Building a good rapport with someone is a crucial step in networking. It is something that we are all aware of but don’t necessarily do correctly. It doesn’t happen automatically or even very quickly sometimes; It could take 10 minutes, or a half an hour. But I believe, it’s the most important part of Networking. Building rapport is the process of developing a connection with someone else. Sometimes rapport happens naturally, however, rapport can also be built and developed consciously by finding common ground, and being empathic. If you have rapport with someone, you communicate with trust and sympathy. It means there is good interaction between people in different positions or roles such as speaker and audience.
You need to “build” a sense of trust. Without it, you are wasting your time. Whether you are at a Networking Event or stopping in to see someone, the same approach holds true. Here are a few things to consider when looking for common ground
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Use something you might share in common to initiate the conversation, then let them speak. About themselves, their children or their spouse. Don’t speak until they are done and you will get much further by just listening.
F – family
O – occupation
R – recreation
M – message – what they think is important
If you can’t think of how to start a conversation or even if you do, think F-O-R-M.
Ask them about their family, what they do for a living, what kind of recreation they enjoy. Most importantly, what they think is important.
When you are meeting someone in their office, in about 5 seconds, you should be able to scan the entire room. Look for family pictures, little league pictures/trophies or just something that s/he enjoys as a hobby. Find SOMETHING that you can talk about that is not business related. This is a great way to build an initial rapport.