Who you know and how your relate really does matter. In fact, your rapport with others, or lack thereof, can either make or break a deal. Most rapport is developed over a long period of time. However, in today’s fast paced world, it seems, time is a most valuable and scarce commodity. I believe the challenge is simply this: How can we develop rapport in a short amount of time, even in an instant?
Your first impression is essential to rapport, so make the most of it by making it unforgettable. Be enthusiastic and outgoing. Smile and make eye contact when your greet people. Shake hands firmly. This fosters confidence and also shows that you genuinely care about people, making them want to connect with you also.
Next, find a reason to connect. People need to feel like they are understood and rapport is instantly built on a foundation of common experience and common interest.
It is a fact, still to this day, that we all like to hear our own name, so make it a point to learn the names of everyone that you meet. Use word associations if you have trouble remembering names. Also, to help you remember names, repeat the name over the course of the conversation. Caution: Be careful to use the title and name that people give you. I have found that being too casual too soon can make a person uncomfortable. Too much information can be read as lack of warmth and genuine feeling. For example, don’t call Gwendolyn, “Gwen” or Willie “Will”. When in doubt, just ask.
Once you have their name down, identify an obvious strength in the individual and affirm it. Everyone has a positive trait that can be readily picked up on. Remember, there is a difference between schmoozing and sincerity. Most people can detect a fraud, so don’t be one.
Once you have made a genuine connection, follow-up the initial contact with meaningful communication. Write a note (Yes – hand written notes still work and adds a personal touch), or send an email. Reaffirm the purpose of your connection and why the person is valuable. You will want to do this with warmth because this will open the door for another meeting.
I close this article / blog by saying: Rapport definitely takes two. It is developed through meaningful, affirming interactions, and characterized by mutual trust. It can take time, but, following the information presented here, you will find yourself on the fast track to instant rapport and success.