5 Tips To Start Building A Strong New Business Relationship
To be an effective networker, the best thing to focus on is building relationships. When your only aim is to create trust and rapport, other benefits (such as new business referrals) will naturally follow.
A great place to start fostering a good relationship is to listen more than you talk. This doesn’t mean just staying quiet more than not, but really listening, being actively engaged in the conversation.
Keep these 5 tips in mind at your next networking event to start on the path to a strong new relationship.
Make eye contact
The easiest way to show someone you’re engaged is to keep eye contact with them as they speak, in a natural and relaxed way. This means no intense, unblinking stares!
This seems obvious, but we can sometimes wander off in our own heads, or become distracted by what’s happening in the room. Do your best to tune all that ‘noise’ out and stay focused on the person you’re in conversation with.
Aim to understand
It’s very common in a conversation to inadvertently rush the other person along so you can add your two cents. If you’re just waiting for an opportunity to jump in, though, you’re not being a good listener because you’re distracted by your own stories. Instead, try listening simply to understand, nothing more.
Reflect your understanding
While you don’t want to interrupt, be open to opportunities to reflect your understanding back to the person speaking. For example, when the speaker pauses, you can say “The sounds like a challenging situation,” or “You must have felt very excited!” Resist the urge to follow on with “It reminds me of the time I…” - remember point 3! A simple, “yes” or “mm-hmm” can also be very effective.
Keep an eye on non-verbal cues
While we can use our words to present a particular impression, it’s often hard to make our bodies lie for us, so pay attention to the other person’s body language. How they sit or stand will offer clues to how they are feeling - relaxed, open, nervous, uncomfortable. This article covers the basics and explores some specific scenarios as well.
If you employ these techniques effectively, they will demonstrate to the other person that you are genuinely interested in learning about them and their situation. Allowing them to feel heard and understood will help them to know, like, and trust you - and hopefully keep you in mind when that next referral opportunity comes up!