Rapport and permission

Lessons learned at a business event — that apply to all the conversations you get to have.

You know those meetings with facilitated networking?

Where you get to talk to someone you don’t know about your business?

I go to those. Heck. I run a women’s networking group of my own. The whole point of these events is to create connection, community, and support for each other in business.

Last time I failed miserably; instead of making a deep connection, I alienated someone. Nice. Another opportunity to connect kinda sorta blown.

must escape!Let me tell you just how badly I failed at making the deep and resonant connection I have in mind each time I plunk down $45 and block off many hours of my time. I want to meet other women in business, connect, build relationships, create collaboration, and offer my services to those who would be a good fit. In order to actually achieve those goals, creating rapport and getting permission to actually talk in a meaningful way are key.

Rapport and permission fail

Picture us, this nice EFT-practitioner and I, perfect strangers, meeting for ten minutes in a room full of other dyads doing the same thing. Highlights of my conversation failure (shortened and paraphrased so I can make my point and so we can all move on):

She: I help people overcome trauma through tapping.

I: Oh yes, I’ve done some of that.

She: It’s so important. Trauma. Old trauma. Lives in amygdala. Until tapped out, we will never transcend the past trauma.

I (and this is where the fail begins and just keeps growing and growing): Oh yeah, I recently noticed that my work is really beginning to change. Instead of working with my clients on the content of their pain and trauma, I work with them instead on noticing their attachment to their thinking and help them see their way to settling into a more easy state of mind, noticing how answers and insights are so much more available when they’re settled down. I have also come to notice how, since I started studying the 3 Principles, that…. (it doesn’t matter what else I said here, as her eyes had already begun to glaze over, which I luckily noticed and trailed off and finally stopped speaking).

She: Yes but trauma. Amygdala. Never escape the repeating pain unless…

I: Oh I see we’re almost out of time. I’m going to go pee.

She: Here take my card, let’s schedule a 1:1 or a sample session. (This is important to notice: I am not the only one in this conversation that wasn’t really present or listening, or committed to building rapport. Did you notice that? Took me a while; in fact I had to have it pointed out to me!)

I walk away noticing how zero connection was made and how I must have come off — maybe like someone who wasn’t listening? Or caring?


What I could have done better, and why it’s so damned important!

First rapport.

I forgot my rule! I forgot to be clear that networking events are about creating connection, deep and authentic. Rapport yo.

So when I was talking to this gal I oh so easily slid into pontificating and (urg I hate admitting this!) showing her up. Really, sister, let me tell you something that’s going to shake the foundations of your mission on this earth, and your work and your business. And let me tell it to you without checking in with you (rapport) or finding out if it’s okay to tell you about this (permission).

Damn the assignment at these events! I know what my assignment really is.

My assignment is to connect, to build rapport. To take a minute to look someone in the eye and find a way to connect. That’s it. Period.

If the connection happens, we can move on. If it does not, I can meet her where she’s at, and at least spare her the unbearable pleasure of hearing my pontificate about something she may or may not want to know a fucking thing about.

Because permission!

Once you have established rapport, you’ve taken the first steps to building that critical know-like-trust that is the point of all the marketing you do (and if know-like-trust isn’t in your vocabulary yet, or if you don’t know what it means then, sister, we should definitely talk!).

You probably feel when permission is present — and when it’s not — as viscerally as I do. There’s a palpable difference between having someone start telling you something and having them check in with you first before they start telling you that thing. If you can’t imagine, then try it. Or spend an hour in a used-car lot pretending you’re looking for a car. (Oy. I just maligned used-car salespeople. I’ll work on that.)

Permission is simple, and literal. Like this (after rapport is established; I’m just gonna keep saying this, to myself as much as to you!): “I have been finding that the 3 Principles understanding has really shaken up everything about how I do my business, get my clients, and run my life. Would you like to know more?”

Rapport and permission — important for your business and important for your life

  • Growing your business? Rapport helps you discern if a prospect is in fact a perfect client for you. How will you know until and unless you connect in a deep and meaningful way?
  • In life, rapport also helps you know unmistakably if the person you’re talking to is the kind of friend or ally to whom you want to reveal your passions and commitments.
  • In business and in life, asking permission helps you pave the way to make your point or make your offer or request.

In our times now, when so many of my friends, clients, and colleagues — and myself! — are being called into activism around racism and white privilege, rapport and permission are key.

When you’re invested in the outcome, it can be hard to relax into the importance of creating rapport and asking for permission.

I teach this shit and look at how badly I stumbled.

  • Remember that your purpose is grounded in love.
  • Sink into that love and connect, create rapport.
  • When you feel the strength of the connection, then ask for permission.

Once that permission is granted, share your offer, your brave and audacious idea, your desire. See what happens. Enjoy the difference. Lather, rinse, repeat.

You too — and I too! — can be authentic connection rockstars.

How does this land, dear one?

Hopefully useful, but I won’t know until you tell me. Let’s talk in the comments.

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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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  1. Sounds like a parallel conversation where each party picked up a word and started talking about their work instead of pausing to ‘listen’ to the other person and find a way to merge the 2 view points, Sue.

    I wouldn’t be hard on myself if I were you. Rapport building requires active participation from both sides. The nice EFT lady didn’t engage in permission either though I admire her for sticking to her script and getting her card into your hands. 🙂

    We learn as we go along. Happy Networking!

    • Vatsala, yes exactly. And thanks. You make me grin. I think my process of awareness goes something like: realize how badly I just handled something; ask mentors to look at with me, do the work around what I realized/learned, lighten up, accept my humanity, give myself a little compassion, and move on to the next opportunity to stumble. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I love being human!

  2. Hi Sue, This reminds me why where I live I go to very few networking events. Listening is so important. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood —from Covey. Yet I have been guilty of the same so don’t beat up on Sue. just tap it away 🙂 . Carol McCalls’s listening training was a gift for me, from a foray into Network marketing.

    I did go to an amazing meetup on Thursday and put down just $10 and that gave me a yummy turmeric latte. I know many of the people there, but there are always new people and the likes of the EFT lady probably go once and never come back. I made just one great connection with the speaker, interesting on using EFT — the title was Overcoming The Imposter Syndrome. love and hugs and give yourself an inner namaste xxoo

    • Suzie, I love that, to tap it away! Good one.

      I thought that “seek first to understand…” was the St. Francis prayer. Never read 7 Habits… so I didn’t know Covey used it too. Thanks for shining your light.

      Namaste to myself and to you, sister.

  3. Sue, I loved this blog. Seriously! It was so real, I was there with you watching her eyes glaze over and needing to use the bathroom, too. Networking groups are like dating groups, you need to know how to work them and that takes guidance and practice. But, you left us with some excellent guidance, so thank you so very much!

    • Hey Kathleen, thanks!

      I’m glad it was helpful. And guess what? This is so applicable to everything. Check out this update — I realized mid livestream that I owed my daughter an apology for downloading unsolicited advice to her without either establishing rapport or asking permission. A public headslap which I followed up with a phone apology to my kid. It was a huge transforming conversation for us both!

  4. Sue, you brought back memories of networking meetings and why I never went back to most of them. It was like an onslaught of marketers hitting you with their product or service. They were in the telling mode, not the listening mode. I was thinking today about returning to one group and if I do, I think I have to make a point of establishing rapport with some challenging people. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Joyce, I avoided those meetings for years. And now that moving to a new area prompted my foray into f-t-f networking, I am so glad it did! I’m connected, I’ve settled on five once-a-month groups (including the one I started) and it’s going so well.

      I get to practice my own deep listening, and make the connections that are available to be made.

      I love it!

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