Over the last few weeks, I have met up with a lot of young professionals in varying stages of their professional life. Some are already deep into the college experience and working at internships, research or projects related to their major. Others are in the throws of their career game and looking for tricks to inch ahead of others in their field.
What surprises me is that most don't reach out to shake my hand as we introduce ourselves or don't reach to shake hands as we are closing our business together. When I reach forward to shake their hand, I can't help but feel the opportunities they are missing by an authoritative handshake.
This is how things usually go...I get a wimpy hand with just the fingers barely touching my fingers. Or I get no handshake gesture at all. So, I say this to every young professional: If you are having a one-on-one conversation with anyone, it is always appropriate to shake their hand. Going back through a time, we see that treaties have been made with a handshake. That should tell the power and importance of a good one.
A hiring manager once told me that he has chosen a candidate based on a stellar handshake and their qualifications.
I met with someone recently who had so many things in each hand that she could not even offer me a handshake. When preparing for any networking keep your handhelds to a minimum, if at all.
Let's first talk about what a bad handshake might say about you:
Clammy/wet palm: This usually gives the impression that you are nervous or unwell. It's not a deal breaker, though, because most young professionals get nervous if meeting someone new or are in an unfamiliar situation.
All fingers: This is when both parties shake with just their fingers. As soon as it happens, it just doesn't feel right. You could appear as if you are unsure of yourself or that you are not yet a confident adult.
Using both hands: This is when you lightly grip the persons elbow or place your second hand over top of the hand you both are shaking. It could appear that you are aggressive or too dominant. One-handed shakes are the perfect amount of forwardness.
Let's talk about how it's done:
Assume the position:
Reach your hand out straight towards the recipient. Your hand should neither be palm up nor palm down. The thumb is pointed to the ceiling. Your hand should be opened all the way and not cupped.
Web to Web contact:
Slide your hand close to the other persons and full make contact with the web of their thumb. Then wrap your thumb on their thumb. Palm and fingers are flat and should make full contact as well.
A light shake:
One to two, not too firm shakes up and down from the elbow and forearm is great. No need to involve the wrist in this gesture. Then, release and retreat, But still maintain a close enough distance to make a connection with the person. This shows that you have genuine interest in them.
A young professional has so many opportunities to practice. Family, like grandparents, always welcome a visit and they don't even need to know you're trying out a new skill. Your gym trainer could use a daily handshake or how about the bartender who makes your drink?
Getting the job you want, impressing your date or whatever are all new situations and you start with a fresh coat of paint. A meaningful handshake is one of those things in life that costs you nothing but is good for big impact.
If you are someone between 18 and 30 yrs and want to get even more helpful advice on how to sharpen current skills, develop new skills and build unshakable confidence in your business and personal life, connect with me firstname.lastname@example.org or Instagram @MicheleTasca