Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When You Shake Hands. . . Really Shake Hands!

Filed under: Handshakes,Networking Etiquette,Networking Manners — Larry James @ 7:00 am
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There is great power in expectancy. When you show up at networking events, expect great things to happen. When you walk into the room, brighten it with your smile, extend your hand to everyone, and make your remarks uplifting and positive. You should be seen and heard. Show your strengths. Send positive signals. Demonstrate who you are.

Ask questions about them. Broadcast a few of your most recent accomplishments and ask about theirs. Toot your own horn. Let them toot their horn. Be proud of what you do. Don’t get too carried away with the tooting. Avoid becoming a bore. A bore is a person who has more answers than there are questions. Temperance in all things. You don’t want to come across as an obnoxious braggart. Be interested in what others do. Practice listening.

Never overlook the importance of a warm and friendly handshake. A good handshake can help solidify a new relationship or detract from an otherwise good first impression. If it is well-executed it conveys self-confidence, trust, and a genuine interest in the other party.

Limp handshakes are out. It’s limp and apathetic and very awkward for the other person. It signifies disinterest. Bone-crushing and dead fish handshakes are really lame. You’ll need to avoid the wet handshake (sweaty palms) too. Careful not to go to far the other way and overdo the firmness of a handshake. Make it firm, but not firm enough to cut off blood circulation. You are not trying to bring them to their knees. The best handshakes are firm, brief and accompanied by a warm smile. When holding a cold drink, hold it in your left hand to avoid cold handshakes.

Believe it or not, you are often judged by the quality of the handshake. Greg Stewart, a business professor from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa says, “”We probably don’t consciously remember a person’s handshake or whether it was good or bad. But the handshake is one of the first nonverbal clues we get about the person’s overall personality, and that impression is what we remember.” Etiquette rules for shaking hands are the same for men and women.

handshakeOnce at a business networking meeting I encountered a man who only shook the ends of my fingers. No handshake is as uncomfortable as having the ends of your fingers squeezed together and pulled. This was a one-sided handshake. He had total control and I had no grip of any kind. I politely grabbed his hand with my free hand, pulled free and said, “Let’s try that again.” I then extended my hand until the web areas between the thumb and forefinger touched, firmly gripped his hand and offered my name.

A lazy handshake makes you appear disinterested, sort of like a “five-fingered yawn.” If you’re overzealous, however, it’s distracting and annoying. A meaningful handshake usually lasts from 3 to 5 seconds. A release of pressure by either party is a signal that the handshake is over. A good handshake has a nice up and down motion, not a back and forth one.

Gary Pittman says that a good handshake is in the hand of the beholder: if it feels good, it is good. Rarely will you remember a good handshake, but you will remember the bad ones. Handshakes matter.

UPDATE: Here is what Emily Post has to say about handshakes:

Most people are sizing you up as they shake your hand. In order to make a positive first impression, you must first master the proper handshake. As straightforward and simple as this everyday gesture may seem, be sure to take into account the following:

• When to shake. A handshake is in order not only when you’re being introduced but also when you welcome people into your office, when you run into someone you know outside of work, when you say good-bye, and whenever another person offers his or her hand.

• The gender question. Until recently, it was considered polite for a man to wait for a woman to extend her hand before extending his own, but this is no longer customary–especially in business. Furthermore, women should shake hands with other women, even if hesitant to do so. Today a handshake is usually expected, regardless of one’s gender.

• The proper grip. Your grip speaks volumes: A limp one suggests hesitance or timidity, and a bone-cruncher can come across as overly enthusiastic or domineering-not to mention painful. A medium-firm grip conveys confidence and authority. Also make sure your shake is palm-to-palm (not fingers-to-fingers), and keep your hand perpendicular to the ground. An upturned palm may subconsciously signal submissiveness; a downward palm, dominance.

• The two-hand shake. This involves clasping the outside of the greeter’s hand with your free hand. While this kind of handshake signals warmth, it can seem presumptuous or insincere when used in a first meeting. Take care: Some people consider the two-hand shake too intimate for business, while others see it as a “power” move, intended to subtly intimidate the recipient.

• Gloved handshakes. When winter gloves are worn outdoors, common sense prevails: You needn’t take them off to shake someone’s hand. A woman attending an event that calls for formal attire leaves her gloves on when shaking hands, but she takes them off when it comes time to eat.

BONUS Article: The Perfect Handshake: How to Shake Hands Like JFK and Make an Impression


Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

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