For those of you who have attended my ‘Networking for Career Success’ workshops, you will know how much emphasis I put on handshakes and will have seen my comic demonstrations of what different handshakes look like!
Your career will be a series of handshakes and this simple act can say a lot about you, so it’s time to master it!
1. Keep Your Right Hand Free. Firstly there’s always that awkward moment when we’ve got our right hand full of something, and then someone tries to shake our hand, leaving you to shuffle stuff over to the left or find a table to plonk things on. By the nature that you’ve been using this hand to hold stuff, may mean it is hot and sweaty so the first tip is always to keep your right hand free!
2. Stand Up! Never shake hands sitting down. A handshake always normally is at the beginning or end of a conversation, so stand up to greet that person or stand up to say goodbye. Much more professional and your body language will convey how pleased you are to receive them or say goodbye to them.
3. Look and Engage. Whilst your hands are doing the shaking bit, look that person straight in the eyes. This will convey even more body language to them, and remember to smile!
4. Pressure. I’ve had some killer bone-crushing handshakes done on me (what is that all about?)! I’ve got my theories and so may you have too. The best handshakes are even-pressured and with equality coming from either party. The other ones I hate are where people seem to reluctantly shake your hand and instead hold yours with just a few fingers (no palm on palm here). They make you feel like you have a contagious infection they don’t want to catch, or they are worried you didn’t wash your hands after leaving the toilet! And think about how that makes the recipient feel! Do you leave that conversation feeling valued? Excited to have met that person? Ready to do business? Feeling like you’ve made a new friend?
5. How Many Shakes. 2-3 pumps of the arm are advisable, any more and you’ll be giving them the impression that you are their new best friend! Keep it professional!
6. Practice Makes Perfect. I have my classes of students practice with each other and of course, I join in too and give you instant feedback – smile, look at me when you shake, more pressure needed, less pressure needed etc.
The more you do it, the better you become. It’s part of your personal branding, along with your clothing, attitude, manner, confidence etc, so if this lets you down the rest of the brand will be ruined too. So do get it right!
And of course, it’s normally the first impression when you are being interviewed, so get off on the right note to start with and make that interviewer feel you have what it takes 🙂