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Build A Better Rapport For Networking

Do you find you seem to rub people up the wrong way while at networking events? Do you normally get on with people in your social circles? If the answer is “Yes” to both those questions, consider these possibilities:

  • You choose your friends, you do not choose who will be present at a networking event
  • You are comfortable in small groups, but are petrified when surrounded by strange people
  • You are great at organising events for friends and family, but perhaps feel out of control when arriving at an event organised for professional purposes

A part of working life for someone in business is to network. It comes with the territory. Whether we should network or not, and whether that should be online or offline is a debate for another day.

There is a great post here on effective networking, but let’s dig a little deeper and look at how we can communicate better with our fellow networkers and help build a better rapport so they will remember you for the right reasons.

I recently watched an episode of “Come Dine with Me” where Coronation St (English Soap Opera) actors cooked for each other for charity. (Ken Morley, who played a great character Reg Holdsworth was the worst behaved dinner guest I have yet to come across. He deliberately wound people up the wrong way, was equally loveable, but most importantly made for great entertainment.

However, networking is rarely as entertaining, unless you are witness to a character like this:


Rapport can be described as that nice warm feeling and good chemistry we feel when we are in communication with another person or group of people.

Generally what is happening is that the value systems are in sync, and people are always looking for the good in the other person. Once a connection of sorts is formed, the next phase of the relationship is developed, where trust becomes a driving factor.

Incidentally, I believe the trust was there from the outset, as it’s a non-verbal communication and one of those instincts within us, that we choose to listen to or ignore.

So aside from the natural rapport that can exist, here are some tips to improve your “rapport rating” with another person:

  1. Match the speed of their speech
  2. Match their speech, volume and tone
  3. Use similar language or words that they are using
  4. Stay at their level of language and refrain from speaking “over their head”
  5. Watch their body language, and mirror it where comfortable, without looking like you are copying everything they do
  6. Give something of yourself away – open up to them without shedding the complete life story of your business in a 30 second pitch
  7. Don’t pitch – endeavour to listen more than you talk; ask questions; learn more about their business to find a possible association
  8. Be a connecter – introduce them to someone else in the group who you feel would benefit from the introduction
  9. Demonstrate empathy towards them, creating a deeper understanding
  10. Don’t lie, brag or name drop just to feed your own ego – leave the ego in the car or hotel foyer

Rapport fuels understanding, commitment, and ultimately fantastic connections, which will lead to referrals and paid projects. It requires genuine effort, time and resources, as networking is not for the faint-hearted!

Share with us the last time you came away from an event and thought to yourself “Wow, that person is really great” or “They knew exactly what I was talking about” or “I really felt we were on the same wave length”…

Elaine Rogers is a Business Trainer, Coach and Writer. She takes pain away. She helps soothe the rough and tumble of running a business through education, information and coaching. And a bit of entertainment. Elaine hangs out at The Smart Train She provides online training and coaching solutions in the areas of MS Office Skills, Business Skills, and Soft Skills. She also provides exclusive content for her ever growing email list.

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  • Hi Elaine, I have to admit, I’m was generally not a big fan of most organised networking events in that you often ended up saying hello to a great many people, but actually having very few meaningful conversations. Now, however it is possible to pre-arrange who you should talk to through using social media well. Combine this with your rapport building tips above and you end up making networking events a lot more valuable.

  • Thanks Niall, I would agree with you. Many peoplen I have met just feel awkward! No two ways about it. However,u00a0 they are nfocusing too much on themselves, they could be focusing on the nother people – helps to shed those nerves!But having some form of a plan, or strategy is a great way to ensure you get something from the meeting, and not relying on the meeting to provide you with… whatever! I believe you get out what you put in. Thanks for the comment.

  • Agree with Niall, I much prefer to chat to people I have ‘met’ u00a0on social media and build the relationship with them rather than short conversations with lots of people. Good post Elaine

  • When I go to networking meetings (which I thoroughly love) I make a point of meeting at least two new people to chat to and get to know.u00a0 I totally agree that if you make it about them instead of you the chances are better for a good rapport to be there.

  • Thanks Lorna.nI find the regular (offline) networks fantastic to meet people again and again, choosing the people to have a 1-1 with, and learning more about their business and possible collaborations. Sure, they are time consuming, but often worth the effort.nnUltimately it depends on the type of business you have. I imagine it’s of great benefit to you to do a lot of networking and connecting online, and your offline networking is probably very focused. I am still learning, but have noticed a lot of nasty habits from people who don’t put any thought into their behaviour.

  • Great comment Mairead, thanks 🙂 I similarly like to talk to minimum of 2 new people at regular meetings. I ALWAYS learn something new.

  • Great Blogpost Elaine and totally agree with you ,some great tips to make your networking experiences more better …… I also like your comment about focusing on the other person and not yourself. Possibly if we listen more we will be heard ! .

  • Janine Gilmour

    I gravitate to the money-back model more strongly that a few of your other options. While I liked them, maybe you have some data to back up the effectiveness of each approach?

  • Maricel
    Very interesting post. I recently bought a suit online. It arrived today and I am very happy with it. I won’t name the company but if you do a search online for ‘buy suit online’ they feature 3rd in Google Ads. I buy a lot online but generally from sites I know particularly Amazon. As you may guess, this was my first time buying clothes online and I was concerned about the ‘fit’. I don’t think that any of my friends had bought suits online. So, the reason I went online was to check it out rather than as a committed shopper. I needed a new suit for months but had not bothered to go to town to get one. I did go to one retail shop but the big range of suits did not suit my taste. I suppose I want the same as what I always wear not what someone thinks is fashion this year.
    My wife was extremely surprised when I told her I had bought a suit online. So why did I? The website looked very nice. The process of measuring up for a suit was great. You got your pick of fabrics, colours and designs. They also had a person available on Live Chat (but I didn’t talk to them). The price was good – i intentionally went for a lower price just in case it all went horribly wrong. I also got a second pants as I find that the trousers do not last as long as the jacket. I checked out their Facebook page. There were good reviews and importantly they looked real and not all super positive. They also had a promise that if suit did not fit that they would pay cost of alterations locally. I am a regular enough size so that is not particularly important but still nice to see (similar to point number 4 in your list). I also checked out some blogs and no major problems surfaced. I then checked out a competitor but came back to my original website – their suits were cheaper but when postage was added it worked out the same. I will be buying more suits online as I think the suit is of good quality for the price. Now that I am registered, ordering another suit might only take 10 to 15 minutes. It was a combination of the slick user experience, price and overall feeling that the business was legitimate that made me confirm my order (using PayPal).

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