I’m still hard at work on book #3, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness. I was shooting for an October release but based on feedback from pre-readers I’m reworking parts before getting it to my editor. I’m still confident that it will be available by year-end. (The perfect Christmas gift? LOL)
The book follows the life of John Andrews, an ordinary young man born into a typical American middle class family. While there’s nothing extraordinary about John, his upbringing, or education, he becomes an extraordinary influencer. That’s because of what he learns from peers, coaches, clients, and mentors along the journey of life.
I hope you enjoy this sneak peak chapter where John learns the secret to building strong, lasting relationships.
Making Friends with Ben
Ben Blackstone was in his late 40s and reminded John of his dad. Ben was like Todd in that most issues were black and white, right or wrong, good or bad. John would silently chuckle when Ben would routinely make statements like, “There are two kinds of people in the world: those who are your customers and those who aren’t,” and, “When I was your age…”
Ben had a very laid back way about him when it came to his sales calls. His casual approach reminded John of a golfer who didn’t try to kill the ball but who swung easy and always landed the shot in the middle of the fairway. Those golfers made the game look easy and Ben made sales look effortless. For Ben, a sales call was just a conversation between friends. That was evident because John could see how much Ben’s customers liked him.
On their third day together, as they drove down a lonely country road in Ben’s company car, John finally worked up the courage to ask Ben about his relationships. “Ben, something I’ve noticed is how much your customers like you. What do you do to get them to like you?”
Ben, eyes focused on the road ahead, casually replied, “I don’t do anything to get them to like me.”
John pressed him, “You must do something to get them to like you as much as they do.”
“Nope, I never try to get a customer to like me,” Ben answered with a slight grin.
John, getting a little frustrated, said, “Okay, I give up. Clearly I’m missing something. What’s your secret?”
Ben’s eyes lit up and he said, “John, I’m glad you asked. Most people who ask the questions you asked think I’m pulling their leg and stop short of finding out the secret to great relationships.”
John furrowed his brow and inquired, “So what’s the secret Ben?”
“The secret is…” Ben paused to build the anticipation, then went on, “I do my darndest to like my customers.”
Staring at Ben, somewhat confused, John asked, “I don’t get it Ben. I know you like them but why do they like you?”
Ben elaborated, “John, once people know you truly like them, it’s almost impossible not to like you in return. But your liking has to be genuine. People have BS meters and can detect insincerity a mile away.”
John leaned in, “But what do you do to like them?”
Ben got straight to the point, “There are two simple approaches I take in order to like people. First, I make every effort to find out what we have in common. I do that because it’s natural for people to like other people they see as similar to themselves. Have you ever met someone who cheered for your favorite football team and you found you instantly liked them?”
“All the time,” John quickly replied. “Anybody who cheers for my team is okay in my book.”
“Exactly! See, it’s not about them liking you, it’s about you connecting on something you have in common so you’ll like them. My second approach is to pay people compliments when warranted. People don’t offer compliments nearly enough so when you do, that kind act is like giving a tall glass of water to a thirsty person – they drink it up!” Ben said with what was now becoming a familiar grin.
“But what if the person is kind of a jerk?” John interjected.
“Great question! Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.’ I believe honest Abe and I’m a firm believer there’s good in everyone. Some people you have to look a little harder but when you find a good quality then pay a genuine compliment you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. Difficult people seldom get compliments so they’re dying from thirst but don’t seem to realize it. When you give them that cool glass of water they appreciate it even more than most people!”
“Ben, you make it sound so simple,” John noted.
Wrapping up the conversation, as they pulled into the parking lot for their next appointment, Ben said, “That’s because it is simple John. Always have this mindset with whomever you meet; ‘I want to like this person.’ Then connect and compliment. The more you do it, the easier it gets until it’s just naturally who you are.”
John threw this pearl that Ben taught him onto a sticky note: Don’t try to get people to like you. Instead, come to like other people. This reminded him of the liking principle he first encountered in college but Ben’s advice took it to a whole new level. And, it alerted him to something he had mistakenly done. He spent so much effort on getting people to like him that he realized now he might have come across as desperate to make friends. He vowed to start making an effort to like everyone he met.
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller in several categories.
Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 400,000 people around the world.