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11 laws of likability

Book Review: Key lesson for bankers is that people do business with people they like

The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking--Because people do business with people they like, by Michelle Tillis Lederman, Amacom, 240 pp. The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking--Because people do business with people they like, by Michelle Tillis Lederman, Amacom, 240 pp.

Reading this book was a refresher course in ways to keep in touch with and build better relationships with customers through relationship networking.

Author Michelle Lederman, a communication and leadership consultant, breaks down the methods used into the “11 Laws of Likability,” which provide the foundation for the book. Lederman’s premise is that people do business with people they like.

These lessons couldn’t be more relevant than now, as many banks are still recovering from the Great Recession. Obtaining as well as retaining good customers is extremely important to the overall health of the bank.

The first law revealed in the book is the Law of Authenticity.

Lederman places it first to emphasize how important it is to be yourself when networking with others.

People can see through insincerity and that factor will send the very people you are trying to influence running in the opposite direction. This is true for business associates as well as family and friends.

The fact some people are better at relationship building than others is noted and the following ten laws of likeability address how to improve or establish relationship building skills.
Digging into the basics

Before you can become a likeable person that people want to do business with, you must first become a person who likes themselves.

Thus, the second law, that of self-image, addresses how many times others don’t like us or want to do business with us because we don’t like ourselves and project negative attitudes. A process for change is offered to get the reader started on building a positive self-image.

We all record a first impression of individuals we meet and the individuals are also recording a first impression of us. The third law, the Law of Perception, provides suggestions as to how to make a good impression when meeting others for the first time and also encourages an open-mindedness when forming first impressions of others. Several examples are given reflecting first impressions that were totally incorrect and underscore the importance of not judging others too quickly, which could result in the loss of a good business relationship.

It isn’t always easy to keep yourself energized, but the fourth of Lederman’s tenets is the Law of Energy. This was the most difficult law for me to relate to and understand. However, the point of this law was to keep your energy levels up so others find you energized and excited to do business. This could also be expressed as projecting a “can do” attitude.

The fifth law is the Law of Curiosity. There is some real value given in this chapter, where Lederman provides examples of how to ask open-ended questions which can open up conversations and provide new avenues of insight about other people.

People like to talk about themselves. So leading questions posed in a curious manner can unveil some helpful information to solidify relationships. The more you know about people the more connections you will make and it will strengthen the relationship.
Ears open, mouth shut

Who couldn’t use some practice in listening skills?  The sixth of Lederman’s points is the Law of Listening (and one of my personal weaknesses, I must confess).

People can sense when you are listening to them and it projects a feeling of genuine concern which helps to reinforce and build a relationship. This is one of the most important and sincere relationship builders, whether the setting is business, friends, or family.

It is comfortable to be around people who are like us, so the seventh law is that of similarity. Lederman’s point: If you work hard enough you can find ways you are similar to almost anyone.

Some would call this finding common ground. By finding the similarities, you can make a natural connection to that person which makes it a comfortable relationship. It is easier for people to do business with you when they feel comfortable around you.

This leads into the eighth law, the Law of  “Mood Memory.”

People you meet are more likely to remember how you made them feel, rather than what you said to them during your first conversation. Therefore it’s critical to incorporate the seven previous laws into that first conversation to make the experience a positive memory for the other party.
Two “follow-up” laws

The remaining three laws are to help build lasting relationships after the initial conversation.

The ninth, the Law of Familiarity, gives good suggestions on how to keep your name in front of individuals you have met and would like to do business with. A great suggestion was an e-mail application called Xobni. The free version of the application can be downloaded at

Xobni creates a sidebar in your inbox window that provides you a profile picture of the sender, of e-mail if they have provided, and a profile picture on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. If they do use one of these three social media platforms, Xobni will give you the option to connect directly to their site. Xobni also allows you to see their network of connections, which could enable you to see individuals you know in common.

If you can help an associate grow their business by giving them referrals or by helping them make other business contacts, you in turn can deepen your business relationship with that associate. This is the eleventh tenet, the Law of Giving.

The old adage of what goes around comes around is reflected in this law. If you help a client or customer grow their business they will be inclined to want to help you with additional business. While this law holds true in most business settings, I think you have to be very careful in banking when trying to help make these connections.
One more followup law: patience

The last law is Lederman’s Law of Patience.

It takes time for all good relationships to develop and it is worth the time and effort you put into making and retaining customers. It may be several years before someone you have met decides to do business with you. The secret is to find ways to stay in contact with that person through networking so when they need your service they think of you.

This book would be very beneficial to new calling officers or relationship managers and a good refresher for seasoned bankers. It is good to always remember that people do business with people they like.
If you'd like to review books for our online book column, or have recently read a book that you found helpful that we haven't already reviewed, please e-mail [email protected]

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Tagged under Books for Bankers,

Jane Haskin

Jane Haskin is president & CEO, First Bethany Bank, Okla. Haskin, is a member of the Banking Exchange Editorial Advisory Board and a former member of ABA's Community Bankers Council. She is a frequent reviewer for

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