Nearly twice as many subjects agreed to provide feedback in a study that duplicates a business and career situation when they thought the requester was similar to them in some fashion. In this case because they happen to share the same birthday. This will influence your success as entrepreneur. And for this reason is important to also understand why.

Similarities are convincing in business and career situations

In Prof. Burger’s study the researchers wanted to be sure there wasn’t something unique about discovering that someone shares the same birthday. This time in an attempt to duplicate a business and career situation participants were introduced to another student, again a confederate wearing a name tag and holding a poster. On the poster was a picture of a young lady with a caption including her name in quotes.

In one condition the confederates’ nametags showed a name identical to the participants, this is equivalent to a shared birthday – this time it’s a shared name, but there were also two other conditions. In one, the person in the poster had a name identical to the participant’s name this allowed the researchers to see if the basic experience of encountering similarity makes people more help for likely to comply.

In the final condition there was no name similarity on either the poster or the confederate’s name tag. So research participants experienced one of three conditions: having the same name with the person holding the sign, having the same name with the person pictured on the sign or not having any name similarity. In all conditions the confederate holding the sign asked the participant for a favor, in this case a donation to the cause described on the poster.

Improved chances for success for entrepreneurs betting on similarities

Would the student donate? Wold this work in the business environment. How can this help your career? The study sought to see how much people gave in his condition. Average giving in dollars was as follows: with no name similarity – a dollar, the same name with the person on the poster – a little less $0.81, the same name with the person requesting the donation – $2.07. Again the perceived similarity between the agent and target makes a huge difference.

Comparing no-name similarity to the condition where the requester has the same name as the participant we see a doubling of giving. Some studies showed a doubling of compliance helping with that essay based on shared birthday and studies showed a doubling of giving based on a shared name. In these studies participants were not at all aware that they been influenced by the incidental similarity between them and the person making request. Nor were they entrepreneurs. But, these conclusions can be helpful

The increase in liking and helping happens outside of the awareness of business actors

If you would ask the participants “Were you influenced by the person’s birthday or by their name, they would respond blankly: Why would I be?” The increase in liking and helping happens outside of awareness. That’s how it works in business also. Hidden away in the ATTIC of their minds so to speak. These studies trying to duplicate business and career situations suggest that agents could be more effective influencers and have more success as entrepreneurs when they tap into the power of incidental similarity and liking.

So, if you want to be more influential might think about highlighting similarities between you and the people you’re talking to. Take the scenario where you try to influence her colleague to see a show, if you well-liked then perhaps you’ve already convinced her. Even so you might try to find and highlight some similarity that you share: maybe both like gardening. Call attention to that and enjoy the conversation that the similarity produces.