Two shakes then let go.
In the western culture, two shakes of someone’s hand are considered proper. Less shows a lack of confidence and more gets a little creepy.
Should I shake with one hand or two?
That depends on how well you know the person. When meeting for the first time, it is proper to shake with one hand. The other hand should be out of your pocket and hanging comfortably by your side. Many people consider it improper to have your other hand in your pocket while shaking. It can be thought of as symbolic of hiding something or being disingenuous.
The closer you are to the other person, the more of your body you can share with them. For instance, shake with both of your hands clasped around theirs for someone you have begun to get to know well. Move your free hand further up the arm to the elbow or shoulder for very good friends. Hugs can be appropriate for close friends, relatives, or lovers.
I know there are some people out there who love to hug everyone, but be cautious…not everyone loves to be hugged by strangers and that can be a real turn-off in certain business settings. It is better to be conservative when first meeting and respect personal space.
This all works well for the western culture. If you are networking with Asians, like I do, the protocols can be very different and it’s important to understand boundaries. A good book on the subject for international business leaders is ‘Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands’.
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If you would like to know more about networking, contact me. I’m available to be your Wingman at networking events.