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Awkward handshake at a networking event? Don’t sweat it! Learn how to recover with a smile and make a positive comeback

Have you ever tried to handshake, and not been reciprocated? It is wired, particularly the first time that it happens and especially in a public event, a cocktail or a conference. But don’t worry about it, here’s how you can handle a failed handshake and turn it into a positive outcome. Don’t forget that the right handshake can change everything.

  1. Stay Visible and Clear: In a bustling environment, it’s possible the other person simply didn’t notice your handshake attempt. Make sure your hand is visible and extend it with clarity making sure they know what you are trying to accomplish.
  2. Don’t Take It Too Personally: Sometimes, the other person does not reciprocate the handshake. It could be due to cultural differences, personal preferences, or they may not care enough. Remember, this should not matter, it is just part of learning to network.
  3. Stand Tall and Smile: If your handshake goes unreciprocated, maintain your composure. Stand tall, smile, and make a light-hearted comment to lower the temperature. For example, you could say, “I guess you’re not a fan of handshakes,” before moving on. Don’t forget to say goodbye before taking off.
  4. Learn and Move On: Use the experience as a learning opportunity. Plan your next move and learn what you could do differently next time but overthink it. Walking away confidently from a failed handshake show that you are fearless and will make you more comfortable in future networking encounters. Once you failed 10 times, you will be a natural and will not sweat it.
  5. Embrace Other Forms of Greeting: In some cultures, and religions, or situations, handshakes may not be the preferred greeting. Be open to alternative greetings such as nods, bows, or verbal greetings. Adapting to different customs shows adaptability, and ecomotional capability and can help you connect more effectively next time. Learn from Italians how they network, as they are natural at it.
  6. Be the First Mover: In competitive environments, such as conferences or VIP events, take the initiative to offer a handshake first. Being proactive and confident can leave a lasting impression. Even if your first attempt is not reciprocated, you have demonstrated assertiveness and may still make a positive impact.

Remember, networking is about forging relations, and a failed handshake is a small data point and should not deter you. Stay positive, keep practicing your networking, and soon you will be a pro.