Build Rapport. Build Relationships.

By: Christine Hollinden

We all know the importance of relationships in professional services. In fact, building relationships is the foundation of most practices. When we talk about building relationships, we are really referring to the results of building trust and rapport. It’s not a “chicken or the egg” dilemma, rapport has to come first before building a positive relationship with a prospect or client. Rapport isn’t something that just happens nor is it all personality driven. It is built through a series of events between two people that forges a connection, a mutual understanding. How might this type of connection occur? The first step in building a relationship with a prospect or client is being prepared. 

I recently read an article by Chris Brogan who recalled a time when Jared Easley interviewed him for a podcast. Chris was wowed by Jared’s preparedness. He noted how Jared asked specific questions that demonstrated his knowledge of Chris and his background. Jared did his homework and obviously his preparedness made a huge impression. So, what are you doing to prepare for prospect meetings? Have you done your homework, or do you walk in solely focused on what you are going to say about your firm, hoping for success?

How can you be better prepared? Take time to do your homework and learning about the prospect. Areas to research include:

 Outside Interests
 Articles Published
 Presentations Given
 Career Path
 Professional Accomplishments
 Common Acquaintances

I don’t mean that you should go into the meeting and pull out a file on the guy. This is about taking a genuine interest in the other person and asking questions to build rapport. After all, relationships built on a foundation of sincerity and trust are lasting relationships. 

Before your next prospect meeting, do your homework, focus on building rapport, and keep it sincere .