From Awkward to Awesome: Turning a Missed Handshake into a Networking Win

Andrea Zanon Confidente
3 min readMar 22, 2024
https://andreazanon.co/

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!

Seriously, this just happened to me a few days ago. I went to a Venture Capitalist small gathering, and before taking off I went to thank the organizer and the fund manager. I reached out with my hand to shake hand with the Fund Manager. And guess what? The person did not reciprocate and I stood silent feeling awkward in this moment of uncomfortable silence.

As I woke off the venue, I felt angry, offended, and humiliated. However, as I dwelled on the accident, I realized I did what I had to do, I tried to meet the leaders, and it does not go so well. As soon as I got home, I started writing this blog seeking to share some of the lessons that came out of this failed handshake.

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

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Andrea Zanon Confidente

Performance advisor with over 20 years experience across entrepreneurship, sustainability and partnership. Now focusing helping people investing in themselves