Business Networking Skills For Building Rapport

Building rapport is one of the fundamental business networking skills to master so here are 10 networking tips for success and how to avoid being a rapport wrecker

Remember networking is all about building relationships with people…NOT about selling and the first step in any relationship building is to establish a level of rapport with the other person so you are having a genuine conversation rather than stilted small talk which party is interested in.

Once someone feels connected with you they will naturally want to find out more about what you do, help you and possibly in the longer term buy from you or refer your services.

So, how do you build rapport?

  1. Make eye contact and smile.
  2. Introduce yourself using your first name only.
  3. Repeat their name – it always makes people feel good hearing their name and it helps you to remember it.
  4. Start off by asking really easy small talk questions ‘have you been to these events before?, ’who do you know here?’ and of course ‘what do you do?’
  5. Look for ‘things in common’ to talk about – perhaps there are people you know in common, or are based in the same town or your businesses are related.
  6. Ask further questions related to what the other person has said which shows you are listening and that you are interested.
  7. Listen…and show that you are listening.
  8. Build on what they have said e.g. ‘the food is good here’ …’yes, it is, I particularly like’
  9. Ask for their business card and make related comments ‘Ah yes, I have heard of your company before – how long have you been established?’
  10. Keep your comments positive at all times.
  11. ‘Mirror’ their body language. This is one of the most interesting business networking skills – research has show that people who are in rapport with each other display matching or mirror image body language. Similarly you can build rapport by copying their body language – don’t worry they won’t notice! This is just one of many NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming Techniques).

Now you can master business networking, just take on board the networking tips to avoid becoming a rapport wrecker.

Rapport Wreckers

Building rapport can take a few minutes or more, destroying it can take seconds. So what are some of the biggest rapport wreckers that should be avoided at all costs?

  1. Disagreeing with the person you have just met however trivial the point may be – (an exception to this is if someone makes an offensive remark which you would not want to be party to in which case you would not want to build rapport anyway).
  2. Talking too much – remember you are trying to develop a two way conversation, not give a speech!
  3. Giving a sales pitch.
  4. Criticising others.
  5. Any negative comments.