Dear Friends & Colleagues:

This week’s excerpt from my new book, How To Win Client Business, is from Chapter 17: What Is Trust and Where Does It Come From? This chapter begins the discussion on the 4th rainmaker skill: Develop Trust-Based Relationships. All rainmakers demonstrate the ability to build trust-based relationships. As we’ve discussed numerous times, prospective clients need to know us, respect our professional capabilities, and trust that we have their best interests at heart before they will become confident in hiring us.



Do clients really hire people they like? The short answer is no. At least not in the way most people think. In this chapter, I dive into the popular misconception that clients hire people they like. We discuss what it means to be likeable and how likeability influences the growth of trust in a new relationship.

In addition to the text excerpt below, I’m providing a short 5 minute audio version as well – narrated by me. So, if you’d rather listen to a sample from Chapter 17 in lieu of the text excerpt, simply click here. (Note: If your preferred format is audio, the audiobook is now available on Amazon and is beautifully narrated by Barry Abrams – one of the best in the industry.)

Here’s this week’s excerpt. I hope you enjoy it!



Chapter 17: What Is Trust and Where Does It Come From?

Do Clients Really Hire People They Like


Tom McMakin and I stirred up a bit of controversy in How Clients Buy when

we claimed that respect and trust were more important than being liked. Our claim

went against conventional wisdom because many believe clients hire people they



We suggested that likeability is a tiebreaker in the client’s decision-making

journey. Between two equally qualified and trustworthy candidates, a client would

give the nod to the one they liked better. We proposed that respect and trust were

more important than being likeable: respect for our professional ability and trust

that we had the client’s best interests at heart.


As I’ve studied this more carefully, I’ve come to believe that likeability is what

social scientists call a moderating variable. A moderating variable (in this case being

likeable) influences the relationship between the independent variables (respect

and trust) and the dependent variable (you being selected or not).


Or, put another way, being likeable on its own will not win you client business,

but not being likeable can lose you client business. I have come to believe that

being likeable allows respect and trust to begin to grow in a relationship.


Recognizing Authentic Likeability


Perhaps the controversy we created stems from differing opinions of what it means

to be likeable. What makes a person likeable anyway?

Here are a few qualities that quickly come to my mind. Likeable people:


  • Are interested in you
  • Ask good questions
  • Are good listeners
  • Are helpful
  • Are comfortable with who they are
  • Are informative – they share interesting information
  • Are honest


Alternatively, unlikeable people:


  • Are self-centered and egotistical
  • Talk too much about themselves
  • Don’t seem to care about you
  • Are more interested in getting than giving
  • Exaggerate their accomplishments
  • Try too hard to make a good impression


We’ve all met people who fit the description of the likeable person. They make

us feel good. We learn from them and they inspire us. They are honest and look for

ways to help us. They are upbeat and pleasant to be around.


We’ve also met people who were not very likeable. They talk a lot about themselves

but don’t seem that interested in us. They seem most interested in what they might get

from us. They aren’t very enjoyable to be around. They leave us feeling drained.


Your list of likeable traits may be different than mine, but I bet there is considerable

overlap. I wonder if being likeable is really about showing others that we

care about them. When we listen closely to what someone is saying, aren’t we demonstrating

that we care? Caring and empathy make us more likeable, right?


I think the risk we run in trying to be likeable is that we try too hard to make a

good first impression. In her best-selling book Presence, Harvard psychologist Amy

Cuddy offers this perspective:


When we are trying to manage the impression we’re making on others, we’re

choreographing ourselves in an unnatural way. This is hard work, and we don’t

have the cognitive and emotional bandwidth to do it well. The result is that we

come across as fake.


Trying to be more likeable feels phony. Striving to be more thoughtful doesn’t.

And when we show others that we care about them, we are building trust.


Click here to order your copy of my new book, How To Win Client Business, today!