So, the other day I was at networking event in Creve Coeur. As usual, I start to size up the room: Who is my target? Who are the people that KNOW people? Who is it that I need to know?
As I am registered and picked up my name tag at the welcome table, I noticed a gentleman in a 3-piece suit, perfectly fitted and tailored. You know a good suit when you see one and this was a good suit. He wore dark navy with pinstripes. Underneath the vest, he had a crisp white collared shirt with a bright red tie. Scanning down the tie, I noticed a gold monogrammed tie tack perfectly positioned. Upon further inspection I noticed a crisp pair of perfectly-polished dark brown tasseled shoes. It all went much quicker in my mind, but I need to set up the story! After taking this all in, I assumed in my mind that this person was one of three things:
B) Financial Planner or
C) Corporate Executive of Fortune 500 company.
As quickly as I made my assumptions, I had my nametag in hand and started to head toward the open doors of the room.
I walked forward about 100 feet and was quickly greeted by a very small framed woman in a pair of jeans and tailored white shirt with tall brown leather boots. Her hair was pulled into a loose ponytail and she had minimal makeup. She reached out her hand and said “good morning!” I reached out my hand to meet hers. While our hands were about the same size, not tiny but far from large, there was still a nice firm clutch and shake. Not too hard, as if she was trying to overpower my squeeze, but firm, authoritative and confident. We engaged in conversation for about 10 minutes and then parted ways. I left the conversation thinking, “This woman has it figured out. She is someone that I trust and would certainly call or refer should I need or meet someone that could use her services.”
As I began to turn and walk away, in front of me stood the gentleman with the 3-piece suit. He extended his arm for a hand shake…………………and there it was. The limp noodle “handshake” that makes your skin crawl. I started thinking, “Do I look like I am sick or frail? Are you sick and frail? You made an effort to shake my hand only to barely there shake and clutch it as if it’s the last thing on earth you want to be doing? Is the suit supposed to be powerful enough that you can skimp on the handshake?”
His only chance to make a first impression and that handshake blew it. I found myself so distracted by the gutless grip that I could hardly focus on the conversation. I do know this: I did not leave the conversation feeling as though I met someone that I could trust, that I would recommend to others or someone that exuded confidence. I felt as though I met a person who tried to “look” the part, but was not.
For some people a handshake is just a useless formality but to me and many others it is an indication of a person’s depth of character, trustworthiness and strength. When you shake hands with a person you are doing much more than saying “hello”. You are saying “this is who I am“. In an effort to help all of us out I have found 7 tips that I believe will help everyone perfect the handshake:
- Look the person in the eyes
- Use a firm grip
- Don’t be too hasty
- Don’t shake too much
- Make good use of the left hand
- Use your speech in conjunction with the handshake
- Remind people of your name straight away
Just like the words you use when you meet someone, your handshake can never be taken back. Be conscious to reach out in a way that will encourage a sense of trust and confidence. Exude leadership when making your first impression.
Still not convinced? Check out this story on an election lost in part due to a weak handshake!
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