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Ever reach out for a handshake at a networking event, only to have your hand hanging awkwardly in mid-air? It happened to me recently at an investment meeting, and let me tell you, it felt mortifying!

Shake it Off (Literally!): First things first, consider the situation. Were you in a crowded room where your outstretched hand might have gotten lost in the shuffle? Make sure your greeting is clear next time. Extend your hand with confidence and make eye contact to show you’re ready to connect. Make also sure that your voice is heard avoiding the half-ass efforts.

It is Not About You: Maybe the handshake wasn’t a personal snub. Different cultures have varying greetings, and some people simply prefer a wave or a friendly “hello.” Remember, this isn’t a reflection on you. Covid has also left mental damages in people who have become more socially awkward and prefer not to shake hands. Take it in stride as a chance to learn and adapt.

The Power of Smile: If your handshake goes unanswered, don’t let it deflate you. Stand tall, flash a friendly smile, and break the tension with a lighthearted comment. Something like, “Guess handshakes aren’t your thing?” can work wonders. Then, move on gracefully after saying goodbye. Remember, you were one of the few to make this move, so don’t forget to celebrate your risk taking and leadership.

Learn and Grow: Think of a missed handshake as a learning experience. Reflect on what you could do differently next time, but don’t overthink it. The key is to project confidence. The more comfortable you are in your own skin, the less a handshake faux pas will deter you. Remember, even the smoothest networkers have had their share of awkward moments. The more you learn about how to handle rejection, the stronger you are going to get.

Beyond the Handshake: The beauty of networking is that it’s not all about physical greetings. Be open to adapting your approach. A friendly nod, a respectful bow depending on the culture, or a warm verbal greeting can be just as effective. This shows you’re adaptable, culturally and socially aware, which are great qualities for forging relations.

Be the Boss:In competitive environments, take charge! Extend your hand first with confidence. Even if the handshake isn’t returned, you’ve demonstrated assertiveness, and that will certainly leave a positive impression.

The Bigger Picture: Networking is about building relationships, and a missed handshake is a tiny data point in the grand scheme of things. Don’t let it discourage you. Stay positive, keep practicing your skills, and soon you’ll be a networking pro!

Conclusions: Remember, even the most successful people, from billionaire Jack Ma to President Abraham Lincoln, have faced countless rejections throughout their careers. They weren’t labelled “losers” because of the multiple rejections, but rather, they used these rejections as valuable learning experiences to fuel their growth. A missed handshake, while unpleasant, is a minor blip in the grand scheme of things. By embracing your adaptability and communication skills, you can turn this experience into a positive one.