Building rapport and influencing people is important across all industries. The art of building rapport is not as simple as smiling and making small talk. It is about creating a sense of understanding and mutual trust.
In event marketing, building rapport is especially challenging. Brand ambassadors do not have the luxury of developing a relationship over time. Event and street teams need to be capable of building rapport with event visitors in minutes. They need to connect with consumers and event attendees almost instantly in order for a marketing event to succeed.
[Tweet “Building rapport means creating a sense of understanding and mutual trust.”]
You Don’t Need Natural Talent To Build Rapport
We often believe that you’re either good with people or you’re not. It’s a common misconception that the ability to socialize and connect with others is genetic. The good news is you don’t need to be a “natural” at building rapport.
The best way to identify how you can build a positive relationship with people is to think of a situation in which you were able to develop good rapport with an individual. Do this short exercise:
- Think of someone who has a good relationship with you. How do you react to each other? What are the words you use? How are you sure that both of you share a sense of connection?
- Now, think of an acquaintance or colleague that you aren’t particularly close with. How is your reaction to them different? What prevents you from establishing a connection?
Instinct says that the people with whom we have rapport are “naturally” easy to get along with. On the other hand, those we don’t get along with are just “difficult”. To build rapport, tap into your experiences with people you have good relationships with.
But that’s only the beginning. Learn these key principles in to be an expert at building rapport. Then, pass them along to your event staff!
How To Be An Expert At Building Rapport
Learn the language.
Different people have different languages. This does not only apply to literal ways of communication. Sometimes two people can speak the same words but don’t communicate effectively. A wedding expo attendee speaks a different language than an executive at a business meeting. It is important to choose your words carefully, and use language that fits the way the other person thinks.
According to the Harvard Business Review, remaining sensitive is one of the keys to gaining respect. They even recommend it for building rapport across cultures. It pays to not come on too strong. Approach the other person with a genuine interest, instead of coming with an agenda.
When you treat others in a specific way, they want to treat you in the same way. Make sure that you approach people with an intent to provide them with value, so that they are inclined to do the same. Another way of practicing reciprocity is by focusing on the other person’s needs. This is especially true in brand activation events. Since the focus is already on your business, it becomes too easy to make everything about you. Shifting the spotlight to what the other party needs will trigger them to reciprocate.
Be mindful in asking questions.
Avoid making the other person feel threatened. Immediately asking probing questions in an direct manner will make you seem pushy. You only make it worse when you ask leading questions. Instead, ask open-ended ones and make sure to listen with intent to what they have to say.
Shy people may seem difficult to connect with, but Inc.com suggests a good technique. Share something about yourself to open them up. One of the tenets of rapport-building is establishing common ground. Just make sure not to focus the discussion entirely on yourself.
Don’t be a fast talker.
Keeping a comfortable pace is important in any conversation, and even more so when you’re seeking the other person’s trust. Talking with too much energy can make you seem insincere and attention-seeking. Speak with a slower pace and make sure to give the person you are engaging with time to respond. Building rapport doesn’t mean you need to be best buddies in a snap. Watch for cues from the other person. Check whether they are comfortable with the current topic before diving deeper.
Know your business.
The reason you are at this event is to represent your business or company. Thus, you must be adept at doing so. It doesn’t matter what level of rapport you build. It will be useless unless you are able to connect your company’s services to the other party’s needs. Your competency should not be limited to your company’s offerings. You should be fluent in addressing a potential customer’s needs in a way that is most beneficial for both of you.
Match communication styles.
This plays along with all the techniques we have discussed. Always match the way you speak and act with the way the other person communicates. If a person asks direct-to-the-point questions, they are looking for straight answers. If they like small talk, indulge them. If they like facts and figures, you should be ready with charts and graphs.
People are good at figuring out those who are fake. This is especially true in business and marketing events. Make every smile and laugh a sincere gesture, and it will be much easier to connect with people.
To be successful in applying any of these tips, one needs to tap in to two of the most important ingredients of rapport. These are intuition and observation. Build your intuition by challenging yourself to engage with people with different mindsets. Then encourage your event staff to do the same!
Armed with these tips, better intuition and good observation skills, you and your team will soon be experts at building rapport.
Do you need to boost the performance of your internal or event team? We would love to help! Click below for a free event staffing assessment and speak to a member of our client services team.