How’s your handshake? Let’s start with the in-person kind and I’ll get around to how it relates to digital. Humor me here, ok?
A handshake is such a simple gesture and can help to build important relationships. Yet, in that split second, people make a myriad of judgments about you!
C’mon, admit it. Remember the last time you shook hands with someone and it was like taking a hold of a limp fish? Yuck, right? Did you want to shake hands with that person again?
And even though you don’t like to admit it, when you shake hands with someone and it seems like they died maybe a week ago [or at least are well past their sell-by-date]…would they be someone you would want to do business with?
Probably not. It made you feel uncomfortable, but what was your first thought about that person? Did you think that they were lacking in confidence? Or worse?
Did you feel that maybe they were lacking in honesty or integrity?
Perception of nervousness can be interpreted differently from person to person. It might be interpreted as a lack of confidence, or just a little shyness, or acting suspiciously, or maybe even deceptive.
That perception may be far from the truth, but you only get that one first impression.
So how about the other guy, on the far opposite end of the handshake spectrum? The one who squeezes your hand as if trying to crush it. Ouch!
Again, the feeling is something of distrust, that this person is either SO lacking in confidence that they’re trying to fool you, or maybe trying to bully you? Either way, it’s uncomfortable and you would probably avoid wanting to shake their hand again.
And feeling that someone’s a bully would certainly affect your wanting to do business with them, right?
And then there are those who are just creepy. They take your hand and keep on talking and talking and won’t let go. You try to politely extract your hand and they resolutely keep a hold of it. I don’t know if this happens more to women but it’s just creepy.
It definitely transgresses boundaries, both personal and business and we’d all think twice about doing business with this person!
It’s pretty clear that even though this business practice takes place in just a few seconds, there’s an etiquette involved and clear expectations.
If you want to make a good impression, a good handshake is part of it.
So, what is a good handshake?
First, you need to be in the moment! Be with the person. Make yourself available. Put your attention solely on the person with whom you’re shaking hands.
Look at them! Not deep into their eyes in a creepy way. Not down at your feet or at their chest or over to the person next to them as if the person whose hand you’re holding is an after-thought!
Be attentive. Simply look at them and smile. Let the other person know that you’re genuinely interested in them and in what they have to say.
Make sure your handshake is confident and firm without trying to break their hand or show dominance and by all means, be sure to let go!
What if you can’t help it because you’re a nervous wreck?
We’ve all had times and occasions where we’re really nervous and sweaty. Can you wipe your hands discretely?
If not, and you’re really nervous and clammy, rather than the cold fish feel, just smile and acknowledge the person and have a good excuse. Maybe you have a cold and really don’t think it’s a good idea to shake hands today. Maybe you were just holding a dead fish or copier toner? No one wants those germs, scales or ink!
It’s all really about the greeting and impression. Maybe you can come up with a funny excuse that deflects your nervousness? You can still come off as warm and confident without the actual handshake and that might work better if your hands sweat a lot.
We know that offline this handshake ritual is very important and part of the first impression we make on others. It’s the beginning (or not) of a business relationship.
In the online world, we;re always talking about building relationships too. How do handshakes translate online? Is there a digital handshake?
Turns out, there is!
So what is a digital handshake?
Building a relationship online takes time, the same as on offline relationship does. But you’ll never have a chance at the relationship at all, if the initial handshake flops!
Where do people make their first impression of you and your business online? Online touchpoints are your website, social media sites and review sites, to name a few. These would be the most likely first encounters, so what impression are you giving?
How would you give a memorable digital handshake? And by memorable, I mean not a limp fish sort of way!
The main online touchpoint, of course, is your website. If we look for your company and we find only some Google streetview pics on a review site, that leaves a really poor first impression. That would be similar to a limp fish handshake.
You should have your own website. Make sure links are working and that contact information is easily accessible. Make sure it’s easy to navigate to find information. Confident. Friendly. Approachable. Just like your offline handshake!
Your digital handshake should be like your physical shake in other ways, too. You want to be available. You want your visitor to know that THEY are exactly who your attention is focused upon. You want to be exactly what they’re looking for! Each visitor should feel that you put that website there with him in mind!
Be sure that you aren’t overbearing or bullying or hand-crushing! Online that might be annoying popups that blast videos and won’t let a visitor move on until they watch the video! Or badgering us to buy something when we’ve only just landed (met you) two seconds ago!
And the popups that won’t go away or have invisible x’s are similar to the lingerer handshake, no?
Finally, I understand the value of retargeting ads but sometimes that can feel a little creepy too, can’t it? As a business owner, be conscious about what impression you’re making with all aspects of your site and marketing.
Although your website should be your main touchpoint online, sometimes people find their way to you through different platforms. They may have seen a blog article that you posted on LinkedIn. Maybe a quote that you posted on Pinterest caught their attention or a Tweet peeked their interest.
In these cases, your handshake would be there, on that impression, on that social media platform. What impression did you give?
Your social media presence is part of networking, advertising and branding. Be sure that it all fits together, showing a unified and consistent approach. We should still recognize you and your brand and how you do business, no matter which platform you’re on.
So spruce up those profiles. Make sure that ANYTHING you post is consistent in reflecting your business. Show people who you are by the information that you share with others.
Your digital handshake should be warm; friendly and confident, no matter which platform we happen to meet on! If we meet on a social media platform, your handshake and first impression should entice us to click over to your website to get to know you better.
Your digital handshake is a simple comment or post and yet in that split second, people make a myriad of judgments about you! Follow this advice, and that impression will be a positive one.
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- Digital Assets: Taking Care of Your Online Real Estate - October 29, 2016
- Got brand? Easy Tips to Help Your Company Stand Out - October 10, 2016
- How’s Your Digital Handshake - September 22, 2016