One of the key ingredients to being a successful entrepreneur – or getting ahead in your career – is to know how to deal with people. You have to be someone people instantly like, remember and want to do business with.
That's whether you're meeting people at networking events, seeing new clients for the first time or shaking hands with potential customers – being able to charm and win people over is an essential lifeskill.
But how do you make everyone like you? How do you become the sort of person that everyone wants to talk to? I don't claim to be an expert (I still make plenty of mistakes) but here are some rules on how to charm anyone…
Rule 1: No one is interested in you
The quickest and easiest top tip to remember is this – no one cares about you. They don't want to know about you. They're not bothered about where you're going on holiday. They're not impressed that you once interviewed Will Smith (I did, you know). They don't even care if you've got an upcoming operation… All they care about is themselves.
With this in mind, become the kind of person who is interested in other people because we all love the opportunity to talk about ourselves – so imagine how popular you'll be if you're allowing others to talk as much as they like!
Ask lots of questions, be genuinely interested, ensure the conversation revolves around the other person, retain eye contact, smile, ask further questions – most importantly, enjoy listening. You might not end up saying much, or talking about yourself but it doesn't matter. This is all about charm, and allowing people to chat about themselves is the easiest way to win them over.
Rule 2: If people ask you questions…?
If you've followed rule number one and have allowed the other person to do all the talking, they might ask you questions in return. In which case, be prepared to charm by following these simple tips – always keep things relatively short and sweet; don't go into unnecessary details or waffle; be humble and don't show off; and finally, don't bring up anything negative, political or inappropriate… keep things light, fun and interesting, and you can't go wrong.
Rule 3: Use the sweetest sound in the world
When you first meet someone, repeat their name to remember it and then drop it occasionally into the conversation. So for example, 'Hi Tom, I'm Katy', and then use their name again if appropriate. Repeat it once more when you say goodbye. The sound of our own name is the sweetest sound in the world, and people will really warm to you if you say their name and remember it.
Rule 4: Weakness is off-putting
People can always smell weakness, particularly if you're shy or lacking in confidence. They'll sense something isn't quite right and might take an instant dislike to you. Work on your social skills and become comfortable in your own skin. Walk into a room with your head held high, become extremely confident around other company and speak up.
You are worth a hell of a lot, and you deserve just as much success as anyone else. So stand tall and be bold. If you're struggling, think of a confident role model and copy their body language and mannerisms. Soon enough, you'll be boldly walking up to people and introducing yourself without a care in the world.
Rule 5: Get your body language right
Body language is very important, so practice in front of a mirror or with a friend until you get it right. You want to ensure arms are open and not crossed; that legs are relaxed and not crossed and that overall, you look relaxed and approachable.
Best way to achieve great body language? Work on feeling relaxed and comfortable in your own skin. People who tend to cross their arms or cover their mouths or fidget could be revealing lots of insecurities and that can be off-putting.
Rule 6: Use the right tone of voice
Tone of voice is just as important as body language. You want to avoid shouting or coming across as aggressive by using a relaxed, gentle tone of voice. You also want to practice the art of assertiveness, i.e. getting your point across confidently without being defensive or aggressive. Work on your self-esteem as well and get used to hearing the sound of your own voice.
Rule 7: Use the right language
Keep conversation professional at all times by using polite language. For example, never say 'Ay up!', always say 'Hello' instead. And don't forget your manners. Also, try and keep everything very positive. Don't bring up the awful time you had on holiday or complain about the state of the economy. Charm people over by talking about polite, professional and happy things.
Rule 8: Smile!
A smile is infectious. Everyone loves a happy person, so smile and be happy to be around others. Your happy state of mind will shine through and make you very likeable. If, on the other hand, you're grumpy or disinterested – it will be obvious and you won't leave a very good first impression, so smile!
Rule 9: Praise others instead of getting involved in gossip
Whether you're at a networking event or in a meeting, people can sometimes talk about others in a negative way. To combat this, don't get involved. Instead, say something really positive about that person or company.
This attitude is the way I live my life and I always find it works very well because it shows how sincere and trustworthy you are. I hate gossip and I get a very bad impression of people who bitch. If you want to charm people, steer clear of the backstabbing and become a nice person instead.
Rule 10: Find their interests
If the conversation is quite slow, try to discover the other person's hobbies or passions. Do they like football? Are they into Formula1? Do they have a tan… Ask them if they've been on holiday. When you find a topic that makes their eyes light up, ask lots of questions and be genuinely interested in their passion, even if it's something you're not bothered about. They'll love you for it.
Rule 11: Don't people-please
There will be the odd occasion when you need to speak your mind or share a point of view that others might disagree with. In which case, still keep things light but be open and honest. You have to remember that being charming isn't about 'people-pleasing'. You still have to believe in yourself and your own principles. People will always respect your opinion – just make sure you express it in the right way.
Rule 12: Remember the little details
To stay charming, write down the little details about people so you remember them for next time you meet. For example, a new client might tell you about his wife and new baby… so next time you see him, ask how the baby and mum are doing. This is a great way to show people you care while making them feel important.