“I’m not good at gaining rapport. I need to be better with people.” If this thought has ever crossed your mind, here are some ideas to help you improve your rapport-building skills.

1.  Smile. Want to know the quickest way to build rapport and encourage people to open up? Smile—it’s really that simple. A smile creates a positive response in others. It says that you are a friend, that you are pleasant, that you are happy. All of these things encourage people to let down their guard.

2.  Be human. Well, you’re already human, but strive to be really human. Share the things that make you human. You have feelings. You have a husband or a wife or a significant other or kids or a hobby or something that makes you unique. Sharing the experiences that make you human encourages others to share theirs, too. Boom! You’re connected.

3.  Be vulnerable. Being vulnerable involves more than just being human. It creates a real bond. Being vulnerable means opening yourself up to the possibility that you might be hurt. That openness means that you have entrusted someone with your feelings. And in giving trust, you gain trust.

4.  Listen. If you want to generate rapport, be a great listener. A good set of questions, which invite the other person to share, is better than a statement. A good conversation involves give and take. But if you want to build rapport, leave others more room to talk than you might think necessary. And if they won’t talk, try showing vulnerability and then being really, really quiet.

5.  Have a sense of humor. A sense of humor can really help create rapport. People want to be around others who make them laugh and feel good. And a sense of humor says that the task at hand can be fun—or at least pleasant. It can shrink a seemingly big issue to a more manageable size. Humor is a great way to break the ice and warm up a cold shoulder.

That new client or prospect may have his guard up, but there things you can do to break it down. Just remember: Rapport doesn’t say “I like you” but “I am like you.”

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S. Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go http://thesalesblog.com/s-anthony-iannarino/