People respond positively to other relatable people. A recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that advertisements that appealed to a specific emotion fared better than those with a celebrity endorsement. In a nutshell, the researchers discovered that an advertisement with an average man proposing to his girlfriend got a stronger response from consumers than the same product praised by a popular athlete.
There are likely thousands of interpretations possible for this response, but here is what I think: people respond positively to other people like them. While glamorous, the average person cannot truly relate to celebrities and elite athletes. A nervous man down on one knee, putting his heart on the line, is relatable though.
Entrepreneurs, and really anyone on an aggressive career path, should take a cue from these findings. While big-name testimonials and referrals certainly boost your personal brand, people want to know who you are too. Keep these truths in mind as you grow your reputation:
People work with people they like. While it is true that business interactions are not always sunny, it certainly helps when all parties get along. Let clients, co-workers and supervisors know who you are whether through your online presence, or in-person interactions. You do not have to have an all-business attitude all the time; leave some room for camaraderie building too.
Personal connection is a novelty. The digital age has made us all more efficient in our communication but in many ways has removed the human side of doing business. Deals are proposed and made through a series of emails. Co-workers email quick questions to colleagues instead of walking into the next cubicle. If you really want to make an impression, find an in-person way to connect. Make a daily point of stopping by your boss’ office to say “hi.” Take an occasional trip to a client’s location to hand deliver products or a signed contract. Invite colleagues, clients and other industry contacts out for coffee. Look for easy ways to get out from behind your computer screen and in front of vital people in your career.
Actions speak louder than words. At the risk of sounding like your parents, follow through on your commitments. People will not care about your flashy website, or impressive Ivy League credentials, if you do not deliver on promises. Build a reputation of excellence and people will come to depend on you. There may be times that you simply cannot get everything done on time and in those moments, it is best to act humbly and make a fresh promise to not let it happen again. Unfortunately, most people are accustomed to less-than-stellar service so stand out by associating your name with quality and dependable actions.
As you grow in your career endeavors, remember that you have a unique voice. All the credentials and experience in the world won’t land you a particular client or job if the decision maker doesn’t like you. You don’t have to modify your personality to appease a mass audience; just be yourself and the right people will respect and reward that.