1 Comment | Jun 07, 2010

How’s Your Handshake?

I have a pet peeve that I inherited from my dad: people with weak handshakes. My father was a salesman; he shook many a hand in his lifetime. He told me, you can judge the merit of the person by the sincerity with which they shake your hand.

When I lived at home, I would tell a nervous boyfriend, “Make sure you give my dad a good firm handshake, and look him right in the eye!” When Dad met my future husband Fredrick, he said “I like him: he’s got a firm grip.”

Like many other traits and beliefs I got from Dad— like being left-handed and not trusting politicians— my belief in the importance of a good first impression has stuck with me, and I often wonder why some people, especially men, shake hands like they’re testing the bath water.

Your company brand and message are like that introductory handshake to prospective customers. If you’re wimpy about who you are, what you stand for and what you have to offer, the connection you make is insincere and ultimately ineffective.

Not sure what impression you make? If you’re a part of an organization, invite one representative from every department to sit in a room with a white board, and write down the answers to these questions. If you’re a one-person show, sit down with paper and pencil.

  1. How do we create value for our customers?
  2. Why are we different from our competitors?
  3. Why do our customers keep doing business with us?

Now look at your company’s web site home page, brochures, proposal boilerplate, Facebook/Twitter page and other customer-facing marketing materials. Are you clearly and succinctly articulating your message, both visually and in your marketing language, or are you vanilla, trying to be all things to all audiences? Is the impression you make the impression that you want to make? If you’re not sure, ask your customers for their input, then go back and have another look.

Don’t let your communications hit your audience like a wet noodle.

Do you have other questions to add to my list for improving your handshake? Please leave me a comment.

1 Comment

elaine greenberg 11:10 pm - 11th June:

Dad would love this one. Chalk one up for you.

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