How friendly and ‘agreeable’ are you when it comes to networking? Are you easy to be around and good to be with? Or are you hard work and tough to get to know? Guest blogger Matt Bird on being friendly when you meet people…

It was the final round of interviews for an important position within the organisation. The search had been long, the shortlisting rigorous and the interviews themselves thorough in the extreme. But even though the candidates had finally been sent home, there was one final test for them to pass. The executive leading the search stepped out of the conference room and out to the front desk. There he quizzed the receptionists on the behaviour of the candidates as they arrived and left. How did the candidates act as they entered and left the building? Were they friendly? Did they treat the receptionists with warmth and respect, or did they dismiss them out of hand?

The greatest test of our character and integrity is how we treat the people whom we think can do nothing for us.

Is friendliness something that we only switch on when we think it will be strategically advantageous to us? Or is friendliness a fundamental part of who we are? Do we use our smile like our credit card, or is it something irrepressible flowing within us?

This has never been clearer to me than the day I visited 10 Downing Street. After my name had been checked against the list and my passport checked, I was ushered through security and told to walk across the street and through the main entrance, to the iconic black, shiny door. Directed to leave my coat, bag and mobile phone downstairs I finally walked up flights of stairs to the state rooms above. There among the crowd of guests were a handful of government ministers whom I thought it might be interesting to chat to.

Plucking up my courage as I walked over, I introduced myself. It only took a fraction of a second for his disinterest in me to be made clear. No smiles, no eye contact, no desire whatsoever to engage in conversation. As soon as was polite, I made my excuses and went to get a drink. The moment I turned around I bumped into another minister. This one could not have been more different. He was smiling, laughing and easily began making conversation. I’ve never seen either of them since the event – and I probably won’t, either – but talking with them was a valuable reminder of just how easy it is to pick up on someone’s level of interest in us.

How we treat the receptionist, the stranger at the doorway, the bus driver, the assistant at the supermarket checkout or the waitress in the restaurant tells the world so much about us. Unless we are friendly to everyone, our friendliness to a few is not authentic. If we light up our smiles only when we think it might earn us something, we are asking to be mistrusted. We can’t be friends with everyone but we can be friendly with everyone.

ACTION: Imagine you watched a film of yourself in action today. How friendly were you with people? What kind of person do you aspire to be? What do you need to change in order to become that person?


matt bird guest blog networking coaching academy rob brown

This is a guest blog from Matt Bird, who helps leaders and organisations build the relationships needed to achieve greater success. He is the creator of Relationology and works as a keynote speaker, trainer and coach specialising in new business development and client relationships.

This blog is an extract from his new book ‘Relationology – 101 Secrets to grow your business through the power of relationships’ available now from Amazon.

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