How to Build Rapport in Seconds

You can’t do much in 90 seconds. You can’t make a cup of tea, listen to a song, nor despite your insistence to the contrary, properly read a CV. There’s almost nothing you can do in 90 seconds to impact your career.

But, with the help of some high level Neuro Linguistic Programming, you could build rapport with a new contact.

Even someone you’ve just met, at say a business meeting.

In this scenario, building an instant rapport is crucial. Because, no matter what anyone says, meeting a recruiter is not top of their list of priorities. Doing their day job is. And then probably another 27 things after that.

You need to make an impression quickly.

If you want that impression to be positive, start by not offering a wet, limp fish for a hand shake.

Then follow the advice below…

Be open

There are three things someone notices about you before you speak.

Your eyes, your body language and the expression on your face.

If these three things don’t seem open and ready to connect you’ll struggle to make a connection.

Disinterested eyes, coupled with a slouch and a frown will turn off 99% of people.

Look into someone’s eyes when you speak to them. This is something you can practice with someone you already know well. You’ll feel less intimidated with a friend. Start talking and don’t break eye contact until you’re completely comfortable.

Although don’t stay too long, as increased eye contact for lengthy periods is proven to increase your chances of falling in love. 

After practice you’ll be ready to do it with people you don’t know.

If you’re speaking in person with a client or candidate, aiming your body directly in their direction will show openness and the desire to connect.

Finally, make sure you smile.

It’s been said many times before, but you smile with your eyes above anything else. So, in maintaining eye contact, your recipient will be fully aware you’re happy and welcoming of the conversation. By this point, all within the opening seconds, you’re well on your way to building rapport.

And it’ll feel effortless.

Want to drive it home? Go for the lean.

Not overtly obviously.

And not in any way you could be accused of invading their personal space or ending up on the news.

Just enough to show intent and interest.

The key to earning credibility in an interaction involves consistency in vocal, verbal and visual conversation. This has been proven in countless studies and goes to show if your body language mirrors your verbal language you’re on the right path.

You’ll know this to be true yourself.

Like when someone says “I’m fine” through teary eyes, folded arms, staring at the ground as they storm begrudgingly to the toilet for another 45 minutes.

Mirror imaging

Once you’ve established the early stages of rapport building, the next stage is confounding the initial impression. This is made easier by mirror imaging.

The number one strategy in getting someone to like you is to match them.

When it comes to hiring and even dating, we tend to gravitate towards those who are like us.

This tendency’s natural and starts the day we’re born. You synchronise your body to your mother and it continues from then on. Have you ever noticed that people often mirror their partners? Even their expressions seem in sync. They have the same weird laugh.

This is the materialisation of subconscious mirror imaging.

With one exception… couples who wear matching outfits. These people aren’t subconsciously matching, they’re very conscious and should be shunned at all costs. 

Matching Coats

Open with (open) questions

Imagine you’re in front of someone who’s starting to warm to you, and so far you’ve done very little.

You’ve sat down. Smiled. Leant in. Mirrored their body language. Now it’s time to start actually talking.

Being a recruiter you’ll know the benefit of open questions already. Open questions start conversations. Closed questions finish them.

But that’s only half the goal here. To truly get your audience to buy into you and like you, you need to listen.

This is where the first part of this article comes round again. Listening to your counterpart with your body is arguably as crucial as using your ears.

Repeating a question shows affirmation, but also nodding, maintaining eye contact and leaning in slightly is a solid way to drive home the positive impression you set initially.

Sight, sound, feel

For the final push on building solid rapport Neuro-Linguistic Programming offers some high level intuition.

‘NLP’ explains the three senses with which people constantly engage with others.

Visual, auditory and kinaesthetic.

If you can find out which your counterpart uses most, you’ll unlock another level in the rapport-building game.

Try to be observant early on and you’ll get an idea of which one you’re best off using. While there’s nothing wrong with not realising how to frame your conversation, if you can do it, you’ll leave the room having levelled up.

A mixture of all three senses is typical, but there’s always a weighting on a particular one.

First are visual people. Those who favour visual will use terms like “I see” or “Where do you see yourself in 3 years?” They pay attention to how things look and think in pictures.

Auditory people are those who like a chat. They often have melodic voices and will talk loudly. They pay more attention to sounds and words, rather than how things look. They’ll use phrases like “Sounds interesting” or “I’m all ears.”

And finally, are those who are kinaesthetic. These people will think about how things feel. They’ll tend to have lower, calmer and slower voices, a penchant for textured clothing (apparently) and use phrases like “I’ll get in touch” or “It feels like they might be a good fit here.”

To maximise your chances of building an unbreakable rapport, you’ll need to mirror interaction with your partner by playing to their favourite NLP sense.

How do you know which one it is? There’s a clever trick you can use and it’s all about their eyes. 

Asking them about a recent trip works nicely.

In their response a visual person will look up and right or left, like they’re searching for the answer. An auditory person will will look right or left towards their ears and a kinaesthetic person will look down to one of their sides.

Once you know and practice this trick, watch how quickly you can match their attitude.

And this is the final stage to creating an unbreakable rapport with someone in seconds.

After this you’ll be building on a killer impression.  Now all you have to do is continue the relationship