Tips to Establish Authentic Business Rapport

The secret to building genuine business rapport with people is to understand them and make them feel valued and important. Satisfying these two basic desires seems simplistic, but this applies to business and the rest of your life, for that matter. The first time I heard it, I was sure there had to be more. I looked at the gurus of the sales industry and looked at all the different things they had to say about prospects. Everything I read could be boiled down to these two things: understanding and value.

Take Dale Carnegie, for instance. One of his significant tenets is “people need to feel important.” A person needs to be understood and valued to feel important. When searching the internet for the psychological importance of being understood, a multitude of articles accepts the importance of understanding. The Business Insider has an excellent blog on the book “How to ‘Win Friends and Influence People’ in the Digital Age”. The advice is excellent.

Businessman and businesswoman talking

Start building business rapport by understanding your audience

What does it mean to be “understood”? The definition of understood points you to the word understand. Understand means:

  •             To perceive the meaning of (words, a speaker, a language)
  •             To perceive the significance, explanation or cause of (something)
  •             Be sympathetically or knowledgeably aware of the character or nature of
  •             Interpret or view (something) in a particular way

Synonyms for understand include:

            Comprehend, grasp, take in, see, apprehend, follow, makes sense of, fathom,

            Appreciate, recognize, realize, acknowledge, know

What happens when we are understood? We feel valued. We feel relevant, validated and right. When we are validated, we feel recognized — as a consumer, in a business to business environment or a business to consumer environment; you expect the product or service to meet your needs. You feel confident about your purchase. You will probably come back again to see what else is available. You may even offer a review.

Build the business relationship by showing your client or customer that you value them

Value is a little different. Value means relative worth, merit or importance. In verb form, it means to consider worth, excellence, usefulness or importance. Both as a noun and a verb, the word importance is part of the definition.

Making a client or customer feel important is a large part of gaining their acceptance and returns us back to the two desires of pretty much everyone. Being regarded as a person of value (importance) while feeling understood gives a client the confidence to make the decision that is right for them. The truth is they may not always purchase, but they will remember you and your company.

How is this done? By asking questions and listening.  Listening plays an integral part in feeling understood and valued, which are the keys to building authentic business rapport. The most important question we can answer for anyone is: “What’s in it for them?” How do we gather this information? Questions about them. How can we help them? What do we need to do? We need to connect with people.

Caring about the people who are our clients and prospects, we create an authentic picture of ourselves. Being vulnerable allows others to be vulnerable, as well. This helps build trust. Trust allows our relationship with others to grow and show we care. With business rapport established, clients are more willing to purchase. They feel understood and valued. They accept that we know them and they know us. Trust is the key. Now we can move our conversation forward.

People buy emotionally and defend logically. We buy because of our feelings about the salesperson, the product or service.  Making someone feel valued and understood is a big emotional reason for them to buy from you. Emotions are a big part of why we buy one product over another. That said, if someone asks why we made the purchase, we are most likely to tell them about the exciting features of our investment, not the fact that blue is our favorite color.

Additional resources:

Robynne Davis


Robynne Davis is Executive Director at Xylina SPC, a woman owned, Washington Social Purpose Corporation with an emphasis on social justice and environmental responsibility. She also is the board Secretary for the Oregon Small Business Fair.

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