What can leaders learn from the movie Jerry McGuire? There is one notion that could create wins. Do you remember the scene when Dorothy (Renee Zellweger) tells Jerry (Tom Cruz)

You Had Me at Hello

If you saw the movie, it’s hard to forget. If you have not seen it, click here to view on YouTube.

As a business professional/executive, entrepreneur, politician, public figure or other leader, you should strive to woo your audience at ‘hello’ – the only difference is that the outcome you desire is the new client, signed contract, salary increase, promotion, job, sale, vote, etc.

Refashioning the Jerry McGuire love scene in business, so that you capture someone’s attention and win them over at hello is not as much of a stretch as you may think.

Here is how:

The next time you meet someone, whether it is at a networking event, social gathering, conference, meeting or other setting; try these five moves and they just may ‘fall for you’ at hello…or soon thereafter:

  1. Dress and Groom Yourself with Intention

Getting dressed and grooming yourself shouldn’t be a mundane task in the morning like brushing your teeth. After all, your professional appearance is your ‘visual calling card,’ which can either support or undermine your image and personal brand. When you approach someone (or they approach you), they will likely consciously or unconsciously make snap judgments about you within seconds based on how you look…before you even have a chance to say ‘hello….my name is’

Getting dressed and grooming yourself should be thoughtful, strategic and intentional. As pretentious as it may seem, you should ask yourself questions like:

  • Is this blouse, blazer or tie flattering?
  • Is everything I am wearing a good fit?
  • What message does my appearance convey – confident, authentic, trustworthy, relevant, authoritative, competent, creative, intelligent, etc. or a lack thereof – and does it support my objectives?
  • Am I dressed appropriate for my rank, role and the occasion?
  • Do I look like a Boring Bob or Plain Jane?
  • Do my finishing touches (e.g. accessories, undergarments, hair, nails makeup, etc.) underscore my ‘visual calling card?’
  1. Master the Ultimate Greeting 

Can you remember a time when you shook someone’s hand and were completely turned off by the person? I bet you can. Although your handshake may not be what ultimately wins someone over, believe you me, it could serve as a deal breaker. Your handshake tells a person a lot about you. For example, people infer whether you are confident or arrogant, just by how you shake their hand. And then there is that ‘gooey’ handshake that just doesn’t leave people with a warm and fuzzy feeling about you. Bottom line, if you haven’t mastered a good handshake, the ultimate greeting, make it your priority to do so pronto!

  1. Be a Chameleon

The savvy leader knows that people do business with (and refer business to) people they know, like and trust. This occurs when rapport is built. One of the best ways to build rapport, right away, is to engage in a communication technique called mirroring and matching. It is simple; you adapt your vocals, body language and gestures, and behavior to appease the person (or audience) that you are trying to win over.

For example, if they speak fast and are direct you should ‘mirror and match’ them by doing the same. If they speak with their hands, so should you. Or, if they are soft spoken, it may not bode well in building rapport if you are a loud talker. By being a chameleon and adapting to your environment, the other person relates to you and feels at ease in your presence. A word of caution, don’t go overboard with this technique or you may risk seeming a bit creepy.

  1. Zip It!

I distinctly remember one of my high school teachers use to always tell her students, me included, to ‘zip it.’ It was her quasi-polite way of saying, shut your mouth and pay attention. You should do the same when you meet someone you want to impress. Let them know how important they are by zipping it and listening more than you talk.

Not the kind of listening where you are going through your ‘to do’ list in your head while they are talking or casing out the room for the next person you want to meet  (don’t pretend…most of us have done this before); but instead active listening – nodding your head, engaging in direct eye contact and conveying a “yes” or “I see” occasionally to demonstrate you understand and appreciate what they are saying and have a genuine interest in getting to know them, their cause, challenge, vision, or whatever they, not you, deem important.

Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.” – Bernard Baruch

  1. 5. Smile!

Do not underestimate the power of a smile in business and beyond. As the saying goes, a smile is worth a thousand words. So, talk less and smile more. Make it warm, natural and authentic.

Tying it all together:

It is not good enough to nail two or three of these tactics; to achieve the full effect and win someone over at hello. Execute all five in tandem.