YOU know you’re great, right?! But how do you get OTHER PEOPLE to like you…?

I decided to write this advice because it seems to me that so many clients of Harrison Careers, especially those who do not speak English as their first language, struggle to build effective relationships and to get professionals to like them as quickly as they could.

I am no psychologist, but I do have common sense.  Seven years of working in sales at Goldman Sachs, decades of coaching candidates, and a multitude of life experience, have trained me to be able to get people to like me quickly.

The advice that I’m about to give you applies especially to overseas candidates who have not been in the UK or US for very long, and who sometimes struggle with their spoken English.  It is also relevant to any native English speaker who is not naturally confident.

To keep things simple, I have come up with the 3 most important ways to get people to like you: (1) be interesting, (2) be charming, and (3) ask questions.

Be interesting

People are interesting for a variety of reasons, but typically we are attracted to people who are fun, who tell engaging stories, and who have opinions on interesting topics.

Be fun! Fun people have a big smile, they laugh a lot, they have fantastic eye contact – and with just their body language, they are able to make someone feel that they are the most important person in the world.  Fun people look excited by what you are discussing, and they seem energetic.  So – lighten up and don’t be too serious!  Try to use your humour to have fun with the people you meet.

Tell engaging stories!  I know that you have seen and done lots of interesting things in your life… If you come from another country, there are things about your culture, your family and your country which are great to hear about.  Why don’t you come up with 10 interesting stories about you, based on your background and experiences?  Right now, you could probably list 100 subjects about any aspect of life, careers or whatever, and I guarantee I would have at least 5 interesting things to say about any subject.  You could sit there, and I would be able to do all the work – smiling, sounding interesting, and entertaining you with things I have seen and done.  Can you do that?  If not, practice so that you can!

Offer opinions! Another way to be interesting is to offer insight and opinion.  Lots of you think you know nothing about the markets, but I know a guy who is a penultimate year student, and who I think knows more about the markets than most people working in investment banks – simply because he runs a simulated trading portfolio and he reads the newspapers every day and forms his own opinions.  Newspapers tend to give you both viewpoints – positive and negative – and support these with facts.  Develop your own opinions by reading what is in the newspaper, and then use these to talk knowledgeably with a professional.

Be charming

Being charming is probably pretty similar to what people call “schmoozing”.  It is how you behave when you are trying to get someone to like you.  Often it involves flattery – but it must be subtle.  Telling someone they are fantastic will not impress them because they won’t think that you really believe that, and because it’s obvious that you are exaggerating.

The charm has to come partly from your body language and partly from what you say.

It involves humility from you and respect for what the other person has done – but you also need to convey that you are not treating them like they are some kind of god.

We often find that some of our clients are not especially charming when we start working with them.  They sit there in an interview with a straight face, never smiling, and not making much effort to proactively develop the conversation.  We get it – they have never had to sell themselves to anyone!  We work on this “charm coaching” a lot with our clients at Harrison Careers.

Ask questions

The most powerful tool of all is asking questions – and anyone can do that.  You must develop the skill of making small talk.  It just takes practice.  So, what do you make small talk about?  You should have a mental checklist of several things that you can discuss with anyone.  They include holidays taken or planned, children or other family members, the weather, where someone lives, where they grew up, what got them into this business area, what sport they play/watch on TV, how they work out (nowadays everyone goes to the gym or does something).

And finally (and yes, I know I preach this all the time!) … PRACTICE…

You will not be successful in making small talk, getting people to smile or laugh, asking questions or showing people you are nice unless you practice.  You can practice in all areas of your life – it’s about establishing common ground with everyone you come into contact with.

When I take a taxi ride to the airport, I ask about the taxi driver’s family and how hard he works.  I remember stuff he tells me.  Next time I order the cab, I remember stuff about him and he thinks I am a great guy.

When I check in at the airport, I am super nice and friendly to the person checking me in.  I ask them questions about how hard they work, what they are doing this weekend, whether they travel much, and I make small jokes to make them laugh.

When I am getting myself a coffee on the trading floor, and I ask a colleague how his weekend was, I do not stop there.  I ask about what he did with his kids, whether he and his wife go out often, and whether they go to dinner or the opera or theatre or whatever.  I ask where they live, then I ask how long his commute is to work.  I remember this stuff.  I write it down in my Microsoft Outlook contact file.  When I see him next, I ask how his wife is – but I mention her by name and I mention his kids by name.

When I buy bread from the bakery, I always have some kind of chat (which the British would call banter!) – a few jokes or sarcastic comments to make the serving person laugh.  When I visit the baker, they know me, immediately say hello.  I do not get served quicker or get better bread, but when I walk out, I feel good because I know that people like me and enjoy talking to me.

When I talk to anyone on the phone, I try hard.  I smile, walk about the room with the handset and act in an energetic way even though no-one can see me, I try to say interesting things, I am expressive, I laugh if it is appropriate and I make sure that I get the other person doing much of the talking.  Most people like to hear themselves talk.  I am far more interested in learning about other people and hearing them talk.  I am genuinely curious about others.  I remember things people tell me.

I have 11,200 Microsoft Outlook contact files of people I know or have known.  The contacts of Harrison Careers are many thousands more.  When you tell someone at Harrison Careers something, we do not forget it.  We write it down and record it.  Primarily this is so that we can give our clients a better service, but it is also because we want to know as much about our clients as possible – because we are genuinely interested.  We want a long-term relationship with everyone who comes into contact with Harrison Careers.

Learn to initiate – and, more importantly, nurture – relationships with everyone around you.  This should be something you do for the rest of your life.  Practice every day with anyone you encounter, and you will constantly improve.  Above all, be nice, smile and ask questions!!

Hope this has been helpful – get in touch if I can give you any other advice!

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Peter is a true careers expert, and a leading authority on getting hired. He has worked for some of the world’s most prestigious employers including Goldman Sachs, McKinsey and Deloitte. At Harrison Careers, he runs an elite team with a 15+ year track-record of helping clients to win thousands of job offers from the world’s leading companies in Technology, Finance, Banking, Consulting, Accounting, Law and other industries. When he’s not coaching clients, he’s giving presentations, running, biking, or hanging out with his 5 teenage kids.

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  • Lately, I've been asked a LOT about what makes a good resume/CV - probably a good time to share some advice I recently published on my blog (link in bio). Have a look! #resume #cv  #interviewpreparation #interviews #harrisoncareers #gettingyouhired
  • Following on from my last post about the importance of engaging with an interviewer, check out my blog (link in bio) for some advice on how to get people to like you! As ever, comments welcome! #interviewpreparation #presentation #interviews #internationalstudents #harrisoncareers #gettingyouhired
  • I just read an interesting article about the most important question in a job interview being "Do you have any questions?" I agree that this is a super important question, but I have a slightly different opinion from the writer about how to respond to this question.  When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, the very best way is something like this: “Hey yes, definitely! Please could I ask a bit about you and your career? How did you get into business, what was about you that got you hired and how did you choose the business areas that you have? I would love to learn a bit more about you in person if you have time for that!” The point about this is to engage the interviewer personally. Truth is, by the end of the interview, the interviewer has already made up his or her mind, but personal engagement is probably your best chance at swinging it in your direction.  As ever, all comments welcome!
  • How do you prepare effectively for a presentation in an interview? Take a look at my advice here: http://harrisoncareers.com/blog/the-next-phase-of-the-interview-process-how-to-handle-a-presentation/
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  • This is the busiest time of the year at Harrison Careers, when our clients are knee-deep in applications to graduate and internship programs. Across the globe, companies are competing for the best talent, and it’s a highly competitive - to say nothing of incredibly stressful - time of year for students, who are trying to juggle their demanding academic schedules with the pressure to complete hundreds of applications. 
But how can you prepare yourself so that you stand out from the crowd? How can you be sure that your application answers are better than the competition, that you nail the video interview or presentation, and that you sail through all the tough competency questions that your interviewer throws at you? Drop us an email at hiringteam@harrisoncareers.com for free advice on any of the following topics:
•	Model application answers
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•	How to handle the Video Interview
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•	How to get people to like you
•	50+ questions to ask yourself before you start your online applications
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