Look at your current networking strategy - is referral-sharing one of the key objectives? If it is, then knowing when and how to "kiss the ring" is a critical skill that you need to master.
Once upon a time, failing to kiss a ruler's ring could put you in mortal danger. Today, skipping the kiss is less risky, but its certainly still part of the etiquette (and signal-sending) of high-level business development. Repeated mishandlings probably won't boost your opportunities for attracting new business, either.
Early on, my first few rounds of networking were baffling - how can you possibly know who you need to be talking to? With hundreds of people in the room it's not always immediately apparent.
But as I attended more and more networking events, I came to realize that greeting my Host should almost always be my first step. They're there to be a great resource for the room, and you're always in good form when you take that extra moment to say "thank you" to the person who's throwing the party.
Polished Pros walk into the room grateful for their Host's efforts and open to reciprocity.
So how does a savvy networker acknowledge their Host in a genuine way - without coming off as half-cocked, or worse, rushing and obsequious?
Begin by remembering this - your Host supervised all the heavy-lifting that happened in order for this event to run smoothly. Entreprenerds, whether or not they're aware of it, tend to arrive with nervous energy that they keep inwardly-focused. That focus can blind them to all of the things that their Host has done on their behalf, which means that they probably aren't going to remember to greet and thank their Host. Polished Pros on the other hand accept their Host's hard work as a simple truth, and they walk into the room grateful for it and open to reciprocity.
Showing up like a Polished Pro may take a little practice, but really, anyone can do it. When in comes to Kissing the Ring at a networking event, my action plan includes:
- Arrive a minute or two early.
- Identify the Host - ideally I do this before the event, but I also feel free to ask someone if I'm new to the room - an easy and effective gambit.
- With my Host ID'd, my next priority is shaking their hand - so I find the line and queue up.
- Wait your turn. Relax. Chat while you're waiting. Focus but don't rush.
- The Host will nearly always take a moment to acknowledge me - then I:
- Smile and share my 'name rank and serial number' - keep it simple - and I don't market myself.
- I thank the host, let them know I'm pleased to meet them, and that I appreciate their hard work and effort.
- Whether or not they do acknowledge you, close the moment with a smile, and resume networking (additional Pro tip: learn to find the Reciprocators)
Acting from gratitude also allows me to intuitively track the activity that's going on in the room, and it makes it easier for me to join in the action - and that visibility can be key to entering the virtuous circle of referral-sharing.
Putting useful forms like this one into practice - in a variety of settings - means that you'll be showing up to every event full of confidence. You'll be acting like a Polished Pro in no time - every time.
(Special thanks to Jeff Kleid for inspiring this post)
Your comments are always welcome.
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