Networking is an essential part of life today online as well as off-line in the real world. Whether you are networking online or off-line you will still need to build rapport with people. Work colleagues, other small business owners, domestic and commercial neighbours, customers, business partners or associates, suppliers and delivery people. In fact, everywhere you turn and see another person, you need to build some sort of rapport with them even if it is just to acknowledge their presence.
It isn't hard to build rapport with people. The starting point is simply acknowledging that they exist, that you see them. It is very rude to ignore people. No-one likes to be ignored. So simply by smiling, nodding or saying a friendly hello, is how one starts to build a relationship with those around us.
If you start by simply saying hello, it doesn't take any time at all to progress to the next stage of o talking about where you both are, or commenting on something that is common to both of you. Starting a conversation is very easy once you remember that the other person could well be as uncertain or shy as yourself
If you employ staff, it does not give you the right to be rude to them and treat them disrespectfully. Building good rapport with your staff is one of the cheapest ways a business owner can protect their business from theft and bad word of mouth advertising. Disgruntled, disloyal staff can harm your business more than most business owners would care to admit.
The next easy step in building rapport with those around you is to simply start a conversation with them. First you say hello and then make a small comment even if it is just about the weather. Perhaps this is why so much attention is paid to the weather. It is a good innocuous way to start a conversation. Keep the comments light and cheery because no one wants to be weighed down with gloom because they made “the” mistake of talking with you. Don't depress people even if you have had the worst day of your life.
Building rapport is all about building a relationship with someone; nothing more and nothing less.
The Concise Oxford dictionary (1964) defines rapport:
n. Communication, Relationship, Connection
So if we follow the steps to building rapport with people, a method of doing so could well be by following the meaning of the word in starting with communication to build a relationship which will form into a connection. In a business environment these connections are what end up translating into a profitable business but most of all it will give yourself and all those around you, a comfortable environment in which to live and thrive.
These relationships make up a significant quality to our lives. With lots of speaking acquaintances with whom we can share our days, people seem to have a better quality and quantity of life. It has now been proven by numerous scientific studies that people who have friends live longer and healthier lives. Rapport builds relationships, relationships develop or not into friendships. Some friendships last us all our lives.
Knowing how Small Business Networking online and off-line can improve your bottom line keeps many small businesses in business today