How to Build Rapport before Handing Out Business Cards

sma-business-card-blogYou wouldn’t think handing out business cards for your practice would be such a big deal. Okay, being honest — I wouldn’t think it would be such a big deal. But I had a moment a couple weeks ago that forcibly reminded me. So, yay! You get to benefit from my professional faux pas. There are three things everyone does — either intuitively or consciously — as they move toward a business-card-handing-out situation: Being mentally ready, being physically ready, and establishing rapport. We’ve already covered the mental and physical readiness stuff in last week’s post. But the third — establishing rapport — is a biggie. And, to be honest, I’m not sure I can do it justice. It’s the Centipede’s Dilemma for me as I try to write clearly about rapport. So hang with me here.

Rapport Is… ?

It means “relationship.” The longer definition to me has always been, “I think I know where you’re coming from. Can you see where I’m coming from?” because rapport is all about building a connection. It is potentially a brief connection. It may not be a fulfilling connection. But when there is rapport, it is an honest connection. Giving your business card to someone is part of that connection; it is a physical reminder of you.

How Do I Get There?

Practice. Not inspiring, I know. But there is no magic phrase or gesture. If you pay attention to what you are doing and how people are reacting to you, then you will learn faster and better.

How Do I Start?

Know what? Building rapport is already part of your practice. Yes. It is. And I bet you’re good at it. I read somewhere that communication is at least 50% non-verbal. What do you do when a client under your hands squirms their shoulder while you’re working on them? You respond to them. You adjust to them. The two of you go on together. What do you do when a client comes in your office all worked up and flustered? You respond. You bring them to a space you can share. That’s building rapport. And I would wager every time you meet up with a someone you know well, you adjust your physical and mental self to respond to their mood. Pay attention next time. In fact pay attention and take notes (mental or otherwise) on what you do to “match and mirror” a friend’s mood next time you meet. Keep these notes in mind for when you are ready to hand out cards.

Now What?

I know this is creepy for some people. In order to feel more confident about the whole thing: ACT confident, LOOK confident. People respond positively to confidence. If you want people to be more open, you need to show you are open: Stand up straight, uncross your arms, “lighten” your face and eyes. (For those of you with rejection issues, try it. I think you’ll be happily surprised.)

Say Something

Once you’ve greeted someone or made eye contact, talk with them. Not to them. Not at them. With. Your best bet is to invite them to offer a thought:

“What do you think about the new snow-clearing plan?”

“So have you finished your Christmas shopping?”

“Gosh, those are cozy looking boots. How do you like them?”

See how all these questions involve something more than a yes-no answer? As they answer, listen. Look like you’re listening. Act like you’re listening.

Say What?

After you’ve been in communication for a while, you’ll have learned something about your subject. You’ll have learned whether they are possibly an Ideal Client. You’ll have learned whether there is anything you can offer them or anyone in their family. If there is something you can offer, give them your card. Say:

“If you have people on your list who already have everything, check out my site and see if a gift certificate for [massage] might be a good experience. It’s guilt free!”

“When you feel the Winter Blues creeping up, give me a call. I do this great work with [warm stones that warms you right down to your bones. You’ll like it; you’ll feel day-at-the-beach warm.]”

“You know, if you’re legs are giving you issues, I can help you. Give me a call and we’ll set up a day right after all your holiday parties so YOU can recover.”

So.

That’s what I’ve got. If you search “building rapport” you will find a gaboonz of online articles about “how to.” I don’t feel the need to repeat what others have flooded the ether with. But I do feel the need to remind you that you already build rapport as part of your professional work. Now you just need to practice building it when your subject is upright and clothed. Practice, practice, practice.