Without scrolling further down to check the answer, I want you to think about something. What could be my number one point be in the answer to “how do I become more likeable?” What do you think is the most important factor to becoming likeable online?
Before I get into that, you might be wondering whether being likeable really matters. After all, you could be anyone behind a computer screen. Let’s put it this way: I’m far more likely to link to my best friend in a blog post than a random blogger and I’m far more likely to send my favourite cousin a copy of my new product for free than someone I don’t know.
Of course, those are offline relationship examples, but online isn’t really any different. You don’t talk to people you don’t like. Unless, of course, you love drama.
Becoming likeable has many benefits:
A good example of that last point is my friend Martin. Martin was very active in the internet marketing industry (I’m sure he won’t mind me using him as an example) until he was arrested for activities that both shocked and disappointed me. After 3 months in jail he was released and came back onto my social media radar.
Despite what he did, I still really like the guy. I like talking to him, I’m happy to help him, and I don’t think any worse of him than I had previously. You might think you would not do the same, but then you probably don’t have a Martin in your network right now.
Now if you remember I asked you to think about the most important factor to becoming likeable online — did you guess this would be it?
I know it’s quite the paradox to suggest that if you want something, don’t care if you get it. But, in terms of becoming likeable online, it certainly matters here. There are two main reasons why this is the case:
Have you ever spoke to someone who seems like they’re trying really hard to impress you? They feel it is necessary to let you know how much money they make, what qualifications they have or what car they drive…even after two minutes of meeting them.
If you haven’t, then I have. And let me tell you, it’s uncomfortable. It just feels…difficult. Maybe it’s because I’m very self aware, but I simply can’t have flowing conversations with people who feel it is necessary to put me or them on a pedestal. If you stop caring whether people like you, you naturally won’t put them on a pedestal (think too highly of them) and make communication awkward.
A good example of this is Baker (who, like my father, doesn’t call himself by his first name). Baker came onto my radar via Twitter and I’m pretty sure the first thing he messaged me was a sarcastic insult regarding something I had written. His response was very funny and the type of thing one of my friends would say offline.
It didn’t matter that his blog was brand new and he was talking to someone in the niche with thousands of subscribers (not that it ever does) but he was just being himself and probably couldn’t care less about what I thought of him. Now, he gets links from me in blog posts.
It’s human nature for us to want to talk about our own achievements in life. Because of this, we also like it when others care about those successes and what we’re up to these days. It’s important to note that I put genuinely in this sub-heading. Being liked is totally pointless if you have to talk about things which don’t interest you.
This guide is about helping you become more natural online, rather than telling you to suck up to the A-listers in order to get their approval. If you don’t care about something, don’t pretend you do. If, on the other hand, a project that someone is working on interests you, let them know.
Dave Navarro (not the musician) is a great example of someone who knows a lot about what is going on in his niche without doing it for your approval or your friendship. He comes across like he genuinely gives a crap about what people are working on and I have spoke to him numerous times in the last few weeks about my own projects. Because of this, I was more than happy to help him promote his.
Whether you’re successful online or just starting out, this advice applies to you in equal portions. I’ve been at both ends of the scale for about the same amount of time so know what they’re like.
If You’re Looking to Rise the Ranks – If you’re just starting out in blogging or getting your name out in a niche, it can be easy to just focus on the top guys. For example, if you want to excel in the internet marketing niche it would be a good idea to get on the radar of people like Darren Rowse, Brian Clark and Jeremy Schoemaker.
What you shouldn’t forget is that there are thousands of other people in your niche who:
Don’t limit your focus to a select group of people. Sure a blog post from one of these guys might help your business more than 10 little guys, but how long does that last? If you’re in the mentality of focusing on the guys at the top of the food chain, you’ll probably forget your own growing audience in the process.
If You’re Already Well Known – For god’s sake, don’t forget the people that helped you on your way. As with starting out, you never know who could become one of these A-listers one day. You also never know when someone you help could increase your business or their golf buddy could be your next major client.
This is between us, but I still offer free support to people who have never bought anything from me. I sell a product on how to make money through blogging and affiliate marketing which comes with free support. However, I’ll often find myself spending hours helping people who have never sent me any cash. Luckily, I love what I do.
A few years ago I was very active in the internet marketing industry (specifically SEO) and the big blog to follow was SEOmoz. They had a team of rockstars which included Jane Copland. It feels really sad thinking about this now, but I remember getting in touch with Jane via Facebook and she spoke to me like I was a real person. At 16 / 17 this was someone who I really looked up to and just having her treat me like everyone else was amazing.
If Jane ever asked anything of me, I would more than happily help her out. Of course you may spend time helping people who will never return the favour, but if that bothers you so much, maybe you’re spending time on the wrong platform (the internet).
This links very closely to not caring whether people like you, but I still believe it deserves its own section. On the internet, there are many areas where people hold back. For example:
I know, because I’ve been there. In fact, I was mentioned on an official Google blog at 17 and referred to as Dave Chambers. This makes me laugh out loud when I write it but it’s true. Dave Chambers was my pen name at the time because I was too scared of my school friends “Googling” my name and finding out what I was working on.
If you are someone who is afraid of putting those things online, a good question to ask yourself is: “When does it matter?” When does it matter if someone finds out your blog that you know in person? Really think about that.
When does it matter if someone leaves a nasty comment on your Youtube video? When they write it? When you read it? Are you really that bothered about what some troll on Youtube thinks of your accent or haircut?
The people that matter don’t mind, and the people that mind don’t matter
A good lesson in putting yourself out there was my first Skype call with Jonathan Mead. My blog was just starting to get onto the radar with quite a few people and Jonathan was one of the people that I respected in the industry. I remember feeling quite “professional” and tried not to say any stupid shit. It wasn’t until Jonathan said some things that could not write down here that I realised there is a human being behind every successful person online.
Being yourself is far easier than putting on a front, and, as Oscar Wilde said, everybody else is taken anyway.
It is research proven that if we can get someone to do something small, they’re more likely to do something that takes up more time. When you’re getting yourself out there online, it’s important to keep in touch with people, rather than get in touch and disappear off their radar for a while.
Whenever someone reaches out to me that seems like a genuine person, I will look to help them out where I can. However, if they’re not working on anything unique or just coming from a different angle, I don’t want to promote that to my audience. I’m happy to promote people who are doing different things.
This may seem a little cold, but being liked by anyone online is pointless if it isn’t going to go anywhere. If they can’t help you get clients, more blog readers, more links of anything of that sort, you’re just making friends. Friends are great, but you’re trying to build a business as well, right?
The best way to keep the communication going between you and anyone online is to be working on something excellent. Something that they can naturally follow. A few people who I’m happy to share their content and are really nice people include Jay, Chris and Karen. It would be hard for me to help them if they just wrote generic blogs or didn’t do anything at all. Instead, they’re all working on their own unique projects with their own style so I’m happy to do what I can.
Finally, and perhaps one of the most important points here, is to realise you are not alone. You’re not the only one looking for more traffic, more blog subscribers, or just more eyeballs on whatever it is you are doing. I am far more likely to help people who have helped me because it shows they’re interested in what I do and they aren’t too egotistical to think there is nobody else operating in their niche.
Some good tips for spreading your value include:
The last one is very powerful these days because it is happening less and less. With the rise of Twitter, people are moving over to tweeting about articles rather than writing about them on their blog. This, in my opinion, is a real shame. Even when you’re writing excellent content, it can be harder to get it out there and get the links necessary for good search engine rankings.
If you operate like you’re the only person in your niche, you’ll find yourself as a lone person in your niche.
And remember: people don’t like me; I’m just taking my advice (being genuinely interested) from all of the awesome people (not viewing people as a statistic) I have linked to (realising I’m part of the whole) in this post.