August 13, 2017

How To Shake Hands Professionally

You won’t make it far in life without shaking a few hands. Perfecting the art of a proper handshake is essential to making a good first impression. If you want to make connections and get ahead in the professional world you absolutely must learn how to shake hands professionally.

Businessman extends open hand for a handshake

Handshakes are the acceptable standard for greeting people in most social and professional settings. Take a minute to think about how many times you shake hands with people every day. Most people shake numerous hands on a daily basis without ever thinking about it.

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Have you ever experience a bad handshake? Sweaty palms, weak grips, awkward lingering, or excessive shaking can ruin the handshake experience. Is it time to start paying attention to your handshake etiquette? We think so.

Let’s take a quick look at how to shake hands professionally:

  • Introduce Yourself – Tell the person who you are before you reach out and shake their hands.
  • Dry Hand If Necessary – If you have sweaty palms, air them out and wipe them down before you initiate the handshake.
  • Initiate Appropriately – It’s almost always appropriate to initiate a handshake during a greeting. Never leave an extended hand hanging.
  • Use The Correct Hand – Most people shake with their right hand, but be prepared to shake with your left hand if circumstances require that. Pay attention to your non-shaking hand. Keep it visible and open.
  • Stand Up – Stand up out of respect for the person you are greeting.
  • Make Eye Contact – Look a person in the eyes as you shake hands.
  • Smile – A smile goes a long ways to establishing that you are a confident, friendly, genuine person.
  • Grip Firmly – A firm and consistent grip is perfect. Too tight and you could injure the other person’s hand. Too weak and your handshake will feel like a dead fish.
  • Pump 2-3 Times – Shake from the elbow 2 to 3 times.
  • Time It For 3-4 Seconds – Don’t linger while shaking hands. Keep it short and sweet.
  • Repeat Their Name – Saying something like “It’s great to meet you, Tom” during the handshake can help you remember their name later on.

None of these things are hard things to accomplish, so don’t overthink it. And definitely don’t make things awkward. Instead, find a friend or family member and practice how to shake hands professionally. It’s an important skill to master if you want to find a job or grow your network.

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FYI: In some cultures handshakes are taboo. Always read up on how professionals greet each other in different parts of the world. If you’re clueless, follow the other person’s lead and do your best.

Are you ready to nail your next handshake?

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About this Author 

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains. He travels the globe in search of snow and adventure. Life has allowed him to live and work all over the world doing cool jobs and loving every minute of it.

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