To Kiss Or Not To Kiss?

by Charlie Lawson on August 27, 2014 · 1 comment

welcome-new-members-150x150I was at a networking event recently, and spotted a lady that I’d met a few times before. I approached her, offering my hand to shake. She ignored this, and leant right over and kissed me on the cheek.

I was a little taken aback by her directness: after all, I didn’t know her well, and the event was being held in a very ‘professional’ setting – the offices of a law firm. More than that, as an Unnatural Networker, I find meeting people hard enough without having to think about kissing them. When it comes to networking, I’m just not a kissing type of guy.

Fast-forward to a couple of weeks later, and another networking event. There, I saw another lady that I have met a number of times before. I don’t know why – perhaps I was subconsciously influenced by events at the previous event – when we greeted each other, I leant in to kiss her on the cheek.

There then followed one of those really awkward occasions where she clearly wasn’t comfortable with this, but through my body language, I had ‘committed myself’. It all ended up with an embarrassing pregnant pause and a conversation that we both couldn’t wait to excuse ourselves from. Hardly the best way to build a relationship when networking!

Based on conversations I’ve had with fellow Unnatural Networkers, there are plenty of other people who find this sort of situation difficult.

How best to handle it then? Well, that depends slightly. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, I would always play it safe and just offer your hand to shake. In a professional networking context, I just don’t believe it’s appropriate to kiss people – even if you’re comfortable with it, there’s a high likelihood the other person won’t be.

If you know the person, but don’t know them well: I’d still err on the side of caution, and just shake hands. Networking is about building relationships – you wouldn’t want to jeopardise that relationship simply because your actions make the other person uncomfortable.

If you know the other person well – think about what you normally do when you greet each other. As the relationship is there already, it may well be appropriate to kiss or hug. But bear in mind that this is still a professional relationship you’re cultivating. If you don’t feel comfortable kissing, be honest and tell them. People respect honesty and being true to oneself, and would rather know if their actions were making you uncomfortable.

How do you approach this networking minefield?

Charlie Lawson
Charlie Lawson – BNI National Director and Word of Mouth marketing expert, whose passion is to see BNI members succeed in their businesses.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike September 8, 2014 at 13:23

Brilliant article! I sometimes find myself in the same situation, but there is some great tips here thank you for sharing it with us.



Leave a Comment


Previous post:

Next post: