5 Ways to Build Rapport with Your Clients

If you can’t build rapport with your clients and your team then they won’t trust you and your best ideas will never see the light of day. This episode explores 5 simple things you can do to build stronger leadership and partnership with your clients and within your team.

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Show Notes:

Sell trust and confidence

– Rapport really means two things – trust and confidence

– That allows us allows to take risks, to be the subject matter experts and continue to get the kinds of jobs that make the team happy. The way you act and the way your build rapport is all about building trust and confidence.

– The first way is by using the way you speak. Make sure that you speak slowly, smoothly and with a tone that conveys authority.

– It may sound like a little thing but think about when you meet someone who is nervous, jumpy or mumbles. You never perceive them as confident or in charge.

– Watch any great speaker and you will see that they speak slowly and with a self-assurance that gives their subject credibility and authority.

– Practice and record yourself talking.

Suspend your ego

– One key part of being a great leader is also part of being able to connect with people and listening is a lost art. Just listen to what someone has to say without correcting, interrupting or waiting to tell to your own story. People who constantly correct or interrupt others are perceived as insecure, needing to be right and one up everyone else. We all know none of these negative perceptions will help build a rapport with anyone.

– The most common reason is because they are unable to suspend their own ego long enough to put someone else’s wants, needs and perceptions ahead of their own. So next time you are sitting with a client practice ego suspension.

– Let your client talk, listen to what they have to say and then ask them to elaborate on their point instead of immediately trying to make a counterpoint. Most creatives are in such a rush to be right that they don’t take the time to understand how that makes their clients feel and what it does to the interpersonal dynamic. People who are able to suspend their ego and keep the focus on someone besides themselves are often thought to be the best conversationalists. Those type of people are the most sought after when important decisions need to be made because everyone knows they are fair, they listen and all of that leads to lasting rapport.

Control you time

– It isn’t as obvious as not interrupting or letting other people talk but there is one of the tricks that I use which is just as effective.

– Give people and conversations the time they deserve. So if I don’t have enough time I will say “I’m on my way to meeting but I before it starts I wanted to ask you…”.  This sets an expectation for the length of the conversation. So I can listen to them but them know I’m not leaving or rushing them because I’m being rude.

Control your body language

– I am 6’4″ so I may be more aware of this than most people but I’ve found that making sure that you understand how to align, control and use your words and body language is critical.

– Body language can have negative connotations. If I stand too close to someone and will tower over them. If I am slumped over or laying back in a chair in a meeting is says that I am not interested in what is going on.

– Think of ways to make this a positive interaction. When I meet new people my body language is relaxed, I smile a lot and use other non-verbal cues to look approachable. Something as simple as giving someone a high-five when I walk past them in the hall.

Ask for help

It is another small trick but I have found that for some people nothing builds rapport like asking them for help. I do it because we are all biologically conditioned to feel connected to someone who needs help because they are in a vulnerable position. I keep the requests for help small so they are something that can be done easily but the outcome is no less effective.

Mentioned in this episode


5 Ways to Build Rapport with Your Clients

Shortly after I graduated college I realized that my creativity, no matter how good it was, would only take mess far.  I knew to be successful I was going to have to be able to find ways of being able to sell my ideas to strangers. The problem was that I had no idea how to do get started and at the time I was terrified to speak in public. I started to hang out with venture capitalists, sports agents, lecturers or anyone who had to communicate and sell through talking. I started to study the techniques they used, all the little things they did to help build connections with people and manipulate them into seeing things their way. I even went so far as to start reading booking on the techniques used by police when they approach a suspicious person or the psychological and behavior techniques used FBI behavioral unit. All of this studying combined with years of experience pitching new business, working with clients and selling ideas has led me to understand that there are 5 things anyone can do to be better working and pitching new clients.  I teach these things to every senior member of my design studios and wanted to share them with everyone in the hopes that it might help.


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