Comments are closed. You know it is important to spend time meeting the right people anddeveloping mutually beneficial relationships with them. But that’s not alwaysthe solution for busy training professionals. John Timperley gives his adviceon making the most of your networking opportunitiesInfluencing people, when you get the chance, is critical to your success inwinning the new assignment, or building relationships with those who can helpyou achieve your goals. Some people appear to get along effortlessly with newcontacts, while others struggle to make the right impact. So what’s the secret?In this article, I will reveal some of the techniques of the great‘connectors’. Creating great rapport is about helping the people you meet think they madea good choice. In short, they must immediately see some benefit from investingtheir time with you. You need to maximise those first few minutes they spendwith you, so that you can use it as a springboard to develop a relationship.Use them well and the door will be open for you to build a solid foundation fora mutually beneficial relationship. Use them badly and you may find the doorwell and truly locked. The champion connector knows that they need to cover thebases below when meeting people. As a trainer you will already know that you have, at the most, 15 seconds tomake a fabulous first impression – and first impressions stick. We live in aworld where we have information bombarding us all the time, so we must formquick judgments about people and things. Do you like the look of this person? For the connector, the answer has gotto be ‘yes’ or he will have real difficulty building a rapport with hisconversation partner. Think of a ‘no’ as starting a 100-metre race 10 yardsfurther back than the rest of the competitors – it’s going to be hard work andyour chances of success are slim. Fortunately, there are proven techniques wecan use to give ourselves a head start – the key question is, do you do thesethings? Smiles and panache A smile shows that you are warm, open and friendly. A poker face, rightly orwrongly, sends out a signal that you are serious, possibly cold andunapproachable. A smile carries your personality with it, lights up your faceand puts a sparkle in your eye. Use it to say ‘I’m really happy to see you’,even before you have opened your mouth. They say a picture is worth a thousandwords, so too is a smile to a connector. The way you introduce yourself sends an instant message to your contact. Thewords you use and the way you deliver them speak volumes about the way you feelabout yourself and your position in life. Suffice it to say, a downbeatdelivery shouts ‘boring’. Self-previews are the equivalent of surfing the radiochannels for one you like. Based on what you hear, you decide almostimmediately whether to move on to the next station or to tune in. It’s the samewith introductions. A poor one will have your contact tuning you out evenbefore you have got started. Use names Dale Carnegie described a person’s name as the ‘sweetest sound anyone everhears’. They pay attention when they hear their own name; they love you when youremember it, and you make them feel special when you use it. Be interested Some would-be rapport builders go wrong as soon as they utter their firstwords because their whole attitude to the process is misjudged. They thinkbuilding rapport is about impressing the other with their innate charm and wit.The ‘aren’t I a great guy’ approach seldom works, and is a high risk strategy. The professionals take the opposite, and altogether more successful, route.They become fascinated with the other person by asking them about themselves,finding out about their family, their views, their experiences, their hopes forthe future – in fact, that both parties find of interest. Seek to find out more about others and what makes them ‘tick’. Be interestedrather than trying to be interesting and you will both enjoy the conversation –you’ll be building great rapport as they share information, insights and viewswith you and its less wearing on your nerves than trying to roll out your partypiece one-liners in a desperate bid to entertain. You too! You instantly feel closer to people who have something in common with you,whether it’s your home town, a mutual friend, or the love of the same footballteam. It doesn’t really matter what, people usually love to have things incommon – they are in familiar territory and they like you for it. The implication of this social phenomenon for connectors is obvious. Listenfor areas of common interest or view, and ask questions that will get you onthe road to shared interests. Listen If you don’t listen to what your contact has to say you will surely fail todevelop the full level of rapport possible for the situation. Connectors havetrained themselves to listen, not only to the whole of what their conversationpartner has to say, but also to tune into the big rapport building moments.When they hear their conversation partner start to say ‘I think….I want…viewis’, they know that good material is on its way as they are revealing what isimportant to them. Reveal yourself You can only go so far in building rapport if you don’t tell people anythingabout yourself. The experienced connector’s rule of thumb is to provide enough personalinformation so their conversation partner gets some ‘hooks’ upon which to hangtheir own questions. That means matching your conversation partner’s level of openness – possiblymore if it is a relationship you wish to pursue (it stimulates the conversationand signals sharing) and divulging less if you don’t wish to go any deeper.This is all straightforward common sense, and it usually happens automaticallybecause people become guarded with folk they are unsure of. Nevertheless,consciously knowing what you are doing, and why, is a valuable weapon to use. Social gracesMaking contacts feel special is an attribute of all the great connectors.That means genuinely caring about the well-being of others, and observing, evenstretching, the social graces in order to demonstrate that you like and respectthe person with you. The connector’s red carpet treatment takes the form of including theircontact fully in the conversation, asking their views and listening attentivelyto their opinion. Rapport builders make sure that their companion iscomfortable, fed and watered and administered the range of social gracesappropriate to the situation and culture, from refreshing their drink toopening the door, passing the biscuits, to holding the umbrella – all of themadd up to you saying ‘you are important to me’. HandshakesNot every situation warrants a handshake, a hug, a kiss on the cheek or anykind of physical contact. You need to be guided by your own feelings at thetime and the social ‘norms’ of the particular situation. Nevertheless, if youdo have to shake hands, there are some do’s and don’ts to watch out for. A key aspect of building rapport is a good, firm handshake. Men’s handshakesare usually firm because they naturally have a stronger grip than their femalecounterparts. Your handshake, rightly or wrongly, telegraphs a great deal of informationabout you and your attitude. Many potential relationships have hit the rocksbefore they have begun because of a weak and lifeless handshake, which therecipient has interpreted as the attributes of their ‘co-shaker’. The acceptedprotocol for women is that it’s better to go for a firm handshake rather thanweak. If you go for weak, you will be in danger of having your fingers crushedby some of the more insensitive handshakers. Use space The Neuro Linguistic Programming gurus have pointed out the real importanceof knowing what space does to your rapport-building efforts. When you aresitting next to someone and want to show them something, say a book or report,your best bet for successful rapport building is to sit next to them. When you sit opposite, the reverse can happen. You are eyeball to eyeballwith the other person – a position that adds formality and seriousness to thesituation. You have the space between you, with an invisible line drawn downthe middle of it. Doctors have now moved away from sitting face to face with their patientsbecause it is a halfway between the informality of sitting next to each otherand sitting directly opposite each other with the desk as a barrier betweenyou. Connectors know that one of the great rapport-building secrets is to aligntheir body so that they are pointed in a similar direction to theirconversation partner. As a result, they and their contacts are much more likelyto view things in the same way and be on the same wavelength. Rapport Top connectors have developed a ‘nose’ for whether they are in or out ofrapport with someone. They have heightened their sensitivity to both the obvious and more subtlesigns of what people say, the way they say it, and how they hold themselves. Itis more than recognising a rebuff when asking for a commitment to action; it isabout reading between the lines of body language and noticing what people arereally thinking. What is the red light which warns you that you haven’t got rapport withsomeone? Simple, you will be acting and thinking differently to them. How to get on to their wavelengthYou can smile, use open body language, mirror them and usetouch appropriately to help build rapport, but if you really want to get undersomeone’s skin, you will need to get on their wavelength. And that means askingopen questions about them, using language that they will identify with andreally find out what they want for themselves. In a nutshell, what makes themtick?Much of what is written in sales textbooks can be boiled downto this: no matter what you are selling, if you are dealing with people, it’sall about:– Identifying what they want, and how you or your product orservice can help them get it– Encouraging them to like you, by creating and maintaining rapport– Giving them the ‘feel good’ factor that you are the rightanswerThe many thousands of sales techniques can all be slotted intothese three categories and, leaving aside the whacky and downright manipulativeones, they will all contribute. But whatever profession you are in, recognisethese three stages and plot your position in relation to your key relationships. Previous Article Next Article More than a winning smileOn 1 May 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.