As with any partnership, the sooner you build rapport, the better you'll feel about your prospects for success. These six entrepreneurs offer their best practices for what you should do to quickly form a relationship and reach a mutual understanding.
See what connections you have in common.
Finding out who you both know can be a great way to get a jumpstart on building rapport. Kim Kaupe, co-founder of custom publication company ZinePak, uses the power of common connections on social media to her advantage.
"Using LinkedIn or Facebook, it is easy to see if your newest client is also connected to your old college roommate, cousin or previous co-worker," she says. "Having an acquaintance in common instantly eases the tension."
Ask them about their daily work patterns.
Whether they're a morning person or a night owl, figuring out these work style idiosyncrasies will ensure your communications (and expectations for deliverables) are in sync. Kelsey Meyer, co-founder and president of content marketing agency Influence & Co., asks leading questions to get a better sense of her clients' work patterns.
"I like to ask someone who I'm going to be working closely with when they're most productive during the day," she says. "Are they most productive in the morning? Is there a time of day when their focus is usually compromised in any way? This helps me understand when it is best for me to communicate/collaborate with them and when it isn't. And it lets that person know I truly value their time."
Remember the little things.
Making mental notes of asides clients mention to you -- and recalling them down the road -- will demonstrate your genuine appreciation for their candor.
"If they mention how much they love baseball, I'll send them tickets to a game. Or if they said their child is sick, I'll follow up and ask how they're doing," says Douglas Baldasare, founder and CEO of cell phone charging provider ChargeItSpot. "Pay attention to what people reveal in casual conversation so you can surprise them with small (or big) gestures that go a long way."
Work alongside them.
If you're a manager, don't isolate yourself to a corner office in the back -- get out there and show your team what you're made of.
"As a senior manager, I have decided to make a conscious effort to work with new hires on a more regular basis," says Luigi Wewege, president and CEO of multinational financial group Vivier Group. "By working alongside them as colleagues, I have been able to not only improve the rapport I have with them, but also gain insight into the real working habits of my team."
Be proactive about building a relationship.
When it comes to building solid rapport, consider how much time and effort you're putting into the relationship and what it is you're giving to the person on the other side of the table. Leila Lewis, founder and CEO of wedding PR agency Be Inspired PR, recommends being as proactive in your communications as possible.
"People expect instant results [in PR], not always understanding that there's a ramp-up stage," she says. "Share with your client what you're working on, what leads you have and what feedback you've received. Consistently hearing from you settles nerves and builds trust."
Set the right expectations up front.
The best way to kick things off is to let the other person know what they can expect from you, and that you will be true to your word. Duran Inci, co-founder and COO of digital marketing and technology company Optimum7, puts this simply: "Mean what you say and say what you mean."
"Set the right expectations and meet them in a timely manner, he says. "If you can't for some reason, let your new client or colleague know ahead of time. First impressions are vital to building rapport with a new client or colleague, so make sure they're good."