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Build rapport to increase influence

Build rapport to increase influence

Build rapport to increase influence

Learn how to build rapport to increase influence. Having undertaken hundreds of hours of research and deciphered and decoded hundreds of influence-based experiments – building rapport is one of the most powerful ways to increase influence.

Whilst there are many different ways to build rapport with people I hold masterclasses on the topic, I have distilled them down to the top 5 techniques to build rapport and increase influence.

Think about all of the times you have conducted any business with anybody. Invariably, we have done so mainly because we either know them, certainly like them and in every instance, trust them. We know that if there is a lack of trust in the relationship we are ‘likely to be ripped off. As a result, establishing trust with a prospective client is a crucial part of building rapport to leverage any form of influence. Even after the sales process has ended, there still should be a focus on client retention. If at the end of the negotiation, the trust is lost if they have felt deceived or cheated then the loyalty of that customer and their colleagues will evaporate. 

Building high-quality levels of rapport don’t start and finish with taking a prospective client out to dinner or discussing the latest football results. Here are the top 5 secrets to building rapport to nurture a relationship that allows you to influence more effectively in the future.


Smile to build rapport to increase influence. No matter how bad your day is, smile. It brightens up both your life in that your psychology is intimately linked your physiology but equally it brightens up the lives of those around you. In fact, every time others around you smile, make every effort to smile back with the same depth. (Not just a nod or wry smile) This reciprocation of a smile is often referred to as mirroring.

Mirroring occurs in social situations or with friends and family and is most noticeable when they smile you smile back. You can also observe this when someone yawns. Involuntarily, you find yourself yawning too. You may also find yourself sitting or standing in the same pose or position as somebody, and again this builds connections much more rapidly. Emotions are extremely powerful and even contagious, and a smile can pass from one person to another and soon, can have the whole room smiling. This process has evolved to promote group empathy and cohesion and to give charismatic presenters the edge in situations of influence.


Actively listen and connect on hooks to build rapport to increase influence. In any form of relationship, those who are expert rapport builders don’t just listen but actively listen. Actively listening is engaging wholeheartedly in what the other person is saying and asking calibrated questions to elicit an emotional response. (More about that in another micro-masterclass). Engage with what they are saying and sharing. You can build even deeper levels of rapport by connecting on ‘hooks’.

‘Hooks’ is a term given to something that they offer up to allow you to extend the conversation further without starting a new topic. The way to feed off of a hook is to authentically relate to something they share (if you can and it is in your field of experience of knowledge) and only then ask another question to elicit another hook. 

If you look at people who are skilled in building rapport or even the best of friends, they often have multiple threads of stories going at the same time which they don’t quite finish but return to later. I know when I am in rapport with someone close I can have several different threads going at the same time as opposed to just the one which draws to a close when that finishes and another one starts.



Remain authentic and have a genuine interest in the other person to build rapport to increase influence. I mentioned it before – authenticity is one of the core elements of any form of rapport building in order to leverage influence. Listening actively and having a genuine interest in the other person go arm in arm. If you try and deceive or ‘trick’ the other person into liking you, this will become apparent and any credibility and trust you had built up in advance will be lost.

I talk more about the importance of authenticity in any form of negotiation in my Effective Influence Model that I present in my keynotes and workshops. I’m sure if you have ever entered into the initial stages of a business negotiation with a person who is insincere or clearly has their own interests at heart you have turn to an alternative, even if it meant paying a higher price or compromising on something else as part of the negotiation.


Demonstrate value and personality to build rapport to increase influence. Whenever you talk to an established client you are looking to re-engage your services with or a prospective client it is essential that you show them how you can add value to them or their company or team. If you add value to them, this makes them like the way that they feel around you much more. 

Value from a personality perspective can be something as simple as humour or being fun to be around. We all want to spend time with someone who despite the professionalism and sometimes stiffness of the office is fun and enjoyable to spend time with. Other ways to demonstrate value and your personality is through leading their imagination or creating a personal connection to reinforce their beliefs and self-confidence. However none of this is relevant unless you can demonstrate your sincerity, authenticity and in many ways your confidence in your product or service and commitment to help them wherever possible.


Talk with passion and positivity to build rapport to increase influence. Talking with passion and positivity draws people in. If you accompany this with emotive, visual and expressive language people will be drawn into your world and feel excited and passionate about what you are talking about too. When someone feels good, they want to talk to you more, and invest more time in you and what you have to say.

Even if you don’t see yourself working or collaborating with this person or company right now, you may well do in the future. Remember there is something fascinating about every single person on this planet so if you concentrate on finding it you’ll be a much happier person and more likely to connect on a deeper level.

To learn more about building rapport with current and prospective clients, contact Duncan to see how he can tailor one of his masterclasses or keynote speech for your event.

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