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You’re Only As Good As Your Handshake

Submitted by on May 25, 2010 – 6:21 pmNo Comment |

When I was nine years old, my dad took my mom and I with him on a business trip to Annapolis, Maryland.  On the way to dinner with his boss one night, Dad explained to me the importance of a firm handshake.

Before we walked into the restaurant, I practiced my handshake with my father. Sure enough, when I met my dad’s boss, he commented to Dad about what a confident handshake I had for a nine-year-old girl.  From that day forward, a person’s handshake makes an indelible first impression on me. In my opinion, a firm handshake implies confidence and commands respect, while a limp handshake implies a lack of self-esteem.

Last night on ABC’s The Bachelorette, bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky received her share of handshakes–25 of them to be exact.  I watched the entire episode (don’t judge me) and learned a few lessons on how to make a positive first impression–or not:

Don’t mumble- I know it was “live” television and these guys were nervous, but a lot of the men competing for Ali’s heart looked down at the floor and spoke way too softly when they first met her. Even if you’re nervous about meeting someone, it’s better to speak clearly and stumble over your words than to leave the person wondering what you said in the first place.

Be genuine– To be fair, the guys on The Bachelorette are essentially trying to sell themselves as a potential suitor; but no one likes a sales pitch.  You may be trying to sell yourself, your product or your business to the person you’re meeting, but people can tell when you look at them as a dollar sign rather than a person. My advice? Ask the person you’ve just met about himself/herself. Let them talk more than you talk.  In the end, you’ll know more about them and be able to give a more targeted “sales pitch later on.

Differentiate yourself from your competition– One of the guys on The Bachelorette did a back flip off the top of the limo.  At the end of the night, that guy walked away with a rose.  Why? Because he stood out from the other 24 guys competing for Ali’s heart and she wanted to know more him. Your product or business is probably one in a sea of many products and businesses just like it.  Whether it’s in the “About” section of your website, at a speaking engagement or in casual conversation, tell your audience what makes you different and why.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg as far as personal and professional branding lessons from The Bachelorette are concerned.  Maybe I’ll make a post like this every week.  It might make me feel better about the fact that I watch the show in the first place. =)

Photo used under CC license 3.0

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