Is this unusual quality your secret to success?

The other day I had dinner in Knutsford with my friend & business associate Chris.

Knutsford’s a small, affluent town - it boasts one of just six McLaren car dealerships in the UK - but it’s not a pretentious place. Tight-knit and friendly… and stuffed to the gills with places to eat and drink. If you get the chance to visit, I recommend it.

On this occasion we were eating at Chris’s favourite place, a terrific Indian restaurant in the centre of town, preceded by a drink at a popular haunt just a few doors down.

What makes me laugh is Chris is one of those blokes who knows everyone. Seems like that anyway.

There’s a standing joke it takes him half an hour to leave anywhere, because there’ll be half a dozen people to chat to on the way out.

That’s not really the point though - and it’s something he and I talked about at dinner.

He wouldn’t claim to be an especially outgoing person - and I’m certainly not either - but he does go out of his way to connect with people he meets, even if that just means a quick shake of the hand and a big smile.

It’s admirable - and I've told him so. It makes him an engaging and energising person to be around.

And that willingness to put yourself out there, to be forward in offering a smile, a shake of the hand, to actively engage with people you meet, whether you know them or not, is a disappearingly rare quality.

I went to a business networking meeting last week and was surprised that most other people there didn’t make much effort to connect with me on any level. And in my experience, that’s not unusual - harks back to our tribal origins, I guess, and our habit of sticking with people we know, thanks to our hard-wired survival instinct. Doesn’t always serve our best interests though.

Success in business more often than not comes from being prepared to do what others won’t do - not can’t do, but won’t do.

The fact is, most business owners aren’t willing to be the face of their business, to put themselves out there and connect with their audience, their customers and prospects, at a more personal level.

The result is they never get to know their market properly - they never figure out who their customers really are or what they really want. They miss sales and opportunities by the bucket-load, all for want of being a more personable, outgoing and engaging human face of their business.

There’s a favourite quote of mine at the front of my new book, from the marketing legend Dan Kennedy:

“In every field of endeavour, in any field of endeavour, the winners are promoters.

“You really have two choices. You can choose to stick your nose up at the promoters, criticise them and criticise promotion, view it as unseemly, as beneath you, as crass, and stand around grumbling about it. OR you can get good at it and use it to create influence, prominence, prestige, credibility, career and financial success. It is your choice.”

Which are you gonna choose?

I know what I’d prefer.