Webster defines rapport with several words: relation, connection, accord, harmony, and agreement.
Rapport is a subtle, yet significant, aspect of the selling process. Establishing rapport with a prospect at a networking event enhances your ability to appoint (and sell) in the ensuing follow-up process.
Follow these guidelines to maximize your productivity at (and after) a networking event…
If you already know the person orIf you don’t know the person.
When you engage a prospect, try to find out their personal interests. After the traditional exchange of business information, try to find out what the prospect does after work, or what’s he/she doing next weekend. You might even try out a couple of interest items if an event is near or just passed, like a ball game, car race, concert, play or business function.
After you have gotten to know a little about this person, you can now begin the, “lets get together later to finish this discussion” part that will solidify the all-important appointment.
You must be careful not to spend too much time on subjects of mutual interest. It’s tempting to spend 30 minutes talking about things you like. Don’t. Your opportunity to meet others awaits you. You can expand the conversation at a lunch next week. Move on to other prospects.
NOTE: Write furiously on the back of their business card. Be sure to include anything personal you spoke about, so you can begin the appointment where you left off at the networking event.
Give your 15-second commercial and then ask what he/she does. Don’t elaborate or try to sell until the other person has talked about themselves AND you have tried to establish mutual interest.
Ask an open ended question about:
- how they now use your type of product or service…?
- where are you presently getting,…?
- how are you using…?
- who are you buying from…?
- are you using…?
Questions that will engage the prospect, make him/her talk about themselves, make them begin to open up and reveal themselves, are the type you need to ask.
– As soon as they broach a personal issue, grab it and expand on it.
– If you have a business agenda, discuss it within 2 minutes.
– If he/she is talking to someone you don’t know, get introduced and see if there is a fit for you.
– If the known person is your customer, spend a couple of minutes building the personal relationship by trying to establish mutual interests.
– If you make a promise or commitment, get another card from the person and IMMEDIATELY write it down on the back.
– No matter what, after 5 minutes…MOVE ON.
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If you are able to establish rapport when networking, you will have a perfect conversation item when you follow-up to make an appointment.