Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone for the first time and it feels like you’ve known them forever? You fall so deep into conversation that it seems like there is no one else in the room? This doesn’t necessary happen just with a romantic interest; it happens with connections made between people in many circumstances, even in business and it’s called rapport.

Confidently navigating a career requires a great deal of connection with other people. You have relationships with your co-workers, your boss, clients, customers, prospects, or leads and if you’re not comfortable connecting with other people, that can leave you at a disadvantage. If you tend to be an introvert, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Connecting with other people at this level doesn’t just have to happen by chance. It can happen by design, or with intention as well.

Here are 5 tips to develop rapport with someone you meet.

  1. Have an awareness of the other person. Be present with only them while you’re talking. Don’t glance at the door to see who else is coming in or say hello to people you know as they pass. Look them in the eye, engage with them, smile and be open.
  2. Have a willingness to learn more about them. This requires asking questions. Start with where you’re at, “What brought you to this event?” You can also use the “FORM” strategy and ask questions in these 4 areas:

           F—Family and friends
           M—Money and meaning

  1. Zero in on common interests. When you were asking questions, what did you discover? Do they like the same music? Have kids the same age? Raised in the same town? When you find a common interest, build on it. Ask more questions and deepen that connection by letting them talk about themselves.
  2. Don’t make it about you. There’s a fine line between sharing a bit about yourself or answering someone else’s questions and going off on a full tangent about your life from birth to present moment. In a culture where it’s all about immediate gratification and the “me” factor, building rapport goes in the opposite direction. To build rapport you have to listen. You’ll be glad you did because you’ll have valuable information about that person in which to build a professional relationship. (Tip: Be sure to jot down what you learned after the event.)
  3. Pay attention to how they stand, their gestures and phrases. People communicate with a certain style. They tend to be comfortable in a certain stance and use gestures, words or phrases repeatedly. As you become aware of their style you can sprinkle in elements of it in your own communication with them. (Caution: A little bit goes a long way. Too much and it will be reminiscent of your little sister repeating every single word you said just to irritate you.)

You’ll get comfortable as you do this more often and more confident as a result. You’ll have the ability to foster genuine relationships which helps with the “know, like and trust” factor because people do business with and recommend or refer those that fall into this category. You’ll have the ability to make connections for other people from the information you learn which makes you a valuable contact to have. You’ll also have the ability to easily strike up conversations with anyone, even the boss’s boss.

Until next time, here’s wishing you the clarity you deserve!