Build Instant Rapport

What exactly is a referral machine business and how do you know when you’ve got one?

To start with, all referral machine businesses are built upon a foundation of relationships; relationships with clients, relationships amongst the people in the business, and relationships between the business and its community.

Referral machine businesses make it a top priority to build and nurture enduring relationships at the very core of the business. It starts with the very first meeting because as the old adage goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression.

Businesses that are relationships-centred seek to build meaningful interactions with their clients from the first handshake by developing an instant rapport. At the heart of rapport is genuine interest in the other person as a human being rather than as a client with a dollar figure attached.  So it starts with a warm smile and engaging eye contact.

During the first conversation, listen, don’t speak, and allow your natural curiosity in this person’s unique story to guide the dialogue. You have much more to learn at this stage than you do to tell, so let go of any agenda that you might normally have tried to push through.  Along the way repeat what you’ve heard, nod, approve and intentionally match the body language, facial expressions and volume the client uses.

Is there something this person could teach you or help you with in this moment? Why not ask? What have you learned during this conversation that you can apply to your own life?  Sharing those insights and asking questions will help your client feel increasingly comfortable sharing with you and will provide them with the validation that every human craves from others.

The art of building instant rapport with someone new flourishes through a genuine desire to understand that person as a human being and develop a mutual connection.  Lots of businesses act politely and feign interest in people in order to win new clients, but only the ones that continuously strive to build and nurture meaningful connections with people have a hope of turning their businesses into referral machines.

So once the first impressions have been locked in and the new relationship is off to a flying start, what comes next? How do referral machine businesses nurture and invest in their key relationships so that they are allowed to evolve under their own right rather than through pressure and coercion? Are some relationships treated differently to others? Which kinds of relationships do we want to avoid? And when is it OK to start “selling”?

The next post in the series will explore these questions and more en route to understanding how referral machine businesses build enduring relationships.