May 30, 2015

Want Respect? Be Prepared, Informed, and Have a Firm Handshake

I read a Business Insider article, "9 Proven Ways To Get People To Take You Seriously," written by Drake Baer. Based on my business experience, I completely agree with Mr. Baer's opening paragraph: "If you're going to get anywhere in business, you need people to take you seriously." Mr. Baer continues to say that "according to the research, you can increase your credibility with the right presentation, knowledge, and people skills." While each one of the nine items outlined in the article is important in garnering respect, I have a particular appreciation for being prepared, informed, and having a firm handshake.

Be Ridiculously Prepared

I concur with Mr. Baer that "you need to develop a ridiculously deep knowledge of your subject area." Having a deep knowledge of your subject area will quickly establish respect. However, it is important not to speak too technical about your subject area to the point that people are unable to understand the message you are trying to convey. For example, I have a personal and professional interest in health technology, but I do not possess a technical background in this subject area. I gain respect for people who are able to explain something technical in a plain-speaking manner that makes it easy for me to understand.

I also take great pride that my colleagues and I extensively prepare for each and every meeting. We spend considerable amounts of time visiting the LinkedIn profiles and social media pages of the people whom we are scheduled to meet. In addition, we perform a comprehensive review of the company's website. If the company is publicly-traded, we will read many of the regulatory filings and reports. One important result of being prepared by performing in-depth research is developing relationships with those individuals, which is essential to business success. Understanding the interests of those whom you are meeting with is a key element to relationship-building.

Conversely, I expect those whom I am about to meet will have performed the appropriate research including visiting my LinkedIn profile or reading my bio located on ROI3, Inc.'s website, reviewing my blog, and visiting the Twitter pages belonging to me and ROI3.

Know What's Going on in the World

In Mr. Baer's article, he says that "if you work in business, then 'be up to speed on changes in your industry so that you can speak about them intelligently,'" quoting Roberta Chinsky Matuson, the author of Suddenly in Charge. This, along with "reading business news daily 'so you can speak intelligently on business matters,' is great advice. I strongly recommend becoming a regular viewer of "Nightly Business Report" (NBR) and "PBS Newshour," as well as a reader of The Economist.

Master the Handshake

While it is the final point of this post, the handshake is often the moment when first impressions are made. Having a weak handshake may convey an impression that you lack confidence, which is not a good way to gain respect. On the other hand (no pun intended), a handshake that is too strong may reflect that you want to dominate the business relationship. A proper handshake shows that you are paying respect to the person you are talking to. As Mr. Baer notes, "Giving respect gets respect."

How to execute the perfect handshake?
  1. Meet hands with your shaking partner, but do not grab yet;
  2. Wait until the web between your thumbs and index fingers meets the other person's;
  3. Grab firmly, but not overbearingly (and do not forget to make eye contact and smile).
What recommendations do you have about gaining respect?

Aaron Rose is a co-founder of great companies and advisor to talented entrepreneurs. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

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