People do business with people they like. Building rapport with professionals is one of the keys to creating lasting business relationships. On the surface, you may think you and a potential client have nothing in common. Delving beneath the exterior is where you’ll find commonalities. Here are five ways to build rapport:
1. Pay Attention.
So often we enter initial meetings with what we want on the brain, that we forget the other person should be our focus. As women we are natural forgetters of the self. In our personal lives we are usually so consumed with the needs of those around us that ours often are put on the back burner. Sometimes we fight to delete that part of ourselves when doing business. Don’t. It’s not a hindrance. In fact, it is a natural skill we should continue to utilize to our advantage.
When establishing rapport with a new professional, look for signs of commonality. Maybe they are wearing a dress in your favorite color, have natural curls you’d kill for – compliment them appropriately as an icebreaker. If they’re sipping coffee from their alma mater’s mug, mention it. If you notice an award or plague in their office, ask them about the honor. The greatest thing you can do is have them leaving the meeting feeling great about themselves because they’ll associate you with that pleasant feeling.
We all take pride in our families. It is perfectly OK to start a meeting over coffee asking how someone’s family is doing. You can say something as easy as: “Are you and your family long-time residents of the city?” Give them a moment to answer and pay attention to their response. If they mention they have children, ask their names and ages.
Share that you have children as well. If you don’t, maybe you have nieces or nephews or godchildren around that age. It’s about finding similarities.
3. Mutual Connections.
Don’t be afraid to peruse LinkedIn prior to your meeting to see if you share mutual connections or groups. The fastest way to build rapport is by sharing mutual friends in your network. If you and she are mutual friends with Debbie Johnson, remark on how great Debbie is and ask how they met.
It’s also OK to ask Debbie to introduce you both and maybe suggest the three of you grab lunch soon. Networking does not always have to be a one-on-one thing. In fact, if lunch between the three of you goes well, then you can suggest having a business talk by yourselves at a later date.
Find out what they love. If you know they always donate each year to the American Cancer Society, note how great you think the cause is and ask them how the charity became near and dear to them.
If they are a member of a networking group, see if you can get an invite to the next event to check it out. People like to talk about what is important to them. Create a space for them to do it.
Give them the green light to brag about their strengths. If you know they are vice president of a bank, ask about their area of expertise, what they love about it and their rise within the company.
Not only will it shine a light on how you may be able to work together, but it’s also a nice intro into a partnership conversation.
Overall, try to keep the conversation about them and less about you. Wait for them to ask you specific questions about yourself, rather than just voluntarily making it all about you. Great motivational speaker Tony Robbins would say rapport is about the power of mirroring. Listen to Tony’s ideas on how to do it successfully.