If you have the technical skills or knowledge a job requires, you'll probably do fine at work. But if you want to excel and fast-track your career, it helps to be likable.
Multiple studies show that professionals who are liked by others are more likely to get hired and land promotions. Career experts and even public figures, like billionaire Bill Gates and former Vice President Joe Biden, agree that personal relationships are crucial to success.
Take, for example, a study published in the American Psychological Association that analyzed two interviewing tactics side-by-side: self-promotion and ingratiation, or working to be liked by others.
Job candidates who focus on ingratiation, or who were likable, had a better chance of being hired.
Another study published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, found that workers with both book smarts and social skills earned more money than those who possess one or the other. In fact, some argue that as more jobs become automated, professionals with stronger social skills will become more valuable.
If you aren't a social butterfly, don't worry. Here are three things to start practicing every day to become more likable.
1. Smile and be energetic
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett once feared socializing and delivering speeches until he took a public speaking class. That class was taught at Dale Carnegie, the institute named for the influential speaker and author of the iconic book "How to Win Friends and Influence People."
Joe Hart, the CEO of Dale Carnegie, shared several strategies professionals can use to become more likable. For starters, Hart recommends asking yourself, "What kind of energy do I have?"
If you feel like your facial expressions or tone of voice are lackluster, make an effort to change it. One of the easiest ways to do this is to smile more, Hart says.
Not only will it make others like you more, as people enjoy talking to those who appear friendly and welcoming, it will help you personally. The mere act of smiling triggers the release of hormones that are mood-boosting, scientific studies show.
As Carnegie used to say, "A smile costs nothing but gives much."
2. Master the art of small talk
Sitting at your desk all day isn't going to help you build professional relationships. While the idea of stopping by your colleague's desk randomly or inviting a colleague out for coffee or lunch may be intimidating, there are a few ways to curb that fear.
Checking in with your boss and colleagues on Friday or on Monday is a simple way to get started. You can start off with a simple conversation topic — what they are planning to do (or did) on the weekend. It can be a great way to get to know your colleagues. For example, if they saw a movie, ask how they liked it or how it compares to other movies. And be ready to share what you did over the weekend, too.
You could also invite a colleague out for a cup of coffee or to grab lunch. According to former Google career coach Jenny Blake, inviting a colleague to join you on an activity you normally do will make you feel less nervous than if you were in a new social setting.
"Invite people to activities you enjoy like going to a jazz club, taking a yoga class, walking outside," she says.
"Be curious about other people," she says. "You don't need a strategic plan to get to know everyone."
3. Do small favors for others
While you don't want to overextend yourself or appear too eager to please, doing the occasional favor for a colleague or your boss will make you more appreciated around the office.
It will also help you get ahead, according to best-selling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch.
"If there's one thing I wish I had known about business in my 20s," Welch tells CNBC, "it's that there is this huge, important, powerful, invisible economy that I refer to as the Favor Economy."
This economy is about "putting yourself out on a limb for somebody else with no expectation of immediate payback," she says.
People remember favors you do for them, she says. And more often than not, they'll help you out later on.
Check out the 2 fastest ways to get promoted.