Building rapport and engaging with people—whether it’s in person or online—takes practice.
Rapport is about getting people thinking, feeling, reacting and involved. For business professionals, rapport builds influence, relationships, and sales.
Here are seven tips on how to get in sync with others and develop rapport:
1. Be approachable. In person, carry yourself in such a way that is easy-going, friendly, and confident. When you’re online, have a welcoming and intriguing profile. Be sure to use a professional headshot for your avatar.
2. Use their name. In person, the sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own name. Sprinkle it into a conversation. Online, using Twitter as an example, if the person’s name is not in their handle, click on their profile and get their name. It will take only a few seconds but sends that wonderful message of, “I care; I took the time to find out.”
3. Understand that you can still have rapport with someone even though you disagree. If you don’t see eye-to-eye, you can be respectful and appreciate differing opinions. Communication and relationships are based on compromise. With both in person and online communication, you don’t have to agree. A simple acknowledgement is usually sufficient — and appreciated.
4. Stay upbeat. No one likes to be around a complaining, negative individual with a victim mentality. It’s awfully difficult to connect and engage with people who are leaking poison. Be known for your positive attitude and willingness to help others—yes, even strangers.
5. Discover the fine art of small talk. This will help in person and online—especially if you feel shy or nervous. Have a few “conversation starters” up your sleeve in case you run into a lull in a conversation. Always be looking for similarities that connect you with others. For instance, you may enjoy the same sports team, like the same music, or travel to the same vacation spot.
6. Notice how others handle information. This is especially important in live conversations. It may be at a networking breakfast, on Skype, or a u-Stream video. Does the other person like “the big picture” or do they prefer the fine details? Follow their lead.
7. Watch and listen to people. Pay attention to those you admire who seem to easily connect and engage with others, particularly strangers. Whether it’s in person or online, observe the conversations, posts, and Tweets. What works for them? How do they break the ice and bond with others? How do people respond to them?
Rapport is about a two-way connection. How do you know that you’ve built rapport? You experience a genuine sense of trust and respect with another human being. You easily engage with them, regardless of how different the two of you may be. There’s a true sense of comfort. That’s rapport.