5 Ways To Give A Good First Impression With A Confident Handshake

by Jason Parks

Have you been giving dead fish handshakes since entering the business world? According to Urban Dictionary, a dead fish handshake is the ultimate faux pas in handshaking etiquette.

A dead fish handshake, unsurprisingly, feels like you are holding a dead fish.

If someone recognizes that you have this handshake, you must immediately revise it, or else, be perceived as “wimpy.”

The last thing you need after meeting someone for the first time is for your new business acquaintance to relay to his friends and colleagues behind closed doors, or at the water cooler, that you have a weak handshake. Talk about a bad first impression!

This subject matter hits close to home. At the age of 13, as a fresh-faced teenager, I finished shooting a round of golf with several of my friends. I was too young to drive the golf cart, so we walked the 18 holes and I was exhausted after finishing.

The ranger by the clubhouse stuck out his right hand for me to shake while he simultaneously asked me how I had played. Before I could respond, he looked me straight in the eyes and asked, “Who the hell taught you how to shake someone’s hand?”

I was completely caught off guard and stood speechless. Barely five feet tall and 100 pounds at the time, I had never been criticized so harshly for my weak handshake. I vowed to myself that moving forward, this would never happen again.

Don’t get caught with the dead fish handshake like I did. Here are five things to remember when you grasp someone’s hand.

1. Eye Contact

Many people put so much effort into the strength of a handshake, but completely forget about maintaining eye contact.

Maintaining solid eye contact throughout the entire handshake process is crucial. According to, in all instances, we use our eyes as a level of communication with the other person. We also avoid a direct look from another person if we have something to hide.

When you are meeting someone for the first time, you don’t have anything to hide. Look the person directly in the eyes and don’t be the first person to look away!

2. Smile

According to WedMD, your smile can attract more than admiring looks. A smiling face tells people you’re an outgoing and intelligent person who is worth getting to know.

When you meet someone for the first time and go in for the handshake, these are all qualities you should want to portray. In the business world, people are more likely to want to work with you if they believe you are happy and outgoing.

Unless the moment is somber, smile when you are shaking someone’s hand.

3. Right Amount Of Strength

When you are getting ready to participate in the ultimate greeting, the handshake, you don’t need to give the death grip. You’re not Hulk Hogan. On the contrary, you don’t want to come off with a clammy handshake, either. outlines how to master the handshake, instructing readers to make sure both hands are pushed all the way in to meet web-to-web and the thumbs are facing straight up. This will result in the perfect amount of force on your handshake.

4. Proper Length

Who can forget that awkward handshake from your grandparent's friend that went on six or seven seconds longer than it should have?

If you want to count, a good handshake is held for three or four seconds. Anything longer than that can send the wrong impression and become uncomfortable.

5. Temperature

An important business meeting can definitely get the blood pressure racing. This can result in sweaty palms.

When you are about to indulge in a significant handshake, you don’t want to come off as the awkward teenager, who is so nervous before prom that his hands sweat profusely when he tries to put the corsage on his date.

Make sure you put your hands in your pockets or wipe them off so they are at a comfortable level before going in for the handshake. reports you should imagine you are opening a door handle and use about the same level of grip in your handshake.

Your business associate or client will compliment your handshake if you follow the five steps referenced above.

Don’t let the ranger (or business associate, in your case) catch you with the “dead fish.” Otherwise, it can lead to a demoralizing and unforgettable point in your life that you’ll wish you could reverse.