I spent a lot of time this past weekend at my friend and Rabbi's shul installation. One point noted by many speakers is that this Rabbi is beloved for his approachability.
This is not a small thing; how can you offer counsel and support when people are afraid to talk to you? And it's not necessarily easy to achieve, given the title and its baggage, as well as the popular rabbinic costume of dark suit, beard and hat. [I have my own problem of PermascowlTM, thanks largely to bone structure. It was useful on the New York subway of my youth, but it's just annoying now.]
Several years ago, in a different venue, I asked what Rabbis could do in order to avoid being intimidating. Here are some of the responses I received:
* Open your divrei torah with a joke [I don't like this approach, where it is intentional; I know the gemara about it, but it feels like pandering. "Please, please! Like me! Look, I'll do a trick for you!" I'll tell a joke when I feel like it.]
* Play racquetball
* Have a pet python [I had a boa constrictor as a kid, does that count?]
* Always have a joke on hand
* Walk around with a yo-yo
* Keep a kazoo, maracas or set of castanets with you
* Be seen socially with your wife, outside of a shul setting
* Practice smiling
* Dye your beard purple
* Wear a blue shirt (the beard is more likely; I don't know how to match a tie with a coloured shirt)
What would you add?