Likeability Tips — for Business!

When it comes right down to it, whatever business you’re in, you’re in the people business. After all, people prefer to do business with people and companies they find likeable.

According to Rohit Bhargava, likability can even trump competence in a business situation. In his book, Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring ActionRohit Bhargava (@RohitBhargava) offers up a range of research and stories about likeable business people and likeable companies — and explains how we can all become more likeable ourselves.

Who is Bhargava? A marketing expert passionate about bringing more humanity back to business. He advises some of the world’s largest global brands on communications strategy. He’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Fast Company — and spoken at TEDx

In his book Likeonomics,Bhargava focuses in on the five main principles for being a business which is highly liked — which he lists in as easy to remember acronym called TRUST. These 5 principles are: Truth, Relevance, Unselfishness, Simplicity and Timing.

“Likability is a skill — something we all universally can work on getting better at,” Bhargava has said.

With this in mind, below is a quick summary of the main things to keep in mind within Bhargava’s TRUST formula — so you can work at increasing the important business skill of likeablility.

1. Likeability is not the same thing as niceness. Yep. The two are not interchangeable — even though the words are commonly tossed back and forth as synonyms. However, nice people don’t tell you the truth. They’re afraid to hurt your feelings. Likeable people in contrast highly value telling the truth. The late Steve Jobs is a perfect example of the distinction between being likeable and being nice. Jobs was a tough-love truth-teller. Thanks to his bluntness and transparency, people trusted him — and that ultimately led him to have a passionate following of devotees. Although Jobs wasn’t “nice” per se, the people closest to him not only liked him — they loved him. According Bhargava, trust and believability are at the foundation of being liked and at your most successful in relationships.

2. Likability is not just for extroverts. Nor is likability a personality contest.Basically, likeability is about being warm and approachable — not outgoing and chatty. When you’re warm and approachable you don’t have to go up and talk non-stop to someone in a social situation. You just have to be open to the conversations you’re already having — and warm and receptive to the people you’re meeting. In general, being likeable is more about being interested — rather than interesting. Indeed, a good way to convince someone that you are an awesome conversationalist is to simply shut up and let the other person talk.

3. Likability is contagious. When you start to prioritize hiring likable people within your organization, these likable people will attract other likable people. Then once you have a company with a likeable team working together, you will create a happy, loving chemistry amongst your team — and this happy, loving team spirit will be felt by your consumers — which will then make your company far more likeable.

4. Likeability is about keeping things personal. Consumers today like to read personal stories — rather than just hear regurgitated facts. They will remember a personal story spoken in a personal way far better than statistics, research studies or corporate sounding sales pitches.

5. Likeability is about being transparent. Be honest with your consumers about your company, services, product, and pricing. Remember, the internet has made it super easy for consumers to figure out the real behind the scenes story and true cost of products or services. By being transparent, you are setting the tone for wanting to engage in an open, trusting communication with consumers.

6. Likeability is about keeping things simple. If you want to be more likeable it helps if you use plain, simple language — even conversational language – so you ensure your message is being understood. After all, in today’s time scarce, hyper-busy world, consumers desperately seek ease and simplicity in their corporate messaging. They want to get what you have to say, without wondering if they understand the meaning of larger vocabulary words. If you use complicated words you will obfuscate your message. For example, I should probably not have used the clunky word “obfuscate” in that prior sentence. However, thankfully humor and transparency do make you more likeable — and so I hope that my pointing this out in a feisty, self-deprecatory way has helped to redeem the likeability of this last paragraph!

The 2012 Democratic National Convention kicks off next week in Charlotte, N.C., and for the first time ever, marriage equality is on the platform. The president of the United States supports it, yet, ironically, we are gathering in a state that upheld its ban on gay marriage in a May referendum. Plenty has been said — and will continue to be said — about the incongruity of this situation. At the very least, it is a wry commentary on our mixed-up world.

“Why should corporate America’s support of marriage equality be so inconsistent?” My business partner Ted Gavin has been posing this question to me for months now. Ted is a Certified Turnaround Professional; he is in the business of fixing troubled companies. He is an expert in finding equitable solutions for organizations’ creditors and stakeholders. Common sense and rationality are the touchstones to his approach in business situations that are often highly charged and emotional. So it’s no surprise that Ted has a clear-eyed and pragmatic view of what companies need to do now with regard to this issue.

Ted’s position and mine is that companies that live in the past will not thrive and grow in the future. And a diverse work force with equal rights is the future. So why can’t American businesses accept this and move on?

Companies across America have been making groundbreaking (and risky) decisions, founded on solid business cases, for years. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company set an early example in 2004, when it began offering benefits and diversity training to all employees. That same year it received a 100-percent rating on the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign. In the state of Washington, Boeing was also an early adopter, offering same-sex domestic partner benefits. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says that his company’s pro-gay positions are about making its employees proud, and aligning with its corporate values. In Minnesota General Mills reinforced its support of gay marriage by publicly announcing its opposition to the state’s ban on gay marriage, which will be voted on in November.

It is curious, though, that while major companies like REI, Google, and Amazon announced their support of gay marriage, others remain silent, or come up just short of committing their support. Marriott Corporation is a perfect example. Bill Marriott demonstrates brilliant thinking in a recent Businessweek interview in which he says, “This church helped me raise a family and has brought great joy and happiness to my life. But that didn’t mean gay employees had any less status at Marriott. We have to take care of our people, regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else.” Bill, it’s time for Marriott to take the next logical step!

Even here in North Carolina, where Bank of America provides its 200,000-plus employees with same-sex partner health benefits, the company remained silent before, during, and after the May vote. Why? What were they waiting for?

My friend Bob Page, president of Greensboro, N.C.-based Replacements, Ltd., took a big risk last year when he publicly opposed the state’s ban on gay marriage. He built his company on a business model of diversity and inclusion. He and his partner have been together for 14 years, and Bob has grown Replacements into an $80-million company that employs 450 people. Bob’s public support resulted in a downturn in his North Carolina sales, but it was just a small hiccup. Overall, his bottom line was not affected, and his company is doing better than ever.

So what do we want? We want Corporate America to support marriage equality, of course, but not just because it is right thing to do, but because ultimately it makes good business sense. As companies strive to attract the best and the brightest to complete in a global marketplace, to clearly reflect their community, customer, and employee populations’ diverse faces, and to demonstrate value to their shareholders’ support for “progressive” issues such as marriage equality, are not questions of if but when.

Last year, my dream home was struck by lightening, and caught fire right above my 6-year old daughter’s bedroom. Thankfully, we all escaped without injury.

I don’t know how I could have survived that disaster financially if I worked for someone else, especially given the current state of the global economy.

It took so much time to deal with settling the insurance claim, replacing our worldly belongings, and finding a new home.

But because I own multiple businesses that generate recurring income, I was able to keep money coming in the door even while I was out dealing with the disaster.

And even today, I continue to generate recurring sales while the news media and everyone else complains about the recession.

Don’t get me wrong. The recession is real. But you don’t have to just sit back and wait for the government to help you.

You can create your own revenue streams that flow into your bank account even during a recession.

It doesn’t take any more work to create something that is residual than it does to create something you are just paid for one time.

One of the easiest ways to create your own residual income stream is by selling information to others. People will always want information, and are willing to pay for good information products.

And with today’s world of technology, you can start your own information publishing business even if you have no money to get started with.

Here’s a simple 3-step process you can follow to get started.

Step 1 – Decide What Type Of Information Product To Sell

The first step is to decide what type of product(s) you want to sell, and on what subject matters.

You can do this by searching for the hottest trends on some of the most popular places on the Internet.

For example, you can use Google’s Keyword Tool. With this tool, you simply type in the different key words that you think people would use to search for a product.

Then Google spits out the data on how many people are searching on that topic each day on Google’s search engine.

Plus, Google also shows you other related key words that may be even more popular than the ones you initially listed.

Another great way to decide what types of information products to sell is by using Amazon is the largest online bookstore in the world, and you can get your information products in front of millions of ready buyers for no up front cost.

For that reason, Amazon is also a fantastic place to go for your market research to learn about what topics are the hottest sellers.

Another popular place to search for ideas on what information products to sell is ClickBank. Clickbank gives you a lot of information about the digital information products that are currently the most popular.

You can use these tools to find some general subject matters that you find interesting – and that also have people buying that type of product.

Step 2 – Create the Product

The next step is to create your product.

You don’t have to be a great writer. It is cheaper than ever before to hire other people to write good content for you, and/or to hire experts to interview.

If you don’t want to create the information product(s) yourself, a great way to get them created is by hiring a freelance writer from sites like eLance or even Fiverr.

In fact, you can often get articles created for just $5 on Fiverr that you can then sell as an eBook.

Another way to create an information product is to interview an expert about a certain topic. You can find experts to interview on sites such as eZineArticles.

You can contact authors who have written a lot about your subject matter to see if you can interview them and record the interview.

You can then use the interview in various ways. For example, you could transcribe the interview into a report, and sell both the audio and printed transcript.

As another example, you could use the transcript from the interview as information that you then re-write as the content of your report.

Once you have decided what to create, just get something created that you can start selling. You can repeat this process later to create even more products.

Step 3 – Sell the Product

If you want to get started as quickly as possible, you should take advantage of the giant powerhouses such as Amazon, eBay, iTunes and Fiverr.

Each of these giant powerhouses allows you to sell information products, and you generally don’t have to pay the giant powerhouse anything until a sale is made.

And even then, you only pay them a small commission (generally 10%-20%) in return for them basically giving you free advertising to their millions of daily visitors.

When you list your products for sale on a giant powerhouse such as Amazon, you won’t have to worry about creating sales letters and order forms, since those are built into the platform of that web site.

You simply walk through their wizard to create the new product listing, and you’re done. They usually make your product available to millions of daily visitors within 1-2 days of creating your product listing.

The other option is to have your own web site and sell your products there.

Once you have your sales process setup, you then have to drive traffic to your products.

If you have listed your products through the giant powerhouses like Amazon, you will get the benefit of their millions of daily visitors automatically without having to buy advertisements.

So that’s the entire process. You can then repeat this process to create multiple information products if you want to add additional revenue streams.