Good communicators are magnetically attracted to PR; people who often build rapport naturally, on an unconscious level. But some analysis of how rapport happens could help to speed up the process allowing you to use it more effectively, in a myriad of different business contexts.
Create trust: Be natural, listen actively, don’t interrupt and ask open-ended questions. That way you can build on the conversation and find common connections. If you find you’ve drifted off and stopped listening, try to re-focus.
Use your body: Facial expression is important; Smile, nod to affirm you are listening and maintain a positive, upright posture with arms unfolded. These rapport building methods are not new, but they really work.
Do your research: If there’s a contact you feel you need to get to know, then find out about them. A little knowledge about events they’ve attended, facts about their work history or colleagues you have in common will lead to a more natural approach. Once you are introduced you will also have some conversational threads you can pick up on.
Follow up: Continue the engagement and nurture the relationship. Drop a brief e-mail to your new contact, expressing how good it was to meet. Use LinkedIn or Twitter to create more access points. And try to add value to the relationship by thinking of small ways you could stay you on their radar.
This video lesson from Stellar Learning packs 20 ways to build rapport into 5 minutes, including 6 questions to open up a conversation. It’s well worth a look.
For more practical business advice for PR professionals see The Works blog.