Get a Grip on Your Grasp – Five Tips for an Effective and Confident Handshake

I’ve been talking a lot about ACHE Congress. No time like the present! If you’re really getting the most out of the event (and others like it), you’ll be actively involved—seeking out new contacts, mentors and peers.

What is the natural thing for a professional to do when she first meets another like-minded individual in such a setting? The handshake may seem a no-brainer from the outset, but there is a right way (and a lot of wrong ways) to execute this all-important component of creating a first impression.

For starters, proper etiquette dictates that, if you’re sitting and are approached by an individual, you need to rise to make introductions. You should never be seated while your contact is standing. Awkward.

Now, to the “anatomy” of the proper handshake, which consists of five parts:

– Dry your hands. It sounds silly, but have you ever shook hands with an individual with cold, clammy hands? What was your impression? I’m betting it wasn’t positive. And YOU probably wanted to wash your hands afterward.

– Extend your hand, thumb up. Firmly grasp the other hand.

– Be conscious that motion comes from the elbow, not the shoulder.

– Lean in slightly. Smile confidently. Look the other person straight in the eye.

– Shake the other hand once or twice, and release cleanly.

There is even more “science” to it. Your handshake can say so much about you. When you actually go to shake the other person’s hand, you don’t want to do so in a weak, limp manner. That sends the message that you are passive, with a lack of confidence—is that what you want to tell someone you first meet without saying a word?

On the flipside, you don’t want to have such a strong grip that you convey aggressiveness or excess. Such a handshake can suggest you’re trying to overcompensate for real inadequacies.

You want to shake hands in a firm, balanced way. Just a few seconds can speak volumes to how secure, trustworthy and confident you are. You don’t want to get off to the wrong start before you even have the chance to really open your mouth.