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The Introductory Handshake

Five Elements of the Perfect Introductory Handshake

There are forty people at a science conference networking event and each shakes hands once only with the other attendees.  How many handshakes are there in total?

Handshakes are a daily ritual in the business realm, and a handshake is one of the strongest ‘first impression’ tools you can use, alongside eye contact and the way youdress.  It’s important to get it right. I’d recommend using the S.H.I.N.E approach to make sure you make a good first impression. So, shine on and offer the perfect introductory handshake.

Smile – a welcoming and genuine smile is easily understood when you first meet someone.  It sets the tone in so many ways, and keeps that body language friendly and open.  A smile suggests open communication, which is always the best, most confident signal to offer in interpersonal meetings.
Handshake – be firm and avoid a limp handed offering as this can make you seem nervous and submissive.  Equally, a vice-like grip is reminiscent of the school playground. Remember those punch each other’s arms games? And all that “It’s not sore” (ouch!) bravado competitions? Well, you are not in a fight or competition.  Go for a natural, assertive and equalising grasp.  Try not to overthink this bit.
Introduce – be mindful of the setting and hierarchy at play.  Whilst you are being by sized up by the person you’re meeting, remember that you have already appraised them too. A genuine, calm voice is much more sincere than a dry throated, anxious rasp, so breathe and remain as relaxed as you can. A confident, “Hello, pleased to meet you, my name is…..” is a straightforward start to build on rather than feeling you have to think of something witty and interesting that may just fall flat.
Name – If it feels better to be formal in your introduction, be so. A polite Dr or Professor never goes amiss, and circumstances may dictate that you use formal titles depending upon the context of the meeting.  Unless you are a gorilla, no hugely open armed back slapping gestures are needed, with a high five and a ‘Hey Man…” thrown in.  Oh, and if you are meeting a few people at once, it’s a good idea to concentrate at the name bit. More than 5 or 6 names at once can leave you dodging conversation from “him there” or “thingummy” or fumbling an introduction simply because you have forgotten who is who.  Try to correlate a distinguishing feature and attach it to the name you have been introduced to.  That’s Margo with the yellow bag, or William is holding a crown (visualisation at its best).
Eye Contact – alongside a smile, eye contact reinforces so much in an initial meeting.  It’s an important part of building trust and credibility.

Think about it, when you’re with people you can gain a huge amount of information just from their eye contact. Is their smile sincere and are they genuinely interested in what you have to say or are they scanning the room? Of course, it works both ways, it’s important for you to be respectful and pay attention when first meeting someone.
If you are being introduced by a third party, it is best to concentrate upon them until the introduction is made, at which point swing into action with the new person.  If you are meeting someone in a one-on-one situation, you might find that it is easier to take the lead and offer the S.H.I.N.E. treatment assertively and fittingly. Most of all, be yourself and this is just the beginning.  It is not the end….enjoy this meeting and make sure the other person enjoys meeting you.
So, there are forty people in a science conference and each shakes hands once only with the other confederates.  How many handshakes are there in total?
The answer is 780 – I’ll let you do the math.

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