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How to build rapport in minutes

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 | By Amanda Jesnoewski

Relationships underpin every transaction in business. Whether it is communicating with your prospects or customers, suppliers or alliances, staff members or shareholders, your ability to establish rapport and build mutually beneficial relationships directly determines your business growth and profitability.


We all know that people do business with those they like and trust, but how do you establish that like and trust? Here are seven tips to help you build rapport in a matter of minutes to ensure a profitable relationship eventuates.


1. Find common ground


When you talk to people try to find out what you have in common with them. Like attracts like, and conversations are always more positive when the person you are talking to views you as being similar to them.


To do this, you need to ask different questions and listen closely for commonalities. Perhaps you've both been in business the same amount of time, share contacts in common, or have similar interests. For best results try to find professional and personal commonalities, just make sure it doesn't feel like an interrogation!


2. Maintain eye contact


When you're speaking to someone your eye contact will let them know you are interested and listening. If you're looking around the room or at others, they won’t feel like you are paying attention to them.


It's fine to look away every now and again to not seem as though you are “staring” them down, though for the most part maintain good eye contact. Deep down we all just want to be heard and this is a silent way of letting them know you're listening.


3. Present open body language


Another way to let the person you're speaking to know you're interested is to have open body language. Face your body toward them and at times even lean in when they are talking, this will show them you're engaged. Try to avoid leaning back, facing away from them or crossing your arms, as this can indicate you don’t agree or that you're uninterested.


4. Be aware of your facial expressions


Be conscious of your facial expressions when people are talking to you. If you're yawning they may think you're bored or disengaged (even if you are just tired), if you're frowning they may think that you disagree with them and if you're smiling and nodding they will think you agree or are telling them to go on.


Obviously there are exceptions to these rules, depending on what is being talked about. If they're recalling an upsetting event or telling you about a frustrating situation then of course frowning and shaking your head in disbelief is a perfectly appropriate expression.


5. Mirror the person you are speaking to


Mirroring or matching the body language, speech and tone of the person you are talking to can be a great way to build rapport quickly. Casually make the same gestures they do and if they talk slow, you talk slow or if they talk fast, you talk fast.


6. Be confident and friendly


People are naturally attracted to warm, bubbly people so make sure you are happy and friendly. Not only will it make you more likeable, you will also help those who are nervous to feel more relaxed around you.


7. Make them feel good about themselves


If an opportunity arises, pay the person you are talking to a genuine compliment, emphasis on genuine. When we make others feel good about themselves, they naturally warm to us and remember us more positively.


Do you have any tricks for building rapport quickly?