Diverse group of young professionals in brick meeting room with laptops, tablets

5 Ways to Build Work Relationships for Career Success

The secret to landing an interview, having a mentor, and more lies in how you connect to others. Here's how you can build rapport and a stronger network.

The secret to landing your dream interview, meeting your ideal mentor, or developing a coveted relationship with an influencer lies in how you connect and relate to others. It’s all about building rapport. As vital as technology is, we don’t do business with keyboards, tablets, or apps. We don’t do business with business cards; we do business with human beings—so relationship building and rapport are essential. Building rapport and engaging with people—whether in person or online—takes practice. Much of it is based on intuition. It’s about creating a bond, link, connection, and understanding to another person.

The goal is to connect with others and get them thinking, feeling, reacting, and involved. And you can do this whether you have 10 months of work experience or 10 hours. Building rapport is an art and communication skill we all use daily in our interactions and relationships. It has to be developed if you want to connect with mentors and people who can hire you for internships and jobs. Consider these five tips for building rapport and professional relationships with anyone!

1. Be approachable

In person, carry yourself in a way that’s easy-going, friendly, and confident. Pay close attention to your body language and nonverbal communication. You may be scaring people away without knowing why! Online, you should have a welcoming and intriguing LinkedIn profile. Use a professional headshot and smile so your teeth show. Research finds that people respond more to those who smile with their mouths open than those who have closed mouths in their avatars. 

Related: 7 Things to Do on the First Day of a New Job

2. Ask good questions

People love to talk about themselves. Asking questions and paying attention to the responses will help you discover a person’s personality, values, interests, and challenges. Listen closely, as your follow-up is key. This is how someone will know you are truly paying attention to them. 

3. Pick up on favorite words and phrases

Also dependent on your listening skills, keep your ears tuned to speech patterns. Intersperse their favorite words into your conversation—in a subtle way. This will help create a bond. It also brings a sense of comfort to the individual you’re speaking with, whether it’s face-to-face or on social media.

Related: How to Start Networking: Top Tips and Tricks 

4. Use their name

The sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own name. Sprinkle it into a conversation. And when you’re online, consider this example when poking around on Twitter. If a person’s name is not in their handle, click on their profile and get their real name. It will take only a few seconds, but it sends a powerful message: “I took the time to find out who you are because I care.”

5. Learn the fine art of small talk

This will help in person and online, especially if you feel shy or nervous. Keep a few light “conversation starters” up your sleeve in case you run into a snag. Always look for opportunities that can connect you with others—it can be something as basic as liking the same sports team, having the same kind of car, or ordering the same lunch. Focus on similarities, not differences. If you don’t see eye-to-eye, you can still be respectful and appreciate differing opinions. Communication and relationships are based on compromise. With both in-person and online communication, you don’t have to agree all the time. A simple acknowledgement is usually sufficient—and appreciated.

Related: 9 Tips for Developing Soft Skills Before Graduation

Now you know the tricks of the trade that will help you build a good rapport with others. Strong professional relationships are essential to finding an internship, getting a recommendation, landing a job, or earning a promotion. By building and maintaining the connections you make along your career path, your network will pay off in no time. 

Find more helpful workplace advice in our Internships and Careers section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Nikole Dixon

Nikole Dixon

$500 Refer-a-Friend Scholarship Winner

Toward the beginning of last year, I was searching for scholarships to apply to through my school, town, websites online, and anything else I could find. I asked tons of questions [online] about scholarships and the best places to find them because I was desperate and needed as many as I could find. I came across a ton of bogus websites, but as soon as I found CollegeXpress, I knew I had to tell other people about it. It was definitely the most helpful site I came across, so I told my friends about it. CollegeXpress is definitely a website worth giving as a source.

Tinuola Dada

Tinuola Dada

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2015

I am very excited to be this year's recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship. This scholarship will bring me ever closer to my academic and professional goals. CollegeXpress has been an exceptional resource to me, and I recommend it to all rising seniors as they begin to navigate the college application process.

Sadie Hartmann

Sadie Hartmann

High School Class of 2021

I'm a senior in high school, and CollegeXpress has helped me in so many ways this year in trying to navigate the process of deciding and committing to a university. The COVID-19 Student Resource Center has helped me many times with the most up-to-date and accurate information, along with financial aid and student life [advice]. During these uncertain times, CollegeXpress has been a great recourse to relieve the stress as a senior. Along with the COVID-19 Student Resource Center, I'm constantly using the extremely helpful tools off the site to aid me during this stressful process. Tools like the lists and rankings of universities have been the most beneficial. I've also used the site to receive expert advice on topics like financial aid. Finally, CollegeXpress has helped me easily apply for several scholarships. I'm thankful to be given the chance to win a scholarship to lessen the burden of my college debt.

Khush

Khush

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress is a multi-maneuver platform that has been helping students in their college applications and scholarship hunt process. For me, CollegeXpress has been a boon. I've been able to find my dream university via CX, and I've also been able to apply to thousands of scholarships through it. All the thanks to CollegeXpress for doing such a great job for free. I express my sincere gratitude to you for doing such a wonderful job. I recommend CollegeXpress without any reservations.

Kyla McClain

Kyla McClain

High School Class of 2024

I found CollegeXpress when you partnered with Bold.org for a scholarship. I found your website, put my information in, and got connected. I only wanted to stay in North Carolina [for college] and not move far from home, but you all opened a door up for me. I started researching colleges you suggested for me. On your social media platforms, you also give really good test-taking tips that I used and suggested others to do the same. It helped me a lot on my exams, so thank you.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Meredith College

Raleigh, NC

Allegheny College

Meadville, PA

Ohio University

Athens, OH