(Im)Press The Flesh 101

You Americans and your ding-dang-doodling handshakes.

I’m well aware you go to finishing school to hone the finer arts of first impression making, and ‘Handshaking 101’ is the first thing on the syllabus.

Extend. Lock. Grasp. Eye Contact. Don’t Wince.

I’m always enamored by some of Steph’s friends’ husbands who practice their handshake on the rare occasion we get together. I always mentally raise an eyebrow. Although the UK has more handshake mavericks if I’m being honest. The number of times I’ve found myself in an unexpected handshake war of attrition as some half-ballooned exec plays knuckle-squeeze chicken™ is quite a few.

But this past week has seen a few candidates float in and out of the office to see Justin about the search marketing specialist / associate position he’s currently interviewing for. Now some have ignored me entirely, some engaged me in conversation, and one or three have gone for the handshake. Now I break all handshake conventions by remaining sat at my desk, but don’t forget – I’m a maverick.

There’s one of the candidates thus far who went for the handshake by extending their arm up and over my monitor and into my general proxemics. I went for the lock and load, but due to the fact that they were twisting up and over with the back of their hand facing the desk they were at a bit of a disadvantage. Having never taken ‘Handshaking 101’ I had no other choice but to wing it with my inferior knowledge.

The next thing you know I’ve felt what very well could’ve been their carpal tunnel snap like a soggy hollow pretzel.

They didn’t let on, though. Top stuff!

Go on, Arnie…..Squeeeeeeze.

But, I was panicked a shade when I read this article from the BBC about some woman in Ft. Lauderdale who has been charged with assault after an over-zealous handshake. As the BBC states:

“In shaking it, she nearly floored Ms Keene with the vigour of her hand-action.”

As you may have noticed, we’re slap bang in the middle of press the flesh season with calloused palms obviously affecting the remaining Presidential candidates. But it’s the messages espoused by our current crop of candidates and how they present it that’s the most interesting from an Web writing / marketing perspective.

The only thing harder than a political sell is an online sell. In the same way people accuse Barack Obama of being all words and no substance, the same goes for any Web site.

You see, it’s all about the words you use to connect with your audience. Or, to be more precise, the use of personal pronouns. People want to feel included. They also want to know what the candidate will do for them. Likewise, visitors to your Website want to feel included and will want to know how you can benefit them and solve their problems. They want to be ‘Obama’d’.

Nobody in their right mind is going to vote for a candidate who proclaims that it’s all about them and how great they are. And nobody’s going to like you much as a business either. They don’t want to be ‘Hillary’d’.

In a nutshell, can you present your case in a way that embodies the needs of your customer? Does your Website reflect a You/Your paradigm as opposed to an I/We one?

Does the reader feel a connection with what you’re saying or are they simply reading it for a few brief seconds?

Your Website should inform, connect, inspire and solve problems. And it needs to be written and structured as such.

Then again, I suppose you could just have “Yes, we can!” emblazoned across the top of your site and hope for the best.

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