A Different Take on “Hosting”
The word “hosting” has several definitions. Lately, with the shift toward a high-tech focus, the word “hosting” might conjure images of a server farm, with rows and rows of servers, network switches, and routers. Hosting might bring to mind a medical scenario, such as the host of an implanted organ or a microorganism attacking its host. I’d like to suggest another perspective a little more applicable to business, and that is hosting guests, such as one might invite to an event. Hosting, in the sense of a business or networking event, conveys possible gaiety, enjoyment, or even celebration of an achievement or an acknowledgment of some kind. Regardless of the reason for the gathering, for an event to in fact be categorized as such, there must be guests in attendance. Whom we choose to invite plays a large part in the success of the event.
Hosting Is an Investment
Those in your professional and personal circles represent some of your most valuable assets, often referred to as social capital. The people in your networks and the ways in which we all contribute to each other can be measured, though not always in monetary ways. Few people understand the value of hosting better than author Judy Robinett. She is a renowned expert on the power of connecting with people. In her newest book, How To Be A Power Connector: The 5-50-150 Rule For Turning Your Business Network Into Profits (McGraw-Hill, Spring 2014), she addresses the value of understanding relationships and the various networking elements of which they are comprised. She also examines the more crucial components of the relationship between whom you know and their respective networks. As she states, “Relationships are about building connections with others who must (emphasis added) feel that you have their best interests at heart, and vice versa.”
Hosting Is an Opportunity
Imagine yourself as the host of a grand event. Now, imagine your guests, those whom you’ve invited personally and those they might have brought with them. Each one represents potential: connections to be made, growth to be achieved, new circles and networks of friends, colleagues, and yes, perhaps even customers. Imagine all of these possibilities all stemming from one spectacular event. A thoughtful host judges the success or failure of their events by the experience they were able to create for their guests. Start thinking of your customers as guests, and the experience you want to provide for them. Thinking of them in this fashion should lead you through the necessary steps to deliver a positive and emotionally evocative experience. How is this done? It’s not difficult, but it does require authenticity. Here are five ways to conduct your business as if it were an event your customers would be delighted to attend:
- Prioritize each guest’s personal expectation and experience.
- Demonstrate respect and courtesy at all times.
- Add a personal touch or detail, where possible.
- Equip your staff to act as gracious co-hosts, prioritizing guests’ experience.
- Strive to make each individual feel like a guest of honor, or at the very least an important guest.
Hosting Is About People
How do you make the shift from simply providing a product or service to thinking of your business as hosting a series of enjoyable events? Start by giving a greater emphasis to the relationship you’re building with customers. The goal changes from a successful business transaction to achieving a satisfied guest who walks away from the first “event” already looking forward to the next one.
Here’s the bottom line: People matter. If your organization doesn’t already have one, I suggest crafting a Relationship Statement. Think “Mission Statement” with a “people” focus. If you need some inspiration, here’s my company’s relationship statement: We believe in the infinite potential of closer relationships. Once you’ve created your relationship statement, the next question to ask yourself is, “What am I going to do to achieve it?”