Building Rapport: 7 Steps to Starting a Great Relationship

Image courtesy of Zach Taylor's photostream

Image courtesy of Zach Taylor’s photostream

Building rapport is about making a two-way connection between people. Essentially, it is the foundation for any relationship. Always keep in mind that rapport-building is never about you, it’s always about them. Here are 7 easy steps to start building rapport with a new client.

1.    Remember people’s names: “Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” –Dale Carnegie, How to win Friends and Influence People. Few sounds are as near and dear to a person as the sound of his or her name. Don’t ever change a name. Remember it correctly and be prepared to use it a few times during the conversation.

2.    Find Common Ground. When asking about another person’s background, look for areas you have in common, such as hometown, hobbies, or schools attended. Think about other connections that may extend as well. .

3.    Be on the Same Side and Reflect Back What You Observe. If you’re on the opposite side of a desk, consider coming out from behind it. Being on the same side sends a message that you are really on his or her side. Pay attention to how they speak and match their rate, speed, and volume. Pick up on key words that are used and subtly use build these into your own vocabulary.

4.    Give a sincere compliment: Everyone likes to be complimented! For example, if they have a beautiful office or home, they are proud of that. When appropriate, you can sincerely pay a compliment. In the process, you communicate that you are interested in him/her, that you have noticed something they do that stands out, and that you aren’t afraid to say something complimentary.

5.    Pay attention to your appearance. The best rule I’ve seen is dress like your customer, only a little better. For example, let’s say that you are wearing grey slacks, a blue button-down collar shirt. If you are meeting with managers, you might want to dress it with a blazer and a tie. If you are meeting with non-managers, you might want to consider removing the blazer and tie.

6.    Accommodating nonverbal Cues. Very simply, you want to look nonthreatening. The number one nonverbal technique to use to look more accommodating is to smile. Make good eye contact. Adding a slight head tilt shows the other person that you have comfort with them and trust them. Another nonverbal to try and maintain is a slightly lower chin angle. How you shake hands matters too. An accommodating handshake is one that matches the strength of the other, and also takes more of a palm up angle.

7.    Be Forthright and Respectful. Say what you are going to do and do what you are going to say. Provide open and candid responses to questions. Be sure to clarify and time constraints. Demonstrating that you are diligent communicates that what is important to you is also important to me.

AboutChristopher Range

Christopher Range started with Proforma in October of 2009. His primary areas of expertise are e-commerce, marketing, management and training with interests in consumer products. Chris has lead the development of hundreds of successful stores for many Fortune 5,000 companies. He is also highly experienced in webex demonstrations and site management training. Chris graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. When he’s not writing a blog article, he can be found kayaking, mountain biking or watching college football on Saturdays. Go Bucks!


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