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Book Review: The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking by Michelle Tillis Lederman

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“I’m not very good in networking situations,” I once admitted to a new employee as we entered a conference where networking was going to be a major activity. She then shared with me that a former boss of hers had once noted that this employee had better results networking with one or two people during a half-hour session than her boss had networking with ten people in the same session. The idea of spending more time with someone, not less, was an eye-opener to me. Suddenly I felt a lot better about the concept of networking.

The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking… Because People Do Business with People They Like by Michelle Tillis Lederman is a well-organized, clearly written book that brings home many potentially eye-opening concepts, all of which are based on the idea that networking can be as enjoyable as having a conversation with friends and still be highly beneficial to career goals. The overlap between my former employee’s advice and the ideas laid out by Lederman exists, I believe, in the concept of authenticity. One doesn’t need to spend a lot of time with a connection, though that can help; rather, the interaction needs to be authentic in some way, and that can happen in an instant.

[Image credit: Vlado/FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

The book is organized in three parts based on what you can do before, during, and after having a conversation with a connection.
• Before having the conversation, familiarize yourself with the four laws of likability related to authenticity, self-image, perception, and energy.
• During the conversation, act on the laws of curiosity, listening, similarity, and mood memory.

• After the conversation, build the relationship through the laws of familiarity, giving, and patience.

Each chapter begins with a scene from the author’s own experience that demonstrates the law in action or the need for the law. The chapters do not have to be taken altogether or in a certain order; you can jump to the one(s) you feel are most important to you at this time. Even so, I found it beneficial to read the book in the order presented. For each law, following a description of its meaning and intent, the author provides simple and relevant activities to help you “Live the Law,” to apply the concept to you own work life.

Author Lederman’s suggestions for personalizing concepts to your own interests and situations are excellent. For example, in the chapter on the law of curiosity, she provides many ideas for ways to open conversations with potential connections. She provides examples for making personal inquiries, asking opinions, posing hypotheticals, seeking advice, complimenting (not flattering), and using the news. The subsequent Live the Law activity has the reader “change [the examples] in some way to make them authentic for you. Then generate at least two more original examples for each type. At the end of the exercise you should have a robust repertoire of questions to use for opening and continuing conversations in any situation.”

When I first received the book for review, I thought I wouldn’t see much new in it, but I was wrong. What seems at first glance like a good book for people just entering the workforce is also a good book for people jaded by upheavals and misunderstandings in the workforce. (Who, me?) What’s new in the book is its insistence on authenticity as the key to likability. What’s new to you under that umbrella will be different than what was new to me under that umbrella.

This book is a fit for just about any B2B setting you can think of. Who doesn’t want to be perceived as likable, and yet aren’t we all at some point or other disliked? (Again: who, me?) In any case, as the author notes near the end of the book, “The point isn’t for you to like everyone and for everyone to like you. Instead, the point is to create meaningful connections that strengthen your relationships, your self-awareness, your productivity, and inevitably, your results.”

Major corporations and small businesses both would benefit from purchasing this book in bulk and distributing it gratis to all the employees. They will be thankful for it. And customers will benefit from the fallout as well.

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About Meredith Ann Rutter