Networking doesn’t come naturally for most of us. It's especially tricky when you’re trying to cozy up to someone in a position of power and you don’t want to come off as a suck-up. But according to management experts, there’s an easy way to be more successful at schmoozing with people we want to curry favor from: Just focus on what you have in common.

In a paper published in the Academy of Management Journal, recently highlighted in BPS Research Digest, a pair of researchers from the University of Michigan analyzed interactions between nearly 500 members of corporate boards of directors who needed something from one another, such as a recommendation to serve on another board. After analyzing the number and type of interactions pairs of directors had through surveys, and whether or not those interactions resulted in a nomination to a corporate board, the researchers found that power players were strategic about how they thought about their high-status colleagues.

Successful networkers honed in on all the things they had in common with the other person before their meeting, and ignored whatever differences they may have had. And because people tend to like others that are similar to them (even on a genetic level), this meant that the schmoozers were cultivating sincere feelings of affection for their networking targets. In turn, their interactions didn’t feel false or disingenuous to the person they wanted a favor from.

The secret to getting other people to do you favors, it seems, is that you actually have to like them. At least a little.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

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