How do I build rapport with someone I just met?
You have an important meeting tomorrow, you’ll be selling an idea that you spent many sleepless night thinking about it. You cannot afford to lose the battle. Despite all the preparation, you lack one crucial element to help you win over people.
Rapport is all about highlighting common interests and establishing a mutual feeling of friendliness. When people like each other – whether in business, friendship, or both – they tend to help each other. This means a more effective negotiating process, and a higher chance to success.
Did you know that first impression is made within the seven seconds you meet someone? But even if you do, what can you do to impress and connect, and win someone over at the first time meeting them? You might not constantly be in positions where you have to convince others, but building rapport means putting you in a position that is easier to convince someone.
You don’t have to be a born charmer to win someone over, the art of making connections is a learned skilled. While the content you deliver is considerably important, here’s some techniques used by professionals, to immediately build rapport at your first meeting.
Watch your body language and tone
Ever seen videos of company CEOs or leaders presenting a product or even a new idea? There’s one thing they have in common, hand gestures. Through hand gestures, you relay comfort and helps in establishing trust. Keep your arms at comfortable distance form your body, not too tightly held, and avoid concealing your hands. Your hands should not be in in pockets, bags or even behind your laptop.
We all like to know that the other party have our undivided attention. If you are constantly averting your eyes, this could be interpreted into a lack of confidence, worst? Others will feel that you don’t care about what they have to say. Even if the topic sounds boring to you, try to maintain 60 to 70% of eye contact. And to project empathy and give affirmations, nod when necessary.
Tone of voice
While the content you say is fairly important, the tone and the way you deliver information is crucial. You never want to appear timid or indecisive. We tend to speak more quickly when we feel nervous, this can make you sound tense. Your client must trust that you are knowledgeable enough to guide them, and you should project confidence and certainty when communicating. Try lowering your tone and speak more slowly making yourself sound more interesting.
We actually subconsciously do this to a certain degree, but when you first encounter someone, try to pay more attention and mirror the non-verbal behaviors of the other party. This can send a signal that you are engaged and listening with intent.
In some cases, you might want to mirror their voice and tone. Because to hear someone and to have them hear you, you will need to be sensitive to the way they express and absorb information.
At the end of your meeting, thank the person for their time. This can show that you recognize a person for who they are and that you’re interested in them. While each of these can be useful tools when you’re trying to build rapport, the most important is to find out what is authentic to you. If your mannerism appears too forced, it will be an instant rapport crusher.