The Business of Hugs

August 29, 2011

Have you hugged your social media buddy today?

I am not usually a hugger. If you ever see me and my sister hug you would laugh. It’s sort of a tap that looks so ridiculous that we have made into a family joke. However, I admit, that I have become much more of a hugger since developing stronger relationships through social media. Now, when I “meet” people in person, people who I have known through social media, we hug. It’s not a rule,  and there are some people who I don’t have that bond with, but for the most part, I greet people like old friends and a warm embrace.

It’s not just me. I witness the business of hugging at every event I go to that has had strong social media activity before the event. Last week while I was at EventCamp Twin Cities, I saw so much hugging that it got me thinking  about the effect of hugging on business. Does the business of hugging happen in all industries or is it based on the personalities of the attendees? Would a group of doctors who formed a community through social media have the same level of affection for each other that event planners do? Would lawyers or accountants create bonds so strong that they are driven to embrace upon meeting?

And the most important question that I have is: what is the ROH or the Return on Hug?

Here are some thoughts on ROH.

1. Hugging builds trust and makes communication easier. Hugs create an level of intimacy that can tear down walls and strengthen relationships.

2. People who hug are more likely to refer business to each other. Hugs mean I like you and if you have a service or product that someone needs, I am more likely to refer business to you.

3. Hugs create a feeling of acceptance which can lead to a more option sharing of ideas. When you feel accepted, there is less fear, allowing for a more open exchange of ideas.

4. Studies have shown that hugs can heart rate and blood pressure.  We are always looking for ways to keep attendees healthy with morning 5Ks, and smarter snacks. By connecting people who like each other enough to embrace, you can actually improve their physical well-being.

5. Hugs eliminate the need to figure out how many kisses are dictated by the particular culture of the person who you are greeting. You know what I mean if you have ever thought to yourself: Is it one, two, three? It is an air kiss or a full-on wet one?

Now I understand that hugging is not new to social media. People who know each other and have formed relationships have been hugging for centuries. But what I have noticed is that because social media accelerates these relationships, the hug upon first meeting, is much more prevalent.

So how do you feel about the business of hugging? Is there really a Return on Hug? What if you are a hugger and your new friend is not? When is hugging not appropriate in the business world? Please share your stories and your thoughts.