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Networking tip 14: Think like a host

Rather than entering the room with the attitude of “Here I am!” you should maintain the networking mindset of taking an interest in others (“There you are!”). My former colleague, Chris, takes concentrating on others a step further. He has a knack of treating everyone as though they are important guests and he’s the host—even when he’s technically a visitor, too. Chris is always the first to ask if anyone needs a drink or a bite to eat. He looks after everyone’s comfort and makes sure that each person is properly introduced. If there aren’t enough seats, Chris always tries to find another, or goes without one himself.  Whatever the situation, he takes responsibility for making other people feel at ease. Not surprisingly, people respond to Chris’s warmth just as guests respond to a great host—and Chris’s attitude always makes him the most popular person in any crowd.

So whenever you meet someone you should focus on his needs, on supporting and empowering him, and on putting him at ease. This does two things: First, it actually makes you more relaxed by switching your attention away from your own discomfort (if any). Second, it subtly alters the dynamics of the encounter, subliminally elevating you into a host, or even into a leader. (Real leadership is all about empowering others—but we’ll get to that in later chapters.)

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