First impressions are highly powerful despite the fact these impressions are often formed in under 3 seconds. Many people will form a lasting view of you based on your physical appearance, your clothes, your handshake, your voice.

Given the power of the first impression, we want to do everything we can to “stack the deck” and make these impressions as great as they can be. The handshake is one of the biggest components of your first impression and it’s also maybe the simplest element to radically improve, so, it’s a great return on investment to make sure you are shaking hands the right way.

I meet people every week that are missing key components of a great handshake. Yet, the right way to shake is simple and can be taught in less than 2 minutes. Here are some tips to up your handshake game.

The Frequently Missed Steps to a Great Handshake

  1. Make eye contact and greet the person as you reach for their hand or listen if they are speaking. Either introduce yourself (“Hey, I’m Trey!”) or offer the appropriate greeting for the situation (“Hey, great to see you again!”)
  2. The webbing between your thumb and index finger should meet with the webbing of the other person’s hand. When you clasp your hand, your hands should “locked” together. Most people know this, but, some people have a tendency to not go in all the way and just try to “grab” the fingers rather than lock hands.
  3. Continue eye contact (or resume eye contact if you had to look away to find their hand) during the duration of your hand-to-hand contact. Eye contact is the most common area that I see people mess up. You should really focus in on the person during the greeting. You want them to feel that you are confident, present, and paying attention to them. Good eye contact is the key to feeling a real connection during a handshake.
  4. Give a firm handshake, don’t give the “dead fish” handshake and don’t make the other person’s knees buckle from pain from being overly firm. If you are unsure about firmness level at first, err toward firmness. The “dead fish” creates a very negative impression.
  5. Move your hand up and down a couple of times during the physical contact. Some people do this several times quickly, some people do this just a couple of times slowly. This is the piece that is part of your personality, feel free to experiment with what works for you and the situation.
  6. After you have both verbally greeted one another, break hand-to-hand contact. A good handshake usually only lasts a couple of seconds, but, may last a little longer if greeting phrases & responses are longer. Generally, one person is greeting the other person while reaching for them. Then, the other person greets back during the handshake and the shake is over.
  7. These rules are true for both men and women. Some women feel the need to not lock hands or provide a very weak handshake. A woman’s handshake should be exactly the same as a man’s. There is some very old information still circulating being spread that women should shake hands differently, but, this is just bad info.

I hope you find these quick tips helpful in upping your handshake game. Let me know what you think by emailing me at