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The Flowing Point – a systematic approach to networking. First Create a rapport.

By Donna Messer

The Flowing Point is the beginning of a completely new way to build the rapport you need to find successful solutions. No longer is networking just a means to an end, it is a mutually beneficial process which adds value to each party. We have entered into a new era, and in order to survive and thrive within this new era, we must give and earn respect for our fellow man. Ethics, integrity and honesty are all pieces of this new puzzle. The Flowing Point is a place where when all of these pieces fit together, and you are satisfied that a trust has been established effective networking can begin.

Rapport as defined in the dictionary is “a relationship marked by harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity”

R espect others, listen carefully and take the time to learn about them. Relate to their cultural diversity, their interests, hobbies and volunteer activities, these are an important factor in building rapport. Remember whom you know. This might be a great connection for them, perhaps it's a colleague from the same country or a project you are working on through your volunteer organization. Build the bridges………friendship and relationships often happen when each side tries to find common interests.

A ppreciate the ways in which you are alike. Find the common denominators and build on them. People like people who are like themselves. They buy from them, sell to them and work with them on joint ventures and strategic alliances. Introduce yourself with information that you want to know about them. Begin your conversation with, “Hello, my name is Jason McLeod, I'm a mechanical engineer with Acme Business Systems.” Chances are, they will tell you what level of education or degree they have attained and where they are employed. The reply could be, Hello, my name is Phil Smith, I have an MBA from York University , and I'm working with a group of engineers on a project in South America . The rapport has begun, an affinity is developing – you have found a common denominator.

P rioritize your needs and the reasons you want to build the rapport between you and your potential client, customer, colleague or employer. Make sure your priority is beneficial to the other person as well. Harmony is part of rapport building, do you homework, find ways to offer insight and information that will be of importance to your colleague. By prioritizing – you are taking a targeted approach to building the rapport. Suggesting to your client, colleague or potential employer that you each have the same interest in a volunteer area, an environmental issue or an educational concern, will create an accord between you. Going from an opportunity to a solution requires a strategic plan, with the ability to recognize and utilize fully the steps needed to achieve your desired goal.

P ublicize your connection, and relate the results of your discussion to others in your network. Let them know that you have begun to build a rapport, to relate to each other and that a comfort level is developing. In this new era, rapport is based on ethics, integrity, trust and the common elements you are discovering in each other. As the rapport develops, not only are you creating a relationship that can benefit you and your new colleague, you are entering into the opportunity to refer that person to others within your network. By building rapport you offer a harmonious connection for others in your network that might have similar interests, concerns or issues. You are at the Flowing Point , building a new culture of integrity, where trust, ethics and honesty are synonymous.

O rganize your efforts, maximize your opportunities and find ways that you can create a win/win for both parties when moving towards a solution. In order to go from opportunity to solution, you need to make sure that the rapport created benefits both sides of the newly developing relationship. Think about what you bring to the meeting. Often it is advisable to go over your database in advance, to consider your contacts and rate them on their overall value for this occasion. Think laterally, it isn't just the contacts with whom you work, it is also your friends, relatives and associates that might have a common interest that should be included. Learn as much as you can in advance about a potential client, colleague, customer or potential employer, so that the connections you can provide will be valuable to both sides of the introduction.

R ecognize your resources, make a list of your key contacts and your special interests, come to any event prepared to share those resources once the rapport has been established. When building a rapport, often it is the fact that you ski, scuba or bike that creates the initial interest. Create a brief bio on yourself that includes your education, special interests, hobbies, associations and your career path – whom you know is as important as what you know in some cases. Recognize that some of the skills and talents your think unimportant are the most likely to create the rapport. Creating a FlowMap will help you maximize your overall talents.

T ake time to really get to know each other, make an effort to meet several times before making the decision to become a referral or to ask for the sale. Once you have established the initial rapport, begin the building of that relationship. Keep in touch and be sure to ask how best to connect with your new colleague. If it is by email - ask how you can make sure that your new colleague will recognize your message as legitimate and not another piece of junk email. One suggestion is to put an agreed upon topic in the subject line. Connecting to your new colleague by phone? Ask how you can get by the administrative assistant, the office gatekeeper who makes sure you are protected from all those unnecessary phone calls. Often the best way to do this is to ask for the name of the person who answers the phone. Using his/her name often denotes a trust and the call is put through. Establish a method of communication that can work comfortably for both of you….build the rapport so that each of you want to keep the relationship growing!

*FloWork is the process that provides the systematic approach needed to go from opportunity to solution. The Flowing Point is a book co-authored by Dr. John Paul Hatala and Donna Messer.


Donna Messer is Canada 's Networking Guru. The founder of ConnectUs Communications Canada, she is the best-selling author of Effective Networking Strategies, a key note speaker, and MiNet™ Speed Networking facilitator. She travels across Canada and throughout the world teaching effective networking skills. Contact Donna at

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