Saturday, April 14, 2007

Find Common Ground and Uncommon Contacts Part 1: One to One

Who do you trust? People like you. And, people who like you. Edelman Public Relations is the largest privately held PR agency in the world and each year they do a global study to evaluate the most trusted forms of corporate communication. When it comes to the most credible spokespeople, survey respondents regularly rate “people like me” at the top of the list…beating out CEOs, professors and, even, doctors. They just released their new study this week…same result.

In Edelman terms, “People like me” means folks who share common interests, hold similar beliefs, career interests and geography…they’re from your hometown, went to your college, or live in your neighborhood. Simply put: trust comes from likeability which comes from similarity and familiarity. If client development success depends on building trust with prospective clients than it means finding common ground as quickly as possible.

Referrals to prospective clients from mutual friends are the speediest way to move along the trust curve. When our friends recommend us to their friends, we are instantly more credible than the unknown option because we have an instant point of affinity…our common friend.

How do you quickly find common ground without a common friend? Assuming time to prep, start by Googling your upcoming contact. Check out the biography on their website. Ask others in the community about the contact. Learn what you can ahead of time about their background, interests, alma mater, hometown, family, community involvement and anything else that might signal your common interests. When you get together with your new relationship, bring up the areas of similarity gently. “I noticed that…” “I saw on your bio that…” “Jim mentioned to me that you…” “…me too.”

What if you have no time to prep? Ask questions. Approach others like a like a breeze not a hurricane…don’t interrogate, just be genuinely curious. And, genuinely enthusiastic when you find points in common. One other element that breeds likeability is demonstrating that we like the other person. Lean forward, smile.

Client Development Success = Trust = Likeability = Similarity, Familiarity, Genuine Interest and Friendship

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