What’s the cornerstone of a successful and thriving business, no matter who you are and what you do? Relationships. Solid, mutual, and enduring relationships. When they say, “It’s not what you know but who you know”, it’s true in many ways.
So how do you even get started? What does it take to get people to see you, “get” you, and want to know more? I mean, it’s not exactly going to work if you march up to somebody, shove your hand in their face, and say, “Hey, let’s be friends!” That never worked on the playground and it’s not gonna work in business either!
There’s a step that comes before you establish the friendship and officially become friends. You need to break the ice. You show up and take an interest in the person’s life. Share things about yourself and let that person know that you’re genuinely curious about them.
This all-important stepping stone is called rapport. It’s about communicating, understanding and exchanging ideas and feelings with another person. And it’s an integral part of any business or personal relationship.
The more engaging, genuine, and mutually beneficial relationships you have in the business world, the better. When it comes to it, people really do want to help other people. You just need to have the courage to ask. You also must be than willing to help others yourself.
The more opportunities you take to make a difference to someone else, the more it’ll come back to you. You’d probably get rewarded even better than you could imagine.
What I’ve said so far sounds easy enough, and these are the five ways I use to light that rapport fire which will get you going.
1. Be genuine and authentic.
You have to be real. Don’t fake it ‘til you make it. No hidden agendas here. It’s about you being your true and honest self and actually bringing a desire to help someone to the table. Don’t expect anything in return, it doesn’t work that way.
2. Find common ground.
Once I was talking to a woman who had a distinctive accent. At first I thought it was Russian, but I didn’t want to assume. So I asked her where she was from. She said that she’s from Moscow and I said, “No way, my mum is too!” So what happened here? I took a genuine interest in getting to know her. In the process I found out that we had some common ground.
3. Take real interest in your conversation.
When I ran FITzee Foods I talked to people all the time about their health goals, their weight and their diets. I did it because I wanted to get to know them. I didn’t do it just for the sake of selling more food. When you’re in it just for the sale, people can feel it. But when you genuinely care, people know that too. Always be genuinely interested in what people have to say.
4. Listen more, talk less.
People like to talk. This is your opportunity to let them. When you’re getting to know someone, let them have the floor. Hit the “mute” button (literally, if you have to) and try not to interrupt. Let them tell you what’s on their mind. Let them know you are really listening to what they’re saying and that you genuinely care.
5. Share a personal story.
I think this is the biggest one. Just like with the woman from Moscow, I shared a personal story. I’ve told my stories in the past about how my last business didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. I’ve shared tales of both my big wins and big flops. It makes you more relatable, more human. In this way you can’t help but draw the right people in.
This is rapport. This is you being your genuine and honest self, no hidden agendas, no tricks up your sleeve. You’re moving toward the ultimate goal, which is a genuine and mutually rewarding relationship.
After that rapport starts flowing, the connection is deepening and you’re beginning to feel that you found yourself a “keeper”. When the relationship is a new one, just keep in mind that it might feel a little bit one-sided for awhile. That’s OK! It might feel like you’re giving and giving and giving more in the beginning, but it will come back to you. Promise.
So here’s my challenge to you; put all of these surefire steps to successful rapport to work for you and tell me how it goes! Which one was the easiest for you? How about the biggest challenge? I admit that for me it would be “listen more, talk less”, but I’m working on it! Leave your comments below.