By Phil Stella
You begin making the very best first impression you can when networking with strangers with a winning smile and good eye contact. Then, continue that positive image with a comfortable handshake.
- As you introduce yourself, shake hands briefly and energetically. Firm but painless is the key. An energetic handshake suggests an energetic person. A wimpy handshake suggests … well, you get the picture.
- It’s called handSHAKE, not handHOLD, so go for two or three shakes, stop, and separate. Any longer starts to feel uncomfortable.
- It’s called HANDshake, not HANDSshake, so only use one hand. Don’t grip with the other hand as well — leave that for sales people and the clergy.
- It’s called HANDshake, not FINGERshake, so don’t just grab the person’s fingers. Make sure your palms meet.
- And avoid touching, patting on the back or hugging until you know the person well enough to avoid any discomfort or embarrassment.
- Given contemporary business etiquette, there should be no difference among handshakes between two men, between two women or between a man and a woman. Confident businesswomen regularly initiate handshakes with men.
- Besides being firm, your hand should be dry. Since we perspire in our palms, keep your hand dry before shaking hands with someone. Hold your drink in your other hand so the moisture from the glass or can doesn’t moisten your shaking hand.
A comfortable, energetic and dry handshake continues your positive first impression and helps jump-start the networking relationship. So, shake well before schmoozing.
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, which empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. He can be reached at (440) 449-0356.