Popular… it’s all about popular

I recently went and saw (yet again) my favourite musical Wicked – based on the story of the witches in the Wizard of Oz.

One of my favourite songs in the musical is called Popular.

Glinda (the good witch of the north) is teaching Elphaba (the wicked witch of the west) how to be popular in the song. It’s light-hearted and witty and all together one of the best moments in the musical, but as I sat listening to it in my car this morning (for the umpteenth time) I giggled with recognition at the following part:

When I see depressing creatures
with unprepossessing features
I remind them on their own behalf
to think of
celebrated heads of state or
specially great communicators
did they have brains or knowledge?
Don’t make me laugh!

They were popular! Please,
it’s all about popular!
it’s not about aptitude
it’s the way you’re viewed
so it’s very shrewd to be
very, very popular like me!

Having worked in real estate for 16 odd years now I know it’s a strange industry indeed and one where “great communicators” thrive. Where else do you walk into a stranger’s home and within an hour or so get to a point where they feel so comfortable with you that they give you a key?

Now while you might not instantly think to call this “popular” I say it’s a version of popular called “likeable”. In real estate – as in so many other industries, if you can’t be likeable you won’t win the business.

It’s why the most successful real estate agents don’t all look the same, but all have a way of becoming likeable/popular with enough of their target demographic to earn a substantial income.

Take the real estate agent I know who towers over most people at six foot and too many inches and is about two metres wide (well – almost). He compensates for this somewhat scary outer appearance by being so softly spoken and unimposing that little old ladies feel completely at ease.

Take the amazing sales woman I know who could have been a model in a previous life. Rather than amplify her overtly gorgeous presentation – she dresses in a super professional manner, never veering towards obvious sexiness and therefore doesn’t alienate/terrify half her target demographic.

So how do you work on popular? For me – it was about working on becoming more outgoing and talkative. Naturally I’m a massive introvert. I have waitressing while I was just out of high school to thank for my take on “popular”. I worked in a restaurant and quickly learned that being a wallflower wasn’t going to work. As months went by I found techniques and ways to come more out of my shell and by the time I went back into real estate again at age 19, I’d learned how to put on my likeable/personable/popular/more extroverted face at work.

You’ll struggle to find a course in popularity – but if you’re in an industry where you’re trying to win business (and isn’t that almost all of us?), it’s an essential skill. Here are three ways to give yourself a home course in popularity:

  • Study “popular” people – what makes them so likeable? How do they put people at ease? Why do you and everyone else like them and want to be around them so much?
  • Ask people what your most annoying habits are (ask honest people and brace yourself for the answers).
  • Find a way to be likeable in your own way – ask your friends what makes you likeable and amplify that (generosity, kindness, compassion, remembering little details, being a good listener, etc).

And remember… “You will be popular, just not quite as popular as…. Glinda.

Kirsty Dunphey is the youngest ever Australian Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year, author of two books (her latest release is Retired at 27, If I Can do it Anyone Can) and a passionate entrepreneur who started her first business at age 15 and opened her own real estate agency at 21. Now Kirsty does lots of fun things which you can read about here. Her favourite current projects are Elephant Property, a boutique property management agency, Baby Teresa, a baby clothing line that donates an outfit to a baby in need for each one they sell and ReallySold, which helps real estate agents stop writing boring, uninteresting ads.

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