5 Simple Tricks to Build Rapport

If you’re based in the UK, you’re probably aware of the phenomenon that is Love Island (if not: in a matter of weeks on national TV, attractive young people go from complete strangers to proclamations of undying love).

Twitter and memes aside, this got me thinking about how our social relationships are built in such a short space of time. How humans associate with each other and form bonds has been a focus of nearly all social sciences since their inception: from romantic to platonic, there are a myriad of behaviours which have been shown to increase cooperation.

But what does this look like in the workplace?

Building professional relationships at a networking event or new job is daunting for many, and it can be difficult to know what to do to develop this dynamic.

So, here are our 5 top tips to making a great first start!

  1. Names. It’s in bold for a reason – this is maybe one of the most simple, but effective, relationship builders, and really worth making the effort with! Remembering someone’s name (and using it when talking to them) shows that you’re interested in what they have to say and treat them as an individual. Now, the way you do this can be as bizarre as you like… your methods are known to you alone!
  2. Find common ground. So, you’ve remembered their name (nice). Finding a talking point is the real key to accelerating relationship building. Some good places to start are: their hobbies, interests, recent local events/news (keep it apolitical and appropriate), tv, specific employee groups (eg women’s networks, LGBT networks)… If you’re still unsure, don’t worry, we have a full article in the works on this!
  3. Remember that the other person should also want this to go well. It’s cliche but any professional interaction really is a two way thing. Most people you will meet at work will want you to feel at ease! If you’re desperately struggling to make conversation, you feel exceptionally awkward, uncomfortable and you’re not enjoying the experience, also have a think about if this is what you could see yourself doing and enjoying in future.
  4. If you’re in a new environment, chat to your peers! I wish I could say this twice. My assessment centres, interviews and internships over the past year have let me meet so many inspiring and interesting people. It’s great to build a student support network with like-minded peers, and I’ve often found these connections as even more beneficial than the professionals that I met on the day.
  5. Know that your “weaknesses” are only known to you. If you’re nervous about meeting new people and find first impressions difficult, just know that every person you meet is a clean slate. Relationship building is often a case of fake it ’til you make it, and the fact that you’re working on this is really impressive!

What helps you to break the ice with a new colleague?

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