Want Some Clients With That Shake?

Jacqueline Friedhof - HeadshotIntro from Alana:

Today’s creative guest submission made me smile from ear to ear and gave me such a chuckle!  It contains both clever and enormously important advice from Jacqueline L. Friedhof, a freelance business writer and editor in the Kansas City area.

She earned part of her undergraduate education from New York’s Fordham University and completed both a Bachelor of Science in Business and MBA with an emphasis in Leadership & Organizational Change from Pepperdine University in Los Angeles.

Her professional career has included contract roles with Monster Worldwide, Pepperdine University, Los Angeles Daily News, U.S. General Services Administration, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and Global Plains Advisory Group in areas including marketing, recruitment, project management, market research, HR, and process implementation.

She now focuses primarily on creative copy for businesses.

Jacqueline believes in the power of infinitesimal transformation.  “It is by nearly imperceptible shifts in thoughts, words, and actions that true change is manifested both personally and professionally.”  Based on this principle, she founded the “Itty Bitty Kindness Project” for positive change in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and is an essayist and actor, as well as an aspiring novelist.  Recent work has been featured in MindBodyGreen, the Elephant Journal, and on various community theater stages throughout the KC Metro.

Her most rewarding project to date has been maintaining her status as positive role model, single mother, and best friend to her teenage son, Tristan.  Welcome to CLC, Jacqueline!

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Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift.  Guest Post by Jacqueline L. Friedhof.

Ah, networking.  Compulsory, and oft anxiety-producing, a gathering where power-suited souls convene to partake in the 3 C’s of schmooze: coffee, conversation, and connection.  Each time we leave this sea of new faces, silently cramming factoids into our mental Rolodex, there are always those who made such a strong impression that we don’t even have to try to recall.  Some just “have it”: the stylish suit and warm demeanor, the extra-thick, high-gloss business card stock (yeah, yeah, we noticed). Then, after several enjoyable minutes of banter with this expert conversationalist, you prepare to part, casually discuss a follow-up next week, and wrap your polished, professional palm…around the carcass of a deceased fish.

“I shake it off, I shake it off…
I, I shake it off, I shake i–“

Scraaaatttch—!

Mic tap.

“Ladies and Gentlemen…please welcome to the stage…Professional Fail!”

We’ve all been on the receiving end of the “dead fish,” have we not?  There’s nothing quite like it to sour a first impression.  This handshake is by far the most infamous and for good reason! It conveys not only apathy, but lack of confidence and professionalism in business relationships.  Yikes.

To be fair, with so much contradicting information on the Internet, it can be easy to err on the side of ineffectual.  So, here are a few guidelines to help you craft an unforgettable, “Taylor-made” shake:

  1. Players Gonna Play – There are plenty of fish in the networking sea and it’s easy to be forgotten. So, keep it professional, but, when appropriate, make it fun.  Last month I travelled to a conference with a broken right arm. I felt so awkward that I almost didn’t go, but instead I introduced myself with a small joke each time I met someone. It kept my spirits up and consequently, I made countless memorable and mutually-beneficial connections.
  2. Haters Gonna Hate – Don’t underestimate the power of your handshake. Non-verbal communication is often more important than verbal.  Like it or not, people will remember your limp palm far more than your rock-solid elevator pitch. Critics are unforgiving; don’t give ‘em something to talk about.
  3. You’re Just Gonna Shake – Feel really great about the message you send upon meeting someone. Remember: your handshake is the eye contact of your professional body language, so keep it natural and, above all, keep it sincere.
  4. Shake It Off – If you haven’t perfected your intro-shake or even if you’ve been a dead fish offender in the past – gasp! – it’s time to take old habits, make like T. Swift and shake, shake, shake ‘em off.

In all things business we must practice our craft. Take this opportunity to think about your non-verbal elevator pitch.  What are three words you want to convey in the moment you shake hands with someone?  Now practice asking new people to describe their experience with your handshake and see how close you get!

Life’s too long for bad first impressions.

Agreed? Cool.

Let’s shake.

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