I don’t know about where you live, but around here, summer ended abruptly this past Monday night at the precise conclusion of Labor Day Weekend.
One day I’m splashing around in my neighbor’s pool and the very next morning I’m rooting through the hall closet, looking for a jacket to protect against the cold rain. I don’t know, maybe Mother Nature has finally gone digital.
In any case, the end of summer brings with it the beginning of school, a time which, if you’ve got a high school junior lying around the house, means that college campus tours can’t be far behind.
In our case, this year will be our daughter Emily’s turn to drag her aging parents from school to school, in search of the perfect mix of food, atmosphere, facilities, location, student body and, of course,
cute boys academic offerings.
Personally, and for reasons I don’t quite understand, I have a very short attention span for guided tours. I’m good for maybe 15 minutes, at which point I begin looking for a place where I can inconspicuously peel off from the pack and grab a cup of coffee in the student union.
Luckily – for my college-bound children, I mean – my wife Linda is exactly the opposite.
Thanks to her work as an independent educational consultant, she goes on tours all the time; she even claims to enjoy them. Just last month, in fact, she notched her 100th campus visit, essentially making her the Cal Ripkin of college tours.
And, as I know you won’t be surprised to learn, she publishes a monthly E-Newsletter for parents.
Here’s an excerpt from one she wrote a couple of months ago:
I’ve just returned from New Hampshire, having visited 12 colleges over five days. This week I head to Vermont and next month out to the Springfield area.
Nothing wrong with that. Friendly, specific, easy to understand.
But that’s not quite what she ended up sending. Instead, I suggested she make one small addition.
Here’s how that same paragraph looked when she published:
I’ve just returned from New Hampshire, having visited 12 colleges over five days (thank you to my tired husband for holding down the fort at home!). This week I head to Vermont and next month out to the Springfield area.
So here’s my question for you: Which woman are you more interested in meeting and/or possibly hiring?
If you’re like most people, the second example – the one with the innocuous extra sentence about the tired husband – is the clear winner.
It offers no additional value to the reader. It does nothing to make her appear more professionally qualified. It doesn’t make her sound smarter, or more experienced or more hard working.
But it does do one very important thing: Because she shares just a teeny bit more about who she is – behind the professional mask – it makes her come across as more likeable.
And likeable professionals are the ones who get hired.
Not just by consumers either. By other businesspeople.
And not just by casual, chatty businesspeople with nothing better to do.
I’m talking about serious, hardworking, extremely smart, extremely busy businesspeople. You know, the ones you say your clients are and who you therefore believe don’t have time for this “human connection stuff.” (Can you see the “yeah, right” expression on my face from way over there?)
So try this:
Tell more stories.
Share more personal information.
Use more common, nonbusiness language in your business writing (e.g., “holding down the fort”). It doesn’t have to be overwhelming – but enough to give people a look behind the curtain.
Above all, start speaking and writing to your colleagues, prospects, readers, clients, presentation attendees – everyone! – as if you already know them well and with the expectation that your likeable self may be the only breath of fresh air to float through their world all day.
I’ll be hiding in the student union if you need me.