“I love meeting new people;
I think everyone has a story to tell.
We should all listen sometimes.” - Kim Smith
Many years ago, I went to junior school with a guy called Simon.
Simon was the kind of guy you always knew would do well in life. He was the kind of guy that captained every sports team we played in, had every girl in school chasing him, and was friends with just about every kid in the school. His blonde curly locks, tanned skin and Hollywood looks also didn’t do him any harm either.
Whenever he had a birthday party, his poor parents ended up catering for about 150 kids because he was so popular. He was a really great guy, and even at the tender age of 12, he knew how to build rapport with almost anyone, and as a result, he had charisma oozing out of him.
Sadly, when we turned 13, Simon was bundled off to a more prestigious senior school. His parents earned good money and rightly so, they figured they owed it to Simon to give him the best education they could afford. Unfortunately as a result, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Simon during our senior school years, but I kept track of his achievements from afar.
His natural ability to build rapport meant that he went on to captain and lead almost every sports team he played in throughout senior school, and was made the head-boy of the school in his final year. More of a born leader, I had yet to meet.
Fast forward 15 years and Simon is now the director of a prestigious advertising company. The scary, yet not surprising, thing is that he’s been a director since he was 27 years old. Talk about an overachiever.
Simon is clearly an example of the power of charisma, and the power of knowing how to build rapport and connect with people.
Throughout his life, he’s had that special magnetic quality that only the gift of the gab seem to possess.
About 12 years ago when we were in our early 20’s, I bumped into a friend who had been at school with Simon and I. As we shared a couple of beers, the conversation moved on to Simon, and how well he was doing in life.
This was before I really knew anything about charisma, and certainly before I knew that it was just a skill that anyone could learn and master. I made the comment that Simon was just one of those guys who got lucky and was born with the gift of the gab.
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Simon Know How to Build Rapport Like a Pro
My friend disagreed and went on to share an interesting story with me.
A year or two before, he had bumped into Simon on a night out. They had both been in the same town on holiday, and neither of them had ever been there before.
As they were chatting and catching up, my friend noticed how many people seemed to walk past and acknowledge Simon. It was almost as if he was one of the locals and had been going there for years. At one point someone even came over with a drink for Simon, and said “Here we go buddy”, before moving on with his friends.
When my friend asked Simon how he knew so many people, considering he had only been in town for a couple of days, Simon went on to share one of the biggest secrets to his success.
He explained that whenever he is in a social situation, be it a nightclub, a bar, a birthday party, or at a BBQ, he always makes an effort to introduce himself to as many people as he can.
He went on to explain that he didn’t do anything fancy, but whether it was a guy or a girl, all he did was walk over flashing a great big smile and say “I’m sorry we haven’t met yet, I’m Simon”, and stick out his hand to shake. After introducing himself and shaking hands, he would then spend a couple of minutes chatting to his new friend. He’d ask them who else they knew at the party, where they were from, and what they did for a living. Basically he just made general small-talk, nothing fancy as Simon claimed, although he unconsciously using several of the rules that are found in The Charisma Rules.
So why was this such a powerful and effective weapon? The reason why this worked so well for Simon was that it made him stand out from the crowd and allowed him to build rapport with everyone he met.
It’s not often that you get someone simply walking up to you to say “Hi”, and have a chat. Simon was sure to say very little about himself, and ask all the questions, which encouraged the person to talk about themselves. As we know, people love nothing more than talking about themselves, and this alone is a great way to build a rapport with almost anyone.
Simon stood out from the pack. He was something different to most of the people he met. He didn’t have a hidden agenda or ulterior motive. If he was chatting to a girl, he made sure not to hit on her, or flirt with her too much. All he wanted to do was say “Hi”.
After about 2 minutes of chatting he would tell the person “It was great to meet you”, and he’d politely let them know that he needed to get back to his friends and would then move on. If anyone looked over at Simon a few minutes later they’d see him standing around, laughing and joking with another group of people.
Building Rapport is a Simple Skill
What my friend found really amazing was that for the rest of the night, Simon was treated like a celebrity. People would pop round to chat to him, and wherever he went, girls had their eyes on him.
This simple act made Simon memorable. It takes confidence to walk up to someone and introduce yourself, yet ironically it’s not that hard to do once you’ve done it a few times.
Simon knew a secret that most people don’t. He knew that most people, whether they admit it or not, are a little anxious when placed in a social situation with lots of strangers. He knew that usually when this happens, people tend to stick to the people they know and end up spending most of their time talking to them, instead of branching out and meeting new people.
This is not because they don’t like interacting with new people, or because they don’t have anything to say. It’s because most people are too shy to initiate conversation with someone they don’t know.
Simon went to the trouble of breaking the ice for them though, and once he had done that, the conversation flowed naturally. When it was time for Simon to move on, the people he had chatted to felt really great because they had just spent the last 2 minutes talking about themselves, and they had actually met someone new.
Suddenly they had new found social confidence, and all social awkwardness and anxiety had been swept aside by Simon’s friendly introduction.
I have no doubt that his ability to build rapport with almost anyone, catapulted Simon all the way to being the Director of a company at the tender age of 27. Wherever he goes he makes friends and people remember him.
So What Can You Learn From My Friend Simon?
Simon stands out from the crowd wherever he goes. In short, he oozes charisma. Let me assure you though that Simon’s charisma is no accident.
The key point in this story is that he MAKES an effort to talk to as many people as he can when he’s in a social situation. He goes out of his way to interact with them, and introduce himself.
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Charisma Exercise #10
Your next exercise is to take a leaf out of Simon’s book and get comfortable talking to as many people as you can when you’re in a social situation. For many of you, this may sound daunting or even cause your palms to start sweating, but don’t worry. This is supposed to be an enjoyable exercise and it will help you grow into a far more charismatic person instantly.
Simon talks to as many people as he can whether he’s in a nightclub, at a bar or at a football game. You might be sitting there thinking “But I’m not as outgoing as Simon though”, and that’s alright. If the thought of going out to a bar or nightclub intimidates you, then don’t go. Or if you are happy to go to a nightclub but don’t feel comfortable introducing yourself to strangers, then don’t!
Dial it down a notch and pick a scenario that you’re comfortable with. When I started working on this exercise myself a couple of years ago, I first put it into practice at a child’s christening. After the church service, we all gathered at the host’s house for tea and biscuits. With this exercise fresh in my mind, I was determined to engage and talk with as many people as I could. I knew about 5 or 6 of the 50 people there, so naturally I started off standing with them in a circle mingling and making small talk as we drank our tea. Gradually as the morning passed, I made the effort to introduce myself to people as they came into contact.
I mentioned earlier that most people feel an element of anxiety when interacting with strangers in a social situation, and very few are comfortable introducing themselves. Instead, it’s far easier to remain silent and keep talking to the people you already know. Have you ever been guilty of this? I know I certainly was in the past.
This doesn’t have to be the case though. All you need to do is casually say the words “I’m sorry, I haven’t met you yet, my name is…"
This line has served me as an introduction to literally thousands of people over the last couple of years and it’s been a huge part in building my charisma levels.
The key is to make it natural. When Simon was introducing himself to people in that nightclub, he didn’t move from one person to the next like he was the Queen meeting a crowd of supporters. He kept it natural. Once he had finished chatting to a group, he would politely mention that he needed to get back to his friends and he would wander off back to them. Then a few minutes later he’d head over to another group of people he hadn’t met, drink in hand, and start chatting to them casually.
Next time you’re in a social situation, make a real effort to chat to as many people as you can. Think of it as a game called “Meet The Room”. Think of yourself as the most charismatic person in the room, and your challenge is to talk to as many people as you can. It can be anywhere you feel comfortable.
Maybe there is someone in your office that you bump into in the kitchen every morning, and you’ve been meaning to introduce yourself. Maybe you sit next to the same person on the bus every morning but you’ve never had the guts to say hello. It doesn’t have to be a bar or nightclub and it doesn’t have to be a complete stranger.
My personal experience with this was that although slightly nerve racking at first, it very quickly became easier and easier with every new person I met.
“I’m sorry, I haven’t met you yet, my name is..
I found my conversation skills improving dramatically, and a few weeks later I didn’t even have to think about walking over to people and introducing myself. It happened naturally. It had become a part of who I was.
I’ve mentioned previously that I feel charisma is not necessarily about being the life of the party, or talking to random strangers, but it is definitely about interacting better with people and being able to know how to build rapport with them.
This exercise doesn’t have to be about walking up to random strangers in nightclubs and talking to them, but if you’re comfortable doing that then all the better to you.
This exercise is about practicing the art of interacting with people in the same social environment as you. It is about interacting with people that are standing around you. Once you have done this you will find you automatically become more charismatic as you grow in confidence.
After enough practice you will realize that everyone feels an element of social anxiety when placed in a room full of strangers, and most of them are dying for someone to break the ice. If you can be the one to do it and ease their anxiety, you will become instantly memorable in their eyes.
Want to Become a Master at Building Rapport?
Here at The Charisma Rules, we believe that building rapport is one of the key elements of becoming more charismatic. We also believe that Charisma is made up of certain rules that can be learnt.
It all comes down to being aware that these rules exist, and then applying them to your life.
If you'd like to learn more about these rules, be sure to grab a copy of The Charisma Rules.