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The Power of a Handshake in Business Introductions & Lasting Impressions

Categories: Workplace Etiquette

Did you know that the last Thursday in June is National Handshake Day, according to Chase’s Calendar of Events?

OK. It’s probably not as much fun as Christmas, but here's why you should care...

A 2008 study by the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business found that students who scored high with trained handshake raters were also considered to be the most hirable by job interviewers from Iowa City-area businesses. Betcha didn’t know there was any such thing as a trained handshake rater, did you?

An older – but still relevant today -- 2001 survey determined that prospective employers consider a good handshake so vital, they’re actually more likely to pass on hiring an applicant with a weak handshake than one with visible body piercings! Surprise!

So what’s going on here? Why are handshakes so important that people are trained to test them?

As I keep stressing in my books, training programs, coaching sessions, and blog posts, relationships are the foundation of a successful business, and a successful career.

Making a positive first impression is still very important. A bad impression is pretty hard to overcome, because usually you will not get the chance.

Avoiding handshakes altogether because you are unsure of proper etiquette, squeamish about germs, or just don’t think they are still relevant in our increasingly “casual Friday world” — well, that presents an impression, too: One of a person who doesn’t trust, cannot be trusted, or even worse, is simply clueless.

A good, professional, powerful handshake is your first line of defense. Or is it offense, when you are campaigning hard for that plum job … looking to make that all-important first impression in an interview … meeting your new CEO for the first time … or making important and potentially career changing connections at a conference or networking event?

Whether defense or offense, the key with a handshake is not to offend or leave an aggressive, wimpy, or weird impression.

In my book, Help! Was That a Career-Limiting Move? I mention the 10 Nightmarish Handshakes to Avoid:

  1. The “macho cowboy”
  2. The wimp
  3. The “dead fish”
  4. The “four finger”
  5. The cold & clammy
  6. The sweaty palm
  7. The “I’ve got you covered” grip
  8. The “I won’t let go”
  9. The “southpaw”
  10. The “ringed torture”
Instead, think firm, confident grip, locked thumb joint to thumb joint, two to three pumps, and let it go.

Are you a handshake offender? Why be insecure about your grip? Find out more in the next post. Then line up a few handshake testers of your own, and get some feedback.

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