President's Message Dec 2019/Jan 2020

Networking is such a big part of developing our careers; however, it’s something that often gets overlooked or just brushed off as socializing.  In my last message, I spoke about how great the people in our industry are.

We all have so much in common which makes networking much easier. For someone on the outside, a couple of people talking passionately about turf probably seems somewhat funny, but to us, it’s interesting and important. I’ve been able to learn a great deal by simply just “talking turf” with other turf managers.  This informal learning process is so important to help us gain new perspectives and develop a network of support. 

For many people, walking up to a stranger and initiating conversation can be very difficult. I’ve found the easiest way is to gather some courage and just walk up, give a good handshake and introduce yourself.  The conversation will begin to flow from there.  But what about this handshake thing?  There are definitely good handshakes and bad handshakes.  A handshake is often your best chance at a good first impression, so you want to make sure you do it well.  I don’t claim to be an expert at this, in fact, I’m probably average at best.  But I wanted to put forward a guideline to a good handshake.  It’s something that seems so simple, yet can leave a lasting impression and help us break the ice and help us really get networking. 

Step 1: This is the basics. Give a good firm handshake. There’s no such thing as squeezing too hard, so if you're in doubt, squeeze harder than you think you need to. Side note: if you are a man shaking a woman's hand, you should try for a “gentleman like squeeze”  or to match the grip of the woman shaking your hand… we definitely don't want any broken bones.  An over firm handshake is preferable to “the dead fish” where people don’t squeeze at all. A firm handshake tells the person that you are a firm person and that you are in fact, happy to meet them. 

Step 2: Look the person in the eye. If you can master this, you’re doing great. Making eye contact shows the person that you are genuine and interested in getting to know them. This is also a good opportunity to smile and introduce yourself.

Step 3: Repeat their name when they introduce themselves. One of the toughest things for most people is remembering people's names. Especially for us when often it's once a year at the conference and trade show where we see each other and we are meeting so many new people all at the same time. Repeating the person’s name and saying “nice to meet you, John” is a good tactic to get outside of your own head while you focus on giving that good handshake. So many times I’ve forgotten someone's name immediately after meeting them because I’ve just been so focused on steps 1 and 2. I’ve found that repeating their name helps.

Step 4: Shake their hand in an up and down movement. Pretty simple, I think this just might be where the term “handshake” actually comes from, but I’ll have to do some more research and get back to you on that one. Not many people actually do the shake anymore, but it’s a good move to really show someone your enthusiasm.

Step 5: If you can master steps 1 to 3 you can sometimes skip step 4 and move right to step 5. This is where the standard handshake goes next level and becomes more of an art. Step 5 is: Be the last to let go. This shows the person that you are not only happy to meet them, but already comfortable in their presence. It’s a subtle power move that shows them that you are a “next level” kind of person. But beware, you may run into another person also making this move and get dead locked in a very long handshake!

Step 6: This step is optional and only advised if you have already met the person, or for some reason need to make a strong impression. Step 6 is like the final boss in Super Mario. If you can master this, you are the handshake master. Step 6 is where you pull the person's hand toward you. When you pull their hand, their arm and body will follow. Donald Trump is well known for this. You might remember the famous handshake battle between Trump and Trudeau, in which neither would relinquish their grasp. This move combined with a firm grip, eye contact, and holding on for an extended shake, shows that you are a very assertive and confident person. But be careful, this step can be somewhat intimidating if used in the wrong circumstances, so use only when appropriate. I have never attempted this step myself, but might try it once I master steps 1 to 5. I think I’m still working on nailing down step 3.

I hope that these handshake steps and tips can help us all feel more confident to break the ice and to put ourselves out there to meet new people and improve our networking opportunities. The upcoming Conference and Trade Show this February 11 to 13 at the River Rock Casino and Resort will be a great time to try to level up your handshake game and to build your support network by meeting and chatting with the great people in our industry. Get out there, meet some new people, and learn as much as you can from each other. I like to think that a stranger in the turf industry is just a friend I haven't met yet.

Hope to see you all in February!

Travis Olson
WCTA President