Dave talks a lot about the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This book discusses the benefits of sales techniques in all areas of your life, not just work. The more that I outreach the more I relate it to when I worked in sales. Granted, it’s a lot easier to get denied through emails than it was to face-to-face, but the principles are still evident. I thought it would be interesting to look at the basic principle of establishing rapport and how it relates to outreaching and relationships in general.

Establishing Rapport

Rapport n. “a relationship marked by mutual understanding and trust”

A rapport is the foundation for all areas of relationships. Building trust is no easy task, especially because most people have reservations or barriers when meeting people. As an outreacher, my job is to introduce myself to several people every day and create working relationships with complete strangers. The ultimate goal is to generate a mutually beneficial environment, but that is hard to convey in one email.  So how can you develop rapport?

What’s My Name?

The most important sound or word to any person is their name.  When it comes to outreaching or generally meeting someone for the first time, you should actively take steps to use the most important word to that person.

Try it out: When you meet someone for the first time, use their names throughout the conversation and you will notice an increase in eye contact, smiling and responsiveness.

Knowing someone’s name is a subtle compliment and form of ego-baiting that will do wonders to your ability to build rapport. When outreaching through emails, I think it is important to mention the contact’s name several times throughout the email, occasionally even in the subject line. In order to do this in the initial pitch it requires some research, but the personalization will certainly do wonders for the response rate.

Me.. Me.. Me.. Me

We are naturally selfish creatures. Another great way to break down reservations and build rapport is to recognize that people are ego driven.  Whoever said flattery will get you nowhere must have never been complimented. When it comes to sales and relationships in general I’ve learned that a compliment can go a long way.

As a guy, the best way to make a girl smile or even talk to me for that matter is to start the conversation with some praise. This is very applicable to outreaching. A great approach to starting a relationship with an editor or blogger is to initiate the conversation by complimenting their site, a piece of content, or anything else that you find praiseworthy. Use these flattery rules when outreaching:

Be selfless:

Compliments by nature are supposed to be selfless acts, recognizing another person’s skills or achievements. Although your ultimate goal may be selfish, the compliment itself needs to remain genuine.

Be specific:

General compliments come off as shallow. Take the time to be unique and reward something that deserves praising.

Be accurate:

Compliments need to be for something you find worthy. If you do not think something is worthy of being praised, then find something else to compliment. More than likely they will know if you are complimenting something they deserve to have noticed.

All About the Questions

If there was one thing that I’m glad that I took away from my monotonous sales training, it would be the importance of asking questions. There is really an art about asking questions and its ability to influence people. “Thinking is not driven by answers but by questions

Questions are an excellent way to really get to know someone and build rapport. Use open ended questions rather than yes or no questions because it allows them to respond more fluidly and reveal information that cannot be expressed in short answers.

Another idea is to ask either-or questions. An example of this would be “Would you rather I send the article this week or next?”  as opposed to “Would  you like me to send the article?”  This is a subtle but very important trick. It does not lead the person to respond with “No.” Naturally we are generating a response that is favorable either way. If they say they’d prefer the article next week or this it is still a positive response.

Relationships are built on trust. Whether it’s working relationships or personal there is always power in knowing how to build rapport. Outreaching is founded in this concept and I have learned how to use various techniques to establish rapport with a variety of influential bloggers. Take the opportunity and try out some of the tips mentioned above to see just how powerful rapport is.