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The Anatomy of a Handshake

Too firm, too soft, and too sweaty are all key indicators that you need to work on your handshake. The way you present yourself to someone for the first time speaks volumes about the type of person that you are. Want to make a good first impression? We’ve broken down the anatomy of the handshake to help you master this hands-on approach to networking.

When to Shake

Extending a hand

  1. When you’re being introduced to/meeting someone for the first time, greet them with a handshake unless they come at you with both arms open for a hug, in which case you’ll have to reciprocate back. Some people are huggers, regardless of the environment.
  2. When you’re greeted by a room full of people at a meeting or networking event, it’s best to lead with a handshake.
  3. When someone else extends a hand, you should extend yours back as it would be rude not to.

Proper Positioning

Bad handshake

  1. Place your four fingers together as if glued to each other, with your thumb extended upwards and guide your hand towards theirs.
  2. When you make contact with their hand, aim your hand so that your thumb lands on the outside of their hand with your fingers wrapped around the outside of their hand.
  3. Once contact is made squeeze firmly, but not too firmly, as bodily harm is to be avoided. However, don’t squeeze too lightly or give them the limp hand a.k.a. “dead fish”, which should be avoided at all times.
  4. At the same time as the hand squeeze, pump your arm from the elbow once or twice.

Carrying out the Shake in Style

hanshake style

  1. Make eye contact with them to show that you mean business. Locking eyes with someone is a sign of respect.
  2. Don’t linger, because that would be awkward, so leave the handshake to 3 seconds maximum.
  3. Try not to be nervous. Sweaty palms are sometimes unavoidable, but not pleasant for the recipient of the soggy shake. Tip: try to discretely wipe off any excess sweat onto your pants before you make contact.

Good handshakes stand out to interviewers, colleagues and business prospects so make sure to keep these tips in mind when you go in for a handshake.  If you mess up? Mistakes happen, so until you learn how to shake in style just shake it off and try again.

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