Chris Sargisson of Norfolk Chamber: There’s more to the humble handshake than you think...

Chris Sargisson, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce new chief executive.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Chris Sargisson, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce new chief executive.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Chris Sargisson, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, on why the benefit of making a human connection shouldn't be overlooked.

Customs and traditions come and go, but no matter how much things change, no matter how digital our communications become, the fact is that the start and finish of any meeting is a handshake.

We humans are about 65% oxygen by mass; the remaining 35% is way more complicated and rooted in chemicals and chemical reactions.

It's 35 years since I sat my chemistry GCSE (which I failed by the way) so I can't really expand on that with too much authority but here's my point.

Apparently one of those chemicals is a neurochemical that engenders feelings of trust and respect. And it's released through physical contact…like a good handshake.

There's actually a definition of a good handshake. It's when the webbing between the thumb and finger connects. (That webbing is called the 'purlicue' – I didn't do too well in biology either but I remember that). It's that connection which avoids awkward 'finger grabbing' behaviour. What's needed is a good firm grip.

But there's more to that word connection than the technique of hand shaking isn't there? The fact is that handshakes can only happen if we meet up with each other. Not when we e-mail, or even Skype or Face Time, but when we actually get together. In person.

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It's interesting to reflect on this quote: 'Handshakes and hugs will always trump 'likes' and 'shares'.'

Sounds like good common sense anyway, but when you realise that it was said by CC Chapman who made his fortune by building The Advance Guard, a marketing company which put all its focus and efforts into using social media and emerging technology, you realise just how profound it is.

In other words, even those whose business model is based on digital communication realise that nothing beats real human contact when it comes to forming commercial relationships and doing business.

At the Chamber we have a mission statement: 'To connect, support and give voice to every Norfolk business'. To make that happen we need to ensure that the network between businesses grows. That they get together. Our objective is to double, triple, quadruple, octuple (yes – that is a real word; I did better in maths) handshakes across Norfolk.

Our mission to achieve that started in West Norfolk last week at a Chamber lunch, with over 100 new businesses attending. It was an opportunity for business people to meet, share ideas and connect.

Connect. It can be digital, of course. But, to release that chemical, and engender feelings of trust and respect, it must be human!

And those feelings of trust and respect are the foundations on which business relationships are built.

Relationships grow into networks, and through that we'll be able to 'connect, support and give voice to every Norfolk business'.

Let's make this happen. Shake on it?