other events, learning and interacting with others in their industry.

This entire concept is an outgrowth of the statistics issue that I discussed in an earlier article. Those people who are out on the town – at a breakfast, at a lunch, at a seminar, at drinks with the girls or the boys, going out with people in the practice area, etc. – are the people who actually bring in this is loosely called “networking.” What is networking anyway?  Some people think it is some esoteric thing that requires an outgoing personality. But it isn’t. It is just two things:

  • An exchange of information; and
  • Two or more persons getting to know each to develop a comfort level so that they can work together or do business together

Said very simply, in networking you are just telling people what you do and having them tell you what they do, and seeing what pops out of that.

Whatever you may be thinking as you read this, I strongly urge you to get out of your chair, stop hiding behind your desk, and get “out and about.” You may feel like this is a waste of time, because at first you don’t know anyone and you have nowhere to go, but you have to admit that if you don’t get out and about, nothing is certain to happen; however, if you get out, then something “might” happen…..

You might be thinking that you don’t need me to tell you this as it is obvious, and you don’t need to read my article to tell you obvious things. Well, sorry for my French here, but that is utter bulls**t. I watch carefully what goes on, and almost all lawyers absolutely need me to tell them this because so many of them in fact just sit in their offices and don’t get out and about. Instead of being the like The Little Red Hen and hunting for leads, they sit back and largely wait for the opportunities to come to them.

And here is a weird, strange, and oddly inspiring statistic, at least in the legal and professional services world. If you want to be in the top 10% of professional service marketers, just do one single thing. This is because 9 out of 10 lawyers do absolutely no marketing at all!  So if you just do one thing, you are in the top 10%!!!!

That is kind of interesting, isn’t it?  I admit I read this in a book by David Maister called Managing the Professional Services Firm (affiliate link), and I am not sure these percentages are really true, but based on my own experience and observations, I think it is probably fairly accurate.

In any case, the first Threebie is to get out and about. Don’t sit around. Be like The Little Red Hen. She didn’t sit around. She went out and got it done.

My next two articles will – unsurprisingly – reveal the second and third Threebies….