Do you go to networking events? Do you enjoy them? Do you find you seem to rub people up the wrong way while at professional networking events? Do you normally get on with people in your personal 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.
How not to Network
However, networking is rarely as entertaining, unless you are witness to a character like in this video.
Rapport – an important Networking skill
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.
Networking Tips – How to improve your Rapport Rating
So aside from the natural rapport that can exist, here are some tips to improve your “rapport rating” with another person:
- Match the speed of their speech
- Match their speech, volume and tone
- Use similar language or words that they are using
- Stay at their level of language and refrain from speaking “over their head”
- Watch their body language, and mirror it where comfortable, without looking like you are copying everything they do
- Give something of yourself away – open up to them without shedding the complete life story of your business in a 30 second pitch
- Don’t pitch – endeavour to listen more than you talk; ask questions; learn more about their business to find a possible association
- Be a connecter – introduce them to someone else in the group who you feel would benefit from the introduction
- Demonstrate empathy towards them, creating a deeper understanding
- 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”…