You can’t do much in 90 seconds. You can’t make a cup of tea. You can’t 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.
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 with a recruiter is not top of their list of priorities. Doing their day job is.
So you want to make an impression quickly.
If you want that impression to be positive, start by not offering a wet, floppy kipper for a hand shake.
Then follow the advice below…
There’s three things someone will notice 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.
Tired or disinterested eyes, coupled with a slouch and a frown is not going to make anyone interested in what you say.
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 mate. Start talking and don’t break eye contact until you’re completely comfortable.
Then you’ll be ready to do it with people you don’t know so well. And then complete strangers.
Similarly, if you’re speaking 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 being liked.
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 minute stint.
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 look like us.
This tendency is 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.
With one exception… Those couples who purposely choose matching outfits. These people aren’t subconsciously matching, they’re very conscious of their choice. And should be steered clear of in social situations.
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.
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.
For the final push on becoming thoroughly likeable in the eyes of your counterpart, 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’re observant early on, you’ll be able to get an idea of which one of these three 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 built a solid rapport.
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 predominantly 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 your 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 making an unbreakable rapport with someone in under two minutes. After this, you’ll be able to build further on the first impression. But given how strong it’s likely to be, you’ll be in the best possible position to making every new encounter a winning one.
Principal Consultant - Finance at Marshall McAdam
Recruitment Consultant at Just IT Recruitment (JITR)
Senior Consultant - Drinks Sales at New Chapter Consulting
Consultant / Financial Services at Oakleaf Partnership