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Beyond the Friendly Smile: Advanced Rapport-Building Skills

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Warm handshake? Check.

Appropriate eye contact? Yep.

Friendly smile? Affirmative.

You have rapport-building basics down cold. Now what?

Building rapport is essential to customer loyalty. But beyond the fundamentals, what more should you do to help staffing clients relax, trust you and feel better about working with your agency?

Take relationship building to the next level.

Here are five simple ways to establish rapport and build stronger staffing relationships:

  1. Get customers talking about themselves. People feel comfortable talking about themselves – because it’s a topic they know better than anyone else. Showing genuine interest in something a customer cares about makes you more likeable and helps put them at ease. During the course of your conversations, ask clients about their interests and hobbies – but be careful not to pry or broach topics that are too personal.
  2. Ask about their projects. If you meet an employer at their office or facility, strike up a conversation about what they’re working on. Like the first tip, asking about a customer’s work gets them talking about themselves, while allowing you to begin to understand their hiring or workforce needs.
  3. Remember all the little things. Staffing relationships are about people. Taking the time and effort to recognize a client’s birthday or send a handwritten thank you note after an introductory meeting humanizes interactions – and make a huge impact.
  4. Ask for suggestions. People have opinions, and they like being considered an expert. Just make sure you’re asking for the right kind of input. Asking for recommendations for a place to grab lunch in your client’s town? Good. Asking a new client how they think you should recruit for their job opening? You know the answer.
  5. Share something about yourself. Sometimes it’s best to break the ice by talking very briefly about yourself – and then quickly volleying back to your customer, to get them to open up about themselves. Again, the key is to shift the focus to your customer, so you can pick up clues about what’s important to them.

Looking for more tips to strengthen staffing relationships?

In this earlier post, I share these additional rapport-building ideas:

  • Share information freely. Transparency is essential to a healthy working relationship.
  • Don’t get complacent. The extra effort that helped you win a customer’s business in the first place remains essential throughout the life of your relationship.
  • Ask the tough questions. Check in regularly with your clients to: uncover areas where you’re falling short; find out what you could improve; learn about new opportunities for business.

Building and maintaining rapport with clients takes a lot of work. But it’s extremely important! If you give customers the attention, service and respect they deserve, you’ll pave the way for long-term, healthy business relationships.

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