You Look So Familiar... Is That Why I Like You?

If you're looking for an iron-clad excuse for avoiding networking, you can blame the millions of years of evolution that taught humanity to flee the unknown. The dangerous world taught us to fear the strange and the unfamiliar. We have a hard time liking things that we fear.

A strong networking strategy requires us to meet, get to know, and build a trusting relationship with people who've never seen our face before. But we're working against a deep and subtle distrust of the unfamiliar every time we meet new people. How can you overcome that? By becoming familiar. The "exposure effect" is what happens when people see or are in proximity to something: the tend to like it more, merely by getting used to it.

So the more you network and the more people are exposed to you - whether or not you even talk to them - the more they are going to like you. Other studies have shown that the more times someone sees a face, the more likely they are to rate it as good looking. It is absolutely not true that familiarity breeds contempt. It builds comfort and likability.

If you want to be an effective networker, you need to use this principal to become familiar to people through regular exposure and proximity.

Real estate agents are great at this. Look at their businesses cards. They spend the extra money to have a full-color picture of themselves printed on their cards. Their pictures are on their signs and any other marketing materials they have. By the time you meet them, you've seen their picture often enough that their face has become familiar to you.

This works for people on TV. Don't you feel like you know your favorite newscaster? You see them every night. If you ran into them at the grocery store, you'd talk to them as if you knew them (I know ... I've done this. Hopefully they get used to this effect and don't freak out!).

I did something interesting - by accident - to help people know me at an event this weekend. You can read about it in this week's issue of the Networking Motivator Newsletter.

What can you do to help people become familiar with you before you meet them?

P.S. Yes, that is my picture ;-)


  1. Anonymous8:07 AM

    What an excellent thought and now that I'm aware I fully agree.

    It really had never occurred to me before, but I do have a sense of familiarity with those that I have seen before as you suggest.

    We know to load Pix to Social profiles to build trust, but now also familiarity and likability.

    Excellent post.

  2. Beth,

    Great article. You are so correct about getting out there to network. I also like "A strong networking strategy requires us to meet, get to know, and build a trusting relationship with people who've never seen our face before."