Rapport building is a valuable skill for virtually any profession.

Whether you’re a leader, work in sales or customer service or any role where you are in regular contact with new people, being able to build rapport will make you more effective and influential in your role.

I had the chance to share a few thoughts about this skill with some church volunteers recently and thought that I would share these tips with you as well.  Most of them are just common sense, but sometimes we need little reminders (I know that I do) of what to do.

Here are my five tips for building rapport.

Smile – I know that this one’s obvious, but we’re much more approachable when we smile.  Alternatively, a greeting without a smile lacks warmth and makes it difficult for us to connect with others.

A solid handshake – A good handshake isn’t very memorable, but a bad one is.  Make sure that your handshake is firm (without breaking fingers) and doesn’t go on for too long.

Hanging your hand out like a dead fish comes across as insipid and lacking in confidence, a bad start to any relationship and to be avoided.  Whilst you may have used the same handshake for your whole life so far, it’s never too late to change, so if you’re conscious that you sometimes don’t come across well in this area, start practicing.

Get, and use, their name – To assist you to build rapport with others, getting their name early in the interaction is crucial.  It’s just as important to use it a few times, making the conversation more personal and increasing the likelihood that you’ll remember it the next time you meet them.

Be conscious of your body language – When meeting people for the first time, it’s obviously important that you appear relaxed and open in your stance and that you make good eye contact.  As the conversation goes on, it can also help to mirror the body language of the person you’re speaking to, not in an obvious way, but in a way that gives the impression that you’re “in synch” with each other.  Make sure as well that you’re focused on the person that you’re talking to, not looking around the room, which can give the impression that you’re looking for someone more interesting to talk to.

Find common interests, but keep it about them – People like people who share interests with them, so asking questions about their family, work, background, even favourite sporting teams can assist you to find common ground with the other person.  However, when you’ve found one or two points of affiliation, don’t take that as permission to talk too much yourself.  Ask questions to get the other person talking, enabling them to feel more comfortable and confident with you.

I hope that these tips are helpful for you in building rapport when you meet new people.

Do you have any great tips that you would like to add that assist you in building rapport with others?

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