As my Italian friend said to me here, This is just too much.
But we kiss a lot here. North Americans tend to be huggers, but here in our International Community, there is such a conglomeration of Europeans, North Americans, Aussies, Russians, and people from the Middle East, not to mention Koreans and Japanese, that, well, the consensus seems to be kissing. Unfortunately for us, we are the least practiced. Maybe Korean people are less practised, I don't know. A lot of Indian people kiss, and a lot simply smile, and some shake hands.
The thing is, when you say hello or goodbye with kisses, and you happen to be Not Practiced, ANY NUMBER of AWKWARDNESSES can befall you. Here are some examples.
1. The duck and collide. You go for a hug, they go for a kiss, and you end up smashing them in the nose with your pointy shoulder. It's not only awkward, it's a little aggressive, you.
2. The h-h-h-hello. You second guess yourself so many times that you do a little hen dance, trying to decide which cheek to aim for. Then you are embarrassed, so you end up saying, Awwww... in your cute awkward lovey voice. (The Awwww is totally unnecessary, by the way.)
3. The ear explosion. This happens when you aim too far back, and end up making a lip smacking noise at the exact angle perfect for puncture of the ear drum. You know you've done this when the person backs away from you with a look of surprised injury. They are wondering why you hurt them like this.
4. The accidental lippist. Perhaps the worst of the bunch, this is what happens when angles are all wrong, again, except that when you go to make your move, you overcorrect and end up catching the corner of the person's mouth. At this point you back away without meeting their eyes.
5. Then there are all manner of awkward ducks and dodges, beard rubbings and half hugs and the question of two? three? Oh, are we going for another? Okay!
I've compiled a few tips that you may find helpful.
1. Air kissing is so superficial. Make contact, at least with your cheeks.
2. Sound helps. You need a nice MWAH.
3. Greeting kisses are not meant to be wet. Keep it dry and quick. You'll know if you have lips that are too moist if you catch people surreptitiously wiping their cheeks with the back of their hands after you kiss them.
4. I'd say that your best bet is two. Don't second guess, just go for a smooth swooping motion. Aim midway, definitely not too far back. Be the leader. Your kissing mate will follow your lead. Only go for three if the person you are kissing is French.
If you are really good friends, a little hug at the same time is always sweet. But trying to combine sideways hugs and greeting kisses is the SUREST path to awkwardness. Avoid this at all costs.
Over time, with practice, you may get to a point where you can keep from embarrassing yourself. Too much.