I’ve been to countless business, professional, and other organizational meetings throughout my career. I’m at ease as I enter these diverse contexts, a reflection of increased self-assuredness not to mention a broad network that leaves me confident that there’s a better than average chance I will encounter someone I know regardless of the setting.
But it hasn’t always been that way. I often felt anxious at the thought of entering a room full of strangers, not to mention some fear about whether or not I truly would fit in.
I’ve seen many individuals struggle with these same issues when faced with the prospect of attending events. I’ve offered various approaches that individuals can take to deal with these concerns, including attending events with a friend, reaching out to someone who is alone, and even standing by the bar or food to increase the chances of a conversation with a stranger.
Yet there’s only so much each one of us can do. It’s incumbent on the host of the event or gathering to plan for a warm welcome, including personally greeting each new arrival.
I’m talking one or more hosts greeting each guest with a smile and a handshake. This greeting often includes a brief exchange of personal information, directions to seating, coffee, and/or food, and even an introduction to another attendee.
A warm smile and friendly demeanor can’t help but make any and all guests feel welcome. Perhaps more importantly, they help to break the ice and encourage even longer conversations – and potentially deeper, longstanding, and mutually beneficial connections.
Seeing how much being greeted has meant to me over the course of my life, I typically volunteer for such duties whenever I can as one very small way of sharing my experience and enthusiasm. The first impression speaks very loudly, and I want to be in a position to ensure it is done right whether I’m teaching a class or workshop or hosting an business or professional event. The greeter role, and the greeting itself, might be minor to some, but for me they make a huge difference for ensuring a successful gathering and with that the long-term viability of the sponsoring organization. Perhaps more importantly, being a greeter is a phenomenal way to serve the organization while polishing skills and building a network.