Qualifier: I’m not a student of “interviewing tip of the month” posts.

What I do study is how to connect with people. Last week’s article mentioned that interviewers make a subconscious decision about whether or not they like you — and that influences the candidates they pick.

Here are three things you can do to increase your chances to connect with people in any interview: from a job, to new business, to asking for more responsibility or money.

One: Know What’s Important — and Cut It Down to Three Ideas

How many times have you been in a meeting with a man who tells you, “There are five reasons you should do this.”

Here’s the neuroscience. People’s short-term memory can only hold three ideas. By the time he got to “four,” you forgot “one.” And you probably felt a little inadequate about it. Then you may have blamed or got angry with him because he made you feel this way.

Literally: write down the three most important ideas you want people in the meeting to remember after it’s over. In job interview, for example, you may want to have points on each of these areas:

  • The pain (issues/lost opportunities) this company/ department/ person is facing. Name these. Show you’ve done your research and understand what they’re up against.
  • The experience you have in dealing with similar situations. People want reassurance that you have already done this well.
  • The vision you have for how the business will look once the pain has been successfully addressed. This could be everything from higher revenues, to lower expenses, to motivated people working together, etc. Paint a clear picture they can see and be inspired by.

Two: Set a Clear Goal

Too often we have only a fuzzy idea of what we want before walking into a meeting or starting a conversation. Then we’re shocked when we walk away disappointed.

Instead, write your goal in longhand. This does something magical! It sends information from your conscious mind into your subconscious. 

You care, because your conscious mind can only process between 10-50 bits of information per second. Your subconscious mind has access to about 20 million.

When your subconscious understands something is important to you, it begins to let related ideas bubble up into your conscious mind. 

You’ve had this happen. You wake up at 2:00 a.m. suddenly recalling the name of a person you were struggling to remember all day.

You’ve probably heard the acronym about SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relatable (to what you’re trying to achieve) and timely. If you’re going into a new business meeting, for example:

  • During my 30-minute meeting with Lauren, I’ll 1) listen for her pain points and objections, 2) paraphrase what she says, and 3) share stories on how we’ve helped companies in similar situations. As a result, she’ll ask me to do a proposal.

Get both parts of your brain working together to get what you want — without expending additional energy to do it.

Three: Tell a Meaningful Story

While the story will be about you, the reason for telling it is all about them. This is where strategic storytelling comes in.

Annette Simmons, author of Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, identified six of these. Here are two you’ll probably want to work on in advance:

  • “Why I’m Here” story: Your goal is to replace suspicion and give people a reason to trust you by showing you don’t have a hidden agenda. You use this story to show that you’re a good person and want to work with others to achieve a common goal.
  • “Who I Am story: The goal is to break down preconceived notions or judgments people have about you and your motivations. You do this by revealing a flaw or mistake you made, to make you more human and approachable.

Want more on this, including some examples? Check out this article.

Good Things Start with Connecting

Yes: these three things take time and advance planning. The question is, how important is this meeting or conversation? What will it cost you if things go south? Is it worth 10-20 minutes of targeted, advance planning?

You’ve heard that people do business with those they know, like and trust. Be that person. And get more of what you want.

Do you have a big conversation, meeting or presentation coming up? Let’s talk about how you can create a better connection with everyone there.