Rapid Rapport Building 101
Rapid rapport building is a critical skill for almost any interpersonal endeavor, but it is especially important for an entrepreneurial woman who needs to wear so many different hats and has to interact with dozens of different kinds of people.
What exactly is rapport? It’s the mutual feeling of comfort that both parties can communicate and be heard and understood. It’s the sense that two people can know, like, and trust each other. Women are often very good at establishing rapport, but they often will not use their rapport-building to their advantage to close a sale.
Here are seven rapid rapport building strategies that every entrepreneurial woman should learn.
- Greet everyone with a smile. Pretty obvious, right? It seems like a no-brainer, but a smile can do wonders to put the other person at ease. If you are anxious or nervous you will let that nervousness limit your smile. If you need to practice in the mirror to get your smile to look relaxed and genuine, do it. The more you smile, the more others will be drawn to you and will listen to what you have to say.
- Make eye contact. Look the other person straight in the eye and offer a firm handshake. Don’t stare into their eyes, but don’t be afraid to look squarely in their face. And as you talk, look at them, don’t look down or away. Don’t talk past them. And as a side note, one of the biggest rapport-killers is to have your cellphone in front of you and you are constantly checking it. Put the phone away and do not answer or respond to it when you are trying to make a good impression. Guess what, people do NOT care how busy or popular you are.
- Ask open-ended questions, the type that requires a full answer, not just a yes or no. When you are trying to establish rapport, the worst strategy for you is to keep talking. You want to get to know the other person. You want them to like you. And people like other people who are interested in them. Remember, the one who asks the questions is the one who controls the conversation. That’s why interviewers always guide where the interview goes, not the interviewee. But it’s not just about asking good open-ended questions. Once you ask, you have to
- LISTEN to the answers. You are listening for a problem you could solve, for something you have in common, or something that reminds you of a situation you were in that was “emotional” for you.
Once you’ve heard about them and have identified a problem you or your product could solve, it’s time to “change their emotional state.” Share a story that evokes emotion. You might tell them about something funny that happened yesterday, or you might share a story you saw on the news that made you sad. You want to evoke an emotion. If you can get the other person to laugh with you, your chances of making a sale or creating a long-term relationship increases dramatically. So right now, as soon as you finish reading this article, think about three or four stories that either make you laugh or make you cry and practice telling them. The better you get at telling emotion-provoking stories, the more rapid rapport building you are going to do.
- If all else fails and you can’t think of a story, sincerely compliment the other person. Genuine flattery will open a lot of doors.
- And finally, learn how to Mirror and Match. Now, this can be creepy if you are too obvious, so don’t go to an extreme. But you need to be aware of the other person and try to talk at the same rate of speech, have similar body language, and use a similar vocabulary and stay on similar topics. For instance, if you are a fast-talker but the other person talks slowly, you want to modify your speech to slow down. If the other person is leaning back and slouched in their chair, you do not want to be straight-backed and leaning in. If the other person is sharing stories or needs around their kids or family, don’t follow up with a story about your greatest business success. The idea of building rapport is to find areas of commonality and to be able to share thoughts and feelings.
So there you have it. Seven rapid rapport building strategies that will increase your sales closing rates, will get you asked on more dates, and will create more friends and long-lasting relationships.
If you have a favorite rapport building tip or strategy, share it with us in the comments below.
Here’s to your success!
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