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Mastering a Great Handshake for Ottawa Networking Events

eSAX-Ottawa-Networking-Events-Handshake-GuideOne of the most important, but often overlooked, part of successful networking is the handshake.

The origins of handshakes are interesting. They were originally a sign between medieval knights (or ancient Greeks, depending on who is telling the story) to show that they were approaching each other unarmed. Handshakes have remained a way in which people broker relationships, seal agreements, and otherwise commit to honorable action.

Nowadays handshakes are common in business networking, and is one of the few forms of physical contact that we experience in the networking world. It is good to have a solid handshake because it is part of the all-important 90 second “first impression” that people make of you, and a lot can be communicated through this one action.

Handshake basics:

  • Extend your right hand, palm vertical to the ground. If you want, you can tilt your palm slightly toward the sky to indicate openness, humility, and the desire to help.
  • Handshakes should be dry. If you have a problem with clammy hands try to wipe them off before you shake. Men can get away with carrying a handkerchief in their pockets and discretely drying their hands before they shake.
  • Use a firm grip, making sure not to be too weak or too strong.
  • Pump the handshake two or three times from your elbow and forearm, not your shoulder or upper arm. Water pump motion is uncomfortable, jolting, and aggressive to your partner.
  • The handshake should last 3-4 seconds, and should end before your oral greeting does.
  • Signal you are ready to release by relaxing your hand, but if your partner is a longer shaker just hang in there until they are done. You can come off as rude by pulling away before they release.
  • Remember: not everyone likes to shake hands! If you are unsure if someone wants to shake hands then it is okay to pause and wait for them to extend their hand or not.

It’s not just about the hand-to-hand contact! Other important parts of a good handshake include good eye contact, a warm smile, confident posture, and a step in toward the person you are making contact with (without getting too close). Also remember that if you are sitting, you should stand up to shake hands as a sign of respect. Greeting before and during the handshake.

Neuroscience has proven time and again that an impressive handshake leaves people with a better impression of you. Now, this doesn’t mean certain actual personalities use certain shakes, but this doesn’t stop people from making assumptions. Make sure to avoid these handshake “types”:

Handshake types to avoid:

  • The Crusher: Both the “finger crusher” and “bone crusher” variety happen when your grip is too strong. Seriously, don’t crush someone’s hand! If you squeeze too tight they will likely spend your whole pitch time thinking about the pain in their hand rather than actually listening to what you do. These people come off as well-meaning, but overenthusiastic person.
  • The Dead Fish: This is what people call the handshake that has no grip and no pumping action. It is basically placing your hand in theirs. People with dead fish handshake are perceived of as unemotional and apathetic with low self-esteem.
  • The Monarch (also known as Lady Fingers): Offering of just the fingertips shows either superiority, or extreme shyness. Can often be accompanied with the “polite pinch”.
  • The Double Hander (also known as the Politician): Using your other hand to clamp on to the top of their hand, or to even grab their elbow. This is too much contact for just meeting someone. It can make you seem overwhelming, overbearing, and too intimate. It can also make you seem too eager to sell something.
  • The Palm Down (or “Coming from Above”): When your hand ends approaches or ends up on top of the other person’s it appears you are attempting to be authoritative and coming off as aggressive. This can sometimes start as a normal handshake and turn into “the twister” when the other person’s hand ends up on top.

Practice your handshake on friends, coworkers, or colleagues and ask them for their honest opinion. It might seem silly, but it is a great way to find ways to improve if you’ve never gotten feedback from anyone on your handshake. It’s the best way to figure out your grip if you are otherwise unsure! You will have a great handshake for Ottawa Networking events in no time!

 

eSAX Tips for the Startup Networker

eSAXOttawaNetworkingSuggestions

Are you a new entrepreneur wondering if you should make networking a priority in your business?

Aspects of every business are relative to each business owner. That’s why you’ll never hear someone tell you an absolute that will make or break you. This means it is important to look into the facts and get some personal experience that will guide you in your decision-making.

Some people hate networking events and are able to have great success without stepping foot into one, but others love networking events and make many connections at them each week. It’s easy to say that you might as well network because any additional exposure for your business is good for business, but it is true that if you are uncomfortable and miserable you won’t be doing any favors for yourself.

Before forcing yourself into networking, consider some of the following ideas that may help you to realize some of the benefits you can get from the events.

Suggestions

  • Jump into networking when your business is new, especially if you don’t already have a ton of contacts in your industry. It will help you to build a strong foundation of supporters that you will lean on for the life of your business.
  • Don’t look at networking events as an opportunity to sell. Look at it as a chance to meet people that MAY end up being important mentors, partners, investors, or sources of referrals.
  • Have your website up and your business cards ready to go as these events are key to increasing your brand visibility. This is your opportunity to get the community used to seeing your logo and business name.
  • Use networking events as practice to improve networking skills and get comfortable talking about your business. This includes your 30 second elevator pitch!
  • Consider a networking event as a chance to do some research. Find out what are the current trends and demands in your industry or target market, or talk to many people that may offer insight and solutions into your own pain points.
  • Understand that coming away with just one new quality contact (mentor, colleague, friend, etc) is a very successful night.
  • Pick the networking event that is right for you. With an event like eSAX there is more of an emphasis on the social aspect, as well as mentorship and support of the small business community. You can also find events for your specific industry.
  • Decide if you are interested in “Hard Networking” groups that have a heavy focus on referrals (and also require membership fees and attendance) or “Soft Networking” such as eSAX networking events or your local chamber events that are more casual
  • Let yourself socialize! New business owners spend so much time on their business and neglect the social side of their human nature. Let yourself unwind a little bit and enjoy talking to like-minded entrepreneurs that are just as passionate about their business as you are about yours!

When starting out, it is easy to overlook networking since you have so much you are already devoting your time to. eSAX makes it easy to attend networking events in Ottawa with the scheduling of the events quarterly. Surely you can at least make time to spend one night of networking every three months! If you’d like to network more, but are nervous about it you can check out the “Find the Fedora” posts on the eSAX Facebook page and follow Jarrod to some great local events!