We agreed last time that first impressions were important. Closely connected with first impressions is building rapport.

There must have been times when you felt comfortable, and felt a connection, with someone within a few minutes of meeting them. That connection is rapport. When it doesn’t happen, mind you, it’s not like there is ‘bad’ rapport – it’s just that not enough effort has been made to build rapport.

Do I hear you asking if it’s worth the bother? Yes, it is. Whether professionally, personally or socially, it is worth the effort invested. It forges good relationships, and can result only in positivity.

Now for the how…

Make small talk. This is not to be confused with filler. Instead, make small talk that includes substance. Have a number of small talk leads ready – place of stay, place of work, sport, weather, kids (if appropriate), venue, food – the list is endless. But make sure it’s not personal – stay non-intrusive and non-invasive!

Body language matters. Be aware – of their body language and yours. Pay attention to their gestures and facial expressions, and mirror them, along with their speech patterns.

Sounds simple and trivial, yet it is critical to successfully build rapport. Match their tone of voice and the pace at which they are speaking, for starters. Mimic posture, head positioning, facial expressions, and hand gestures.

Caution: don’t be obvious. Subtlety is key. Don’t imitate the other person. Simply reflect small instances of their body language and aspects of their speech patterns to send signals to their subconscious that you are like them.

The quickest, easiest and simplest way to gain rapport is to assume you have it already. In most situations this works perfectly. If you imagine the person you are talking to is a very dear and close friend; the way you speak, your body language and your attitude towards them is very subtly different from normal. On an unconscious level you will be sending signals that the subject will respond to and you will be leading them into feelings of familiarity and responsiveness.

Friends, that’s it from me in this series. Be sold on yourself, be self-confident, don’t allow your self- confidence to slip into arrogance, work on your first impressions, and build rapport – when you do these consciously often enough, it becomes second nature, and you CANNOT do things any other way. It just becomes the way you are. And it’ll come as naturally and as unconsciously as breathing. Trust me – I speak from experience!

Catch you later…have a wonderful life!