Being likeable is key to pretty much everything in life – accessing the hidden job market (some say as much as 80% of available jobs go unadvertised, so you need to access them through your network), climbing the corporate ladder, running a business, getting a raise, building solid relationships…

And how do you become likeable? By making people feel good about themselves, for the most part.

When meeting someone, you’ve got a fairly short window before they make up their mind about you. People like to throw around the old “7 seconds” rule, but that’s pretty dramatic. I’ve sometimes taken a few meetings before deciding if I like someone. You’ve got a few minutes at least. People are going to decide whether they like you after at least a first conversation, not after a first viewing.

So, say you’ve got 10 minutes, for argument’s sake. Here are some tried, true, and scientifically proven ways to make people think you’re awesome the first time they meet you.

Smile. When you smile at people you convey positive emotions. Don’t fake it though. Research shows we can tell the difference between a real smile and a fake one.

Shake hands. Research shows a handshake increases good feelings between people.

Repeat their name. Just once, after you are introduced. Don’t keep saying it, as is sometimes advised. You’ll sound like you took a course in sales. But repeating it once shows you’re paying attention.

Look directly at them. Look right at the person with whom you are speaking and resist the urge to let your eyes wander around the room looking for someone more familiar, more interesting, or more important. You’re not fooling anyone.

Listen. Don’t just wait your turn to talk. People can tell when you’re not listening. Repeat the last two or three words of what they’ve said back at them from time to time, either as a question or a confirmation. Don’t overdo it, though, or you’ll sound like a crazy person.

Ask for advice. Asking for advice makes people think you’re smart. It also sends them the message that you respect their opinion.

Ask an opinion, then respect it. Don’t argue, tell them they’re wrong, or make a snap judgment. Former FBI behavioural analyst Robin Dreeke says this is his number one trick for building rapport quickly.

Include them. If someone is standing on the edge of a group at a social event or otherwise hovering on the edge of a social interaction of some kind, invite them in by asking what they think or doing something to include them. They will be grateful.

Say nice things about other people.When you gossip about another person, listeners unconsciously associate you with the characteristics you are describing, ultimately leading to those characteristics’ being “transferred” to you,” according to the book 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute(via). So, say nice things about people, and people will associate that positivity with you.

Compliment them. Offer a sincere and not overly effusive compliment – “I enjoy your blog,” “I love your hair,” “That was a great speech.” People like it when you say nice things to them and they will response warmly. But not if you overdo it or fake it. I recently met a friend’s new girlfriend who, after asking me a few questions about myself said, “You sound smart.”

The next day I texted my friend to say “I really like Jenn!”

I later giggled to myself when I realized that maybe she’s more socially savvy than I am smart. Whatever the case, I still like her. So, it worked – and that’s what matters.