6 Golden Rules of Rapport

When we set out to influence others, we understand that people almost exclusively do business with people who they know, like and trust. With this in mind, many salespeople gravitate toward establishing trust with their client above all else. The challenge with that strategy is that in a stable business environment, clients will trust just about anyone to follow through on their promises. So if you really want to influence others and attract loyalty, you also have to get people to like you.

Persuading your prospects and collaborators to like you is all about building rapport. Rapport is about more than chatting with your clients about sports or the weather before you start talking business. If you really want to excel at building relationships and making a good impression on those around you, begin following these six golden rules of rapport today.

Put on a Smile

The first decision anyone makes when they meet you for the first time is whether they find you attractive. I’m not talking about a romantic attraction — I mean that they’re deciding whether you give off a warm, magnetic glow. After all, nobody wants to do business with miserable people. Even if you’re not conventionally attractive, people in your orbit will be drawn to you if you put on your game face and have a happy, friendly smile.

Keep in mind that people can also hear a smile in your voice! If you’re selling or taking a meeting over the phone, your client will assume you’re more charismatic, friendly and fun to be around if you smile, get on your feet and stand up straight.

Show Genuine Interest

Whether you like to admit it or not, you’re the most important person in your life. The same goes for your prospects and clients — their world revolves around them, even if they don’t seem self-centered at all on the surface. So when you’re meeting someone for the first time, don’t think about how you can seem interesting and remarkable. Instead, center the other person in the conversation by asking them questions and showing sincere interest.

The way to show real interest isn’t to turn the conversation into an interview by asking one question and moving on to the next. You want to uncover this person’s layers by absorbing their answers and using them to ask another related question about their life. Instead of asking, “How was your day?” and moving on, follow up by asking something like, “What made it so great?”

Listen Actively

When you’re talking with a client or someone in your network, you should absolutely never be thinking obsessively about the next witty thing you’ll say while they’re speaking. If you want to encourage them to talk about themselves, all you need to do is provide a silence for them to fill. In fact, if you’re trying to convince your client of something, you’ll often be highly successful if you just let them talk freely and come to your conclusion on their own.

You can also pepper in supportive words like, “wow,” “yes,” “really” and “nice” as your client is speaking to encourage them to continue. Some people get insecure if they feel like they’re going on and on about themselves, and by using these words and some friendly gestures, you’re sending them the message that they can feel confident in continuing to share even more.

Use People’s Names When Possible

When I tell you to use names frequently in conversation, I don’t mean that you should do the stereotypical telemarketing trick where the salesperson uses your name about 50 times in one call. What I mean is that you should use your client’s name sparingly and meaningfully to create significance. Saying, “Steve, it was great to meet you today,” instead of just, “It was great to meet you” makes Steve feel a lot more special. You can also create a VIP experience for your client by doing something as small as just reserving a seat with their name on it.

This strategy doesn’t just apply to the client’s own name. You should remember any name they bring up in conversation and take note of it to personalize their experience later on. If you’re able to ask about their spouse or kids by name in your next meeting, they’ll notice and be touched that you care so much.

Keep Their Interests at the Forefront

When you’re offering something to a client or prospect, it’s essential to frame the conversation in terms of their interests rather than your own. You’ll get nowhere by ranting on and on about what you offer without elaborating on how those special offerings will actually affect the client. Figure out what your client wants and make their needs the center of the discussion. If you don’t understand what their needs are, ask.

Instead of saying, “We offer an extended warranty,” you can say, “When you choose us, you’ll benefit from an extended warranty.” This phrasing helps your client visualize what it’ll be like to choose your services, and makes them feel like you actually care about delivering the benefits you’re promising them.

Sincerely Make Them Feel Important

Think about something in your life that made you feel majorly important and really seemed to come from the heart. Chances are, you’re thinking of a time when someone showed you gratitude or recognition. Gratitude and recognition are the two most powerful ways to make someone feel special and appreciated. If you want people to like you, a simple compliment or “thank you” easily puts you on the right path.

It’s really the thought that counts in these scenarios. When you’re looking to make someone feel important, put some serious thought into the best way to do it. You’ll find a way to lift them up that’s individualized and makes them feel amazing.

As long as you smile, show interest, listen, call people by name, put others first, and make people feel important, you’re on your way to making great friends and creating incredible relationships. With this understanding of rapport, you can do more of the things you’re great at and influence people in any environment.

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