Building rapport right now might be more critical than ever. We’re coming out of the post-COVID “Run, run, run, I’m going to catch what I can and not nurture anybody” market. Building rapport, to me, is the process of creating a deeper relationship. 

That nurturing of a strong relationship will enable you to sharpen your capacity to influence others. And when you have strong rapport, you’re able to engage people on a human level where loyalty and connection can occur. 

Whether you want better relationships with clients, customers, or people you work with, learning how to build rapport is the first step to improving communication and trust. And there are a few ways to do that. 

We’re looking for mutual trust and mutual understanding—and that leads to deeper listening, meaningful conversations, and fulfilling relationships. 

Nurturing relationships is not, “Hey, how do I sell this person a house?” or “How do I get them to list with me?” When you take time to establish rapport, you open doors for other people to align themselves with you and your business mission. 

Here are some tactical ways you can immediately build rapport with people. It’s bananas to me how often people get the first one wrong. 

#1—Learn to pronounce someone’s name and address them correctly. 

One of the worst things you can do is mispronounce a customer’s name. And given some of the cultural differences that are out there, it’s all the more important to get this right. 

There are plenty of situations where I see someone’s name, and I have no idea how to pronounce it. Mistakes happen, and most people will be understanding, but it’s best to avoid the scenario whenever possible. 

In a situation where I’m not sure how to pronounce someone’s name or what form of their name they’re most comfortable with, I’ll typically say something like “Hey, I hate getting people’s names wrong. Can you tell me how to pronounce it?” or “What do you prefer to go by?” 

For example, my legal name is Thomas. Nobody calls me that. If you called me Thomas, I’d probably hang up the phone on you. 

So if you know you’re going to have a challenge with someone’s name, go ahead and just ask them how to pronounce it or what they prefer to be called. It’s really critical to get their name right and learn to pronounce it correctly. 

Put yourself in their place. If someone mispronounced your name and didn’t even ask how to pronounce it correctly—or they consistently mangled your name and didn’t seem to care how that affected you—you’re probably less likely to feel a connection with them. 

#2—Make time for introductions

Number two, break the ice by introducing yourself rather than walking into a meeting and saying, “All right, let’s talk about getting this home sold” or “Let’s talk about finding you a new property.” 

Take the time to shake someone’s hand with equal pressure, look them in the eye and say, “Hey, I’m [Your Name]. Pleasure to meet you. Thanks for your time today.” It’s going to benefit your interaction with a customer. 

Tell them who you are and show that you care about getting to know them. A simple introduction goes a long way. 

#3—Practice active listening

Three is actively listening and responding. I can’t tell you how many times agents just don’t listen to people. Salespeople don’t listen. 

I had a client call on Saturday, and I’m starting to rebuild the relationship. But the first thing the gentleman said was that he’d talked to someone else who no longer works with us. 

“Hey, that person didn’t listen to me. I told them I was months out from making a decision, and they started blowing up my email every day with properties to buy, and I didn’t even want to buy a home. I’m moving out of state.” 

That’s a great example of the wrong thing to do. You need to be actively listening to your client so you can respond off-script. What I said to this client was “Hey, great news. That person doesn’t work here anymore. And we’ve heard that feedback from other people, and I’m sorry you had to go through that.” 

When you are being honest, you’re not sounding robotic or apathetic; that’s never something you want to associate with customer service or support. Put the script away and actively listen to what the person is saying. And when they’re done speaking, respond in your own words like a human being. 

#4—When people get angry or frustrated, allow them to vent.

How many times have you dealt with a consumer who was angry about a previous experience that had nothing to do with you? 

Listen to what they have to say and find out what they didn’t like. Empathize with them: 

  • Hey, I’m sorry to hear you’re going through thator 
  • Geez, that’s a tough situation.” 

If it’s a long-winded rant, you might have the urge to cut them off. Don’t do it. Let them get it off their chest. Take a step back and let them vent. Then restate their problem in your own words. Mirror the customer. 

Be genuine about how you’re going to solve it, and then engage in a personal conversation. Use your intro, your icebreakers, or any detail that you both have in common.

#5—Find something you have in common

There are plenty of ways to connect with someone. Find some commonality that’s on a personal level: 

  • Hey, I grew up over here (right in their neighborhood)!” 
  • Oh, you’re in healthcare? My [wife/husband/partner] is a nurse.
  • Their kid is getting rowdy at the appointment? “Hey, don’t worry about it. I’ve got three kids. I’ve been there.” 

Those are just some examples. Let them do most of the talking and pay attention to what they’re saying. Chances are you’ll find something you can use to help you build more rapport. 

When you do that, and you’re showing them, “Hey, you’re a little like me,” you’ll be amazed at how your relationships improve in all phases of your business.