• Stuart Chant

How to Build Rapport

A client met a man at a business mixer; they exchanged names, she asked a few questions, then, after a few minutes of talking, she could not think of anything else to ask. An awkward silence ensued until she said: “I am going to get a drink.” Walking away, she felt bad because of the little she had learned about the man, she suspected he might be a great prospect.

If something like this has happened to you, you are not alone.  Meeting new people can be nerve-racking.  Your parents likely warned you of the perils of talking to strangers.   We often fear these interactions, because we are conditioned to from a young age.

Of course, meeting strangers holds no fear for some, because those people are ready with an inexhaustible supply of stories about themselves.  (If you had to choose between meeting one of them at an event or being crushed by a safe, which would you choose?, Be honest now.) Talking about yourself is guaranteed to bore people to death.  Your job at an event is to be interested, not interesting. Below is a simple process to help you do just that.

It is called a Conversation Stack, and it uses vivid visual pictures to help you remember discussion areas.  We remember pictures much better than words, which is why it works so well.  Once you learn the categories, the next time you are in a conversation, you will know the next question to ask.

Here is the visual for you to commit to memory:

You are walking down a street and see A Mail Box with a name on its front, standing on the lawn of a House.  You walk into the house and see a Family Portrait hanging on the wall.  Each person in the portrait has a Golf Club slung over their shoulder.   On the entry table below the picture is a pair of Work Gloves.  An Airplane is circling above the house, and each passenger on the plane is holding a Bunch of Flowers.

Here are some questions for you to ask in each category:

The Name Plate: Give your name and get theirs – be fanatical about pronunciation.

  • Hi, my name is Stuart, what’s yours?

The House: Ask questions about their home

  • Where are you from?

  • Where do you live?

  • How long have you lived there?

Family Portrait: Learn about their family

  • Do you have family living close by?

  • Tell me about your family?

  • Where did you meet your spouse?

  • How long have you been married?

  • How old are the kids?

  • What do they like to do?

Golf Clubs: Find out what they like to do when not working

  • What do you do for fun?

  • What did you do for fun last weekend?

  • What are your hobbies?

  • Who is your team?

Work Glove: Find out what they do professionally?

  • What do you do for a living?

  • Where do you work?

  • What do you like about it?

  • How long have you been doing that?

  • What do you like about it?

Airplane: Where do they like to go?

  • Do you travel for work?

  • Where do you travel to?

  • Where do you like to go on vacation

A Bunch of Flowers: A way to disengage

  • Thanks for sharing

  • It was great to meet you

The flowers help you end the conversation, politely and move on to your next networker.

To gain ninja like skills, use drill down questions.  Drill down questions help you listen; the idea is to take one word from one of their answers and form a new question.

Example: What did you do for fun last weekend?

I went camping

Where did you go camping?

The Stack along with Drill Down Questions are highly effective tools that will help you build rapport.

Good luck, please let me know how it helps you.

If you want to help your sales or customer service teams build better rapport and close more sales,  let’s have a chat and see if anything we do may be relevant to your business.

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