Rapport building isn’t just something you do when you first meet someone or as a part of a sales call or a negotiation. As leaders (and human beings) one of our goals must be to build better and deeper relationships, and one of the tangible ways we can do that is through an ongoing other-focused process of building rapport.
While you likely knew that, now that you have been reminded how important this activity is, here are seven specific activities that you can employ at anytime to build rapport and build relationships.
- Know or learn what is meaningful to the other person.This could be learning about their hobbies, or whatever they are particularly interested in. Everyone has these items, whether a favorite sports team, their alma mater, something about their family, type of food or a favorite activity. Make it your goal to know what these things are for everyone you can.
- Learn something new at every opportunity. Make it your goal to learn something new about the person in every encounter. Whether is it finding out what their “things” are, learning why those things are important to them, or whatever it is – make it your goal to learn something new with every encounter.
- Keep track. It is great to learn things about others; it is folly to trust it all to your memory. Create a process for keeping track of these important pieces of information. The information is important, and treat it that way. Capture what you learn.
- Ask meaningful questions. Even people who are straight-up business focused want to be understood and valued for who they are. Whether your questions are business or personally focused, recognize that when we ask the other person for their opinion or advice (and we really want it) it will build rapport with that person.
- Share meaningful information. As you know more about people and what is important to them, share things with them. This may be informally, when you see them mentioning something that you read, for example. But taking it one step further, if you know what they care about and are interested in and see or hear something about it, why not let them know? Consider sending them a note with an article attached, or a link to a website you saw, a suggested book they would be interested in. These are just three examples to get your creative juices flowing! This seemingly simple idea shows people you are thinking about them and that you care about them.
- Listen. When you really listen to people you are investing not only in their ideas, but in your relationship with them. We can do this anytime and it will make a world of difference.
- Say thank you. One of the earliest things we learned in life was to say thank you. Say it more often, and remember to not just say it, but write it – always remember the power of a written thank you note.
Taken separately, each of these ideas will make a difference. Taken together they are a series of steps that when done consistently and authentically will build rapport and relationships faster than you can imagine.
How will you get started?