Early in my career, I struggled to find new clients. I wondered why some people seemed to always have a steady stream of new prospects. I wondered what they did that I didn’t do or what they knew that I didn’t know.
After studying some of the best salespeople I knew, I discovered they all had one thing in common. They all had the ability to connect with people on their first meeting. No matter how different the person might be from them, they were all able to walk away from a first meeting having made a connection that would lead to business later.
A study done at Princeton University by psychologist Alex Todorov and co-author Janine Willis found that people form judgments about trustworthiness, likability and competence within milliseconds of seeing someone’s face.
The good news is that there are a few simple steps to influence not only their first impression of you, but also to connect with them in a relatively short period of time after that first impression. The following are six quick and easy steps to connecting with anyone.
The simple act of smiling cues the brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. Smiling not only has the power to make you feel better, but also to make others feel better, too.
A study done by Uppsala University in Sweden found that facial expressions are unconsciously mimicked. This means that smiling at someone will cause him to unconsciously mimic your smile, which will cue his brain to release the feel good transmitters, making him feel better.
The best way to make a positive first impression is to smile.
2. Make eye contact
The eyes have long been said to be “the gateway to our soul.” According to Dr. Carol Kinsey Gorman, eye contact produces a powerful, subconscious sense of connection. The depth of the connection can be correlated to the amount of eye contact.
By looking into the person’s eyes, you are showing this person that you are interested in her. Don’t miss this important part of creating a connection.
3. Ask a question
Asking people a question accomplishes two goals. The first is that it gives the person answering the question the ability to talk about his favorite subject, himself. We are all innately built with a desire to talk about ourselves. By asking a question, we give him the ability to fulfill this desire.
Secondly, asking a question gives us the ability to listen and find common ground where we can connect. If he has children, we can ask how old his children are and connect through parenthood. Whatever it may be, find common ground and the connection will happen.
We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Ask questions and then listen.
4. Synchronize to build rapport
In his New York Times Bestseller, How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less, Nicholas Boothman says rapport can be built by design. Mirroring or synchronizing is done by modeling the person you wish to build rapport with.
“Those that are in rapport are synchronized almost like dancers: one picks up a cup, the other follows; one leans back, the other does the same; one talks softly, the other talks softly,” Boothman says.
Synchronizing or mirroring the traits of others will give you the ability to build rapport quickly.
Find something to compliment them on as soon as possible. This may be something as simple as the way they are dressed, the company they work for, or an answer to a question you ask. We all love to be complimented. When you compliment them, it brings down walls and opens them up to you.
6. Follow up
Initial meetings are great, but true relationships are built over time. Close out the initial meeting by giving them some reason that you will reach out to them. This could be as simple as saying, “It was great meeting you, and I would love to keep up with you. Do you have a card?”
Follow up with a hand-written thank you note or email them an article that you think they would like. Whatever it is, make sure you follow-up with them. Through follow-up, the biggest pain point or need for their business will be revealed. Once it is revealed, you will have built the rapport equity needed to offer the solution.
The future of your business depends on your ability to connect with others. Become a student of building rapport. Once you’ve mastered it, your business will have a steady stream of new clients that are ready, willing and able to do business with you.