Oct 6 2011

LetsLunch Networking Tip #3: Rapport First Ask Second

A guiding principle of being a good salesman is to focus on building rapport with your prospects.  Having strong rapport increases the likelihood they’ll buy your product especially when they feel a connection they don’t have with another salesman.  Building rapport is part of the game and it’s also critical to networking.  Each time you meet a new contact you are creating a relationship.  If someone doesn’t feel a connection with you they’ll be less willing to help.  This is why you should focus on fostering each relationship before asking for anything.  Here are some tips for building rapport with your lunch match and other people you may network with:

  1. Find a Common Interest.  People connect with someone who shares a similar interest whether it be cartoons, sports, video games, tech innovation, sailing, or brewing beer.  We tend to like people that are similar to us which makes feeling a connection that much easier.  Discussing your shared interests will help make your next lunch and future interactions flow smoothly.
  2. Repeat, Approve, and Relate.  Most people like to know the person sitting across the table is engaged in the conversation.  You can show you’re listening by briefly summarizing what they said (repeat), make a suggestion that you agree (approve), and relating it to a personal experience (relate).  This strategy can be very effective at showing you’re engaged but it can also come across as a little fake when overused.
  3. Don’t be afraid to Swear.  The LIGHT use of curse words can set a casual mood and make it easier for your lunchmate to relate.  Guy Kawasaki covers this in his most recent book, Enchantment, and recommends you: swear infrequently, when you can’t control it, when the audience supports it, and if you keep it tame.  He also emphasizes that swearing can be a huge risk so look for cues from your match before dropping a shittake…definitely avoid the F-bomb.

Above all else, be yourself.  People find it easier to relate to someone who is genuine.  Feel free to share your rapport building tips in the comments and help us improve the networking experience with your tweets and shares.