Have you ever met someone that you instantly liked? Or have you ever met someone that immediately rubbed you the wrong way? Of course you have.
For whatever reason, that other person did not know how to establish rapport with you. And their lack of rapport skills may have gotten in the way of you two doing business together or even having a pleasant conversation.
Unfortunately, the same thing might be said of you. You may not know how to establish instant rapport with everyone you meet.
It's critical, because in today's time-crunched world, you no longer have the luxury of spending days and weeks around one another, gradually getting acquainted, and eventually building some trust. You've got to make things 'click' now. So this is how you do it.
- Make an unforgettable first impression
You don't get a second chance at a first impression. First impressions tend to linger on, even if they're incorrect.
So make your first impression a positive one by exhibiting enthusiasm. Smile and make eye contact when you greet someone. Shake hands firmly.
Show enthusiasm for what you do. That was a key characteristic of Tommy Lasorda, the retired manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team. When he appeared on the Larry King show the night after his team suffered a crushing loss to Houston in the National League playoffs, you would have thought his team had won. When Larry asked him how he could be so happy, Tommy replied: "The best day of my life is when I manage a winning team. And the second best day of my life is when I manage a losing team."
If you project your enthusiasm to the people you are talking to, you will not only make a great first impression, you will also draw those people towards you.
- Find a reason to connect
When you first meet someone, look for a connector. Perhaps the two of you grew up in the same part of the country or are both avid fans of the same sport. Comment on that. Instant rapport is built on a foundation of common experience. So find one connector and then another and another.
- Use the other person's name
People love it - they absolutely love it - when you remember and use their name.
When you meet someone, ask for their name. And then use their name during your conversation.
If they give you a title or formal name, ask what they would like to be called. Being too casual too soon can make the other person feel uncomfortable. Too much informality can be read as a lack of warmth and respect on your part. For example, don't call Pamela, "Pam," or Dr. Jones, "Dr. J." unless told to do so.
If you forget someone's name, it can be embarrassing. You could use an old technique. When talking to someone and are unable to recall their name, simply say, "I'm sorry, but I've forgotten your name." When the other person responds with their first name, such as John, respond, "Well, of course I know your first name, John. I meant your last name." This way you get someone's full name with a minimum of embarrassment.
- Identify an obvious strength in the other person and affirm it
People love to be liked and admired. So find a positive trait in the other person and comment on it. It may be their keen insight on a topic, their sense of humor, their choice of colors etc.
However, remember there's a difference between schmoozing and sincerity. People can discern a fraud, so don't be one.
- Find a topic that makes the other person light up
There's always something.
The best conversationalists have an endless curiosity about everything. Everyone has a story they're itching to tell - you simply have to find the right topic.
Two way communication is also very important. You will obviously have to tell the other person some things about yourself and answer some questions they may ask. However, don't go on too long about yourself as you are building rapport. Turn the conversation around by asking, "How about you?"
- Show sincere interest in the other person
I know it's easy to assume that some people aren't that interesting, and it's easy to label some people as boring. More often than not, that's not the case. They simply don't know how to come out of their shell or talk about more than a few topics.
However, when you show sincere interest in the other person, they tend to feel safe. They become more open, animated and enthusiastic, which makes it all that much easier to show sincere interest.
In the process, throw in a little empathy. Show the other person that you understand what they are saying or feeling, and let them know you can relate to what they are saying. People absolutely love it when they feel you 'totally get' them.
- Come across as a winner
The simple fact is - people are attracted to winners, not losers. So it's okay to let your self-confidence shine through as well as some of your successes, without any hint of bragging.
It also helps to use a little humor, perhaps making yourself the brunt of a joke or some mild teasing. When I'm giving a presentation, one of my cardinal rules is 'never stay serious too long.' The same rule applies to conversation, especially when you're trying to build rapport.
When you ask highly successful people in business for the secret of their success, you'll often hear them say, "It's all about relationships." There's a lot of truth in that. And the good news is you can start building those relationships right now with these seven strategies.