You can tell a lot about a person by his/her handshake. More importantly, there are a lot of people who will form their impression of you from your handshake. So, you want to take that into consideration before putting out your hand.

For example, you want to offer a firm handshake with fingers extended (web to web) rather than clumped together. Avoid the dead fish handshake but don’t go overboard with a bone crusher.

Beyond your shaking style, be sure to shake hands in the proper order. For example, if you’re introduced to the ownership team of the company, be sure to shake the hand of the owner before the intern.

Always shake hands standing up. If you are seated and somebody approaches you, stand up to shake his/her hand.

Here are some other tips:

  • Shake up and down only, no back and forth
  • Keep it brief, 2-3 seconds
  • Stand still when you shake, never walking or on the move
  • High and dry; better to wipe your sweaty palm dry.
  • Add a greeting and remember a name; “Nice to meet you, Bob” as you shake hands. It will help you remember first names.
  • Make eye contact, even throw a smile in there to deepen your first impression.

Now, if you know a person and you see them at an event, you may want to get a little more casual with a fist pump, high-five or forearm bang. If you must, that’s okay. Same with business hugs and the double check air kiss. Yet if it’s not somebody you know and you want to present in a more formal way, you’re pretty much always better off playing it safe and shaking hands.