Do you trust the people you buy from? The importance of building rapport to increase quality enquiries.

I was talking with a business connection the other day about the importance of building rapport to develop healthy relationships, both socially and professionally. Simply put, we are more inclined to engage with people we like and trust.

We tend to buy from people or companies that we trust. Of course, it goes both ways – people are only likely to invest with us and our organisation if they believe we can deliver.

So, if you want to get people on board – be it for your charity fundraiser, to sign-up to your sports club or to get quality business leads – it helps to strengthen connections.

As an example, I’ve talked about my keen interest in martial arts and have seen how it has increased interactions tenfold and led to interesting conversations.

In turn, I’ve have helped my respective Tang Soo Do and Taekwondo clubs build rapport and credibility through sharing stories – ranging from human interest to talking about the various benefits of the arts – which has helped celebrate their achievements, boost morale and increase membership.

Let me share some of the stories, which may give you ideas to support your respective club, business or charity. But first, let me tell you a little about my inspiration.

My inspiration

I took up martial arts a few years ago and find it’s a great way to exercise, de-stress and have fun. I loved watching martial arts films when I was growing up – including with the greats such as Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Cynthia Rothrock. And last summer, I had the privilege to meet my hero, Rothrock, who was breaking barriers for women in the industry back in the 1990s.

With Cynthia Rothrock, ‘Queen of Martial Arts’.

During the same seminar at Jamie Woodland’s Black Belt Academy, I also met the legend, Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace, known for his fast left leg kicks. He focused on his left leg following an injury to his right knee.

With Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace.

They were both incredible. To my mind, they embody the tenets of some of the traditional arts, such as perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.

Others have inspired and motivated me within my clubs. Passionate and dedicated, they help others to become the best they can. They often talk about the mental, physical and general wellbeing aspects of martial arts and how it has helped them during difficult times.

Human interest stories

Human interest stories tend to focus on personal experiences, rather than news value. A good story may elicit empathy and motivate people to act. With this in mind, we have shared their stories of overcoming adversity, achieving against the odds and the inspiration behind their continued commitment.

Firstly, Mitch Hopes, told the story of how his late mother had encouraged him to sign-up to the Korean based martial art Tang Soo Do when he was bullied at school. He has gone on to become a World Champion and has dedicated his trophy haul to his mum. And he enjoyed his first TV appearance – thanks to the team at ITV.

He has also appeared in several publications, including the following:

Overcoming adversity

Then there is one of my former instructors, Becky Sheppard, who has spoken about how martial arts helped her to cope with the stress of the pandemic while working with the NHS in intensive care. She too has gone on to win a world title:

Becky Sheppard, a Tang Soo Do World Champion.
Becky Sheppard, a Tang Soo Do World Champion.

She appeared in the national news:

Inclusive culture

In my experience, ITF Taekwondo embraces different abilities, backgrounds and needs. If you believe your organisation is inclusive and welcoming, this may be something you wish to promote.

Student Barbara Wood is an example of age being no barrier in martial arts – after she earned her Black Belt in Taekwondo at the age of 75. She enjoyed her time on TV and showed presenter Alex Lovell a few moves.

Barbara Wood, who earned her Black Belt in Taekwondo at the age of 75.
Barbara Wood, who earned her Black Belt in Taekwondo at the age of 75.

Barbara Wood who earned her Black Belt in Taekwondo aged 75 is interviewed on ITV News.

She also appeared in several news sites and gave a shout out on the BBC to the Old Farts Martial Arts Facebook group, which shares successes, challenges and guidance for martial artists over 40.

And she has since featured in book, following the publicity.

Success stories

While it’s not uncommon for business owners and martial artists to focus on the next challenge, I think it’s also important to celebrate and share success stories. Below are some examples of the clubs’ competitions wins:

Credibility and rapport

Robert Cialdini, a professor of psychology and marketing, writes in his book, Influence, about building  rapport and finding commonalities to create a sense of camaraderie and trust.

While it helps to mention qualifications, experience and track record (including wins) for credibility, it also helps to be relatable. With this in mind, you may wish to include background details such as where you grew up, studied and worked.

Benefits not features

During the same conversation with my business connection, we talked about how most people are more concerned with benefits than features in the first instance.

So, rather than talking about the number of moves in your tul/hyung/kata/pattern, perhaps look at how martial arts can aid mental and physical health, promote positive self-esteem and body image and reduce bullying. It can also help to promote you as an authority in your field, which increases trustworthiness and rapport. Below are a couple of examples:

So, if you wish to increase quality enquiries and leads, consider how building rapport can help you. To summarise: share human interest stories to inspire; be seen as an authority in your field; promote inclusivity and relatability, and find ways to share common interests and experiences to develop a sense of trust.

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