From a handshake to a hug


In everyday life we meet new people – whether it is in your work life or your social life, these encounters usually use some form of communication.

It could be a simple smile or an acknowledging nod of the head, maybe some quick chit chat or it could all be from behind a screen. Either way these could all be seen as a type of relationship which sometimes can develop into nothing. Think about your daily commute to work and that one person you pass everyday. You might acknowledge them with a smile, a nod or some awkward eye contact but have you actually ever spoken to them? Funny thing is because we are creatures of habit and our daily routines happen like clock work these brief meetings have probably been reoccurring for years. (Just like Bill Murrays bad hair day in Groundhog Day!)

This led me to think about similar situations in my own life and how I choose to deal with them and not deal with them.

Everyday I take the same walk to work and pass the same people but there is one person I pass at the same spot around the same time, nearing the end of my commute. We acknowledge each other with the same half smile and I find myself thinking isn’t that so strange?

We are polite enough to acknowledge each other but not enough to actually speak! Even though in your mind you do the whole imaginary “Hey, how are you?” Then why are we so different in our work environments?

This is mainly because of the environment it takes place in. Meeting new people, taking part in conversations and building relationships is all part of your work life and it aids in your progression and helps build the foundations for your career, so as you can be your best at your job. As daunting as this can sometimes be, it forces you out of your comfort zone and into new challenges – this is a good thing I swear!

So where am I going with this you might be wondering?

I am going to use the above nonsense to make reference to my job! Working within the communications industry you are given the opportunity to develop work relationships with lots of different people – the media, your clients and potential clients.

These relationships all form in different ways and use a different etiquette. Take the media for instance. Initial contact the majority of the time is made via phone or email.

Let’s focus on the email – The first email is a formal introduction using Dear and Kind regards. As the email exchange becomes more frequent the formalities lessen and slowly your email signature begins to lose characters, until your name is simply an abbreviation of itself. (I go by ‘A’ now and for any ‘Pretty Little Liars’ fans out there that’s kind of scary!) While this might be seen as bad it is really a good result and shows that a positive relationship is forming which allows you to do your job better and can increase your chances of achieving the results you need for your clients.

On the other hand you have your clients; this relationship must always be a professional one whether it is an existing or a potential client.

But don’t forget to be yourself – this is important and helps when building a personal and trustworthy relationship with the client, so as they know you have their best interests at heart.

With a client your professional mannerisms are demonstrated in all email and phone correspondence as well as face-to-face. Part of being a good public relations professional is being able to adapt in different social environments so as your client feels at ease and comfortable. Whether this is at meetings, grabbing a coffee or at a business lunch/dinner this can only benefit your relationship – They need to know that you get this!

For me this is all about that first face-to-face meeting.

Take into account that you may not have been the main point of contact for the client and you have more than likely exchanged countless emails and had quite a few phone conversations without ever meeting. Maybe they only know you by the little profile picture that travels with your emails?!

Eventually the day arrives and you are about to put a face to the name and the voice at the end of the phone and you think how funny it is that this situation can make you feel as nervous as a first date – Awkward!

In walks the client, you share a formal handshake and then that feeling of relief sets in and you chose to use the auld reliable, “It’s great to put a face to the name” line.  This not surprisingly gets a giggle and settles the mood. These happenings are all part of the process and help to bind a solid understanding and business relationship between you and your clients.

It makes it easier when you need to ask for something, gives you the comfort of knowing your boundaries and vice versa for your client. This once again is a good thing!

The meeting comes to an end, there’s been some laughter but mostly business but on exit the handshake turns to a brief hug and a kind “It was lovely to finally meet you” SUCCESS!

You achieved what you set out to do, cement the relationship and build up trust with the person behind the screen or phone that you speak to on a daily basis by simply bringing it from ‘A Handshake to a Hug!

Arlene Foy, Fuzion PR, Marketing Graphic Design, DublinArlene

Arlene Foy is a PR Executive with Fuzion in our Dublin offices.

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