Traditionally, a “Meet and Greet” has been understood as an organized, but informal event generally reserved for those in the limelight like politicians and performers in order to socialize with members of the press, invited guests or the general public. Most recently, the term “Meet and Greet” has broadened to include the initial meetings of the hiring process, online dating, physician selecting and airport pick-up service. Search for “Meet and Greet” on Wikipedia, however, and you will be redirected to Public Relations (PR)— a profession still associated with large organizations or famous individuals. Search for “Meet and Greet” in the JAYEzine and you will be introduced to Andi Clay, a PR Specialist who has expanded the “Meet and Greet” beyond the VIP (Very Important Person) to the common man (like you and me).

Meet Andi Clay. Through IMURJ, her boutique publicity business, Andi has creatively found a way to offer PR products and services to everyday people by enlightening potential clients on the “meat and bones” of PR which fundamentally is a strategic communication process intended to build a mutually beneficial relationship between two parties. When ordinary people understand the basics of PR, they can utilize the principles and skills that corporations and celebrities use and apply it to their everyday lives. This is important because whether we realize it or not we are in constant communication with ourselves and those around us. It would make sense that we would take the necessary steps to ensure that we communicate effectively in every aspect of our lives. Andi assists others with this particularly through her creation and presentation of The Handshake Experience.

In describing The Handshake Experience, Andi says, “It goes beyond your typical workshop; it is an experience, hence the name. Its conception was based on the old adage, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ Though that has been ingrained in us, over the years, at least from an Americanized standpoint, greeting others has become more lax. We are not taught to make it count or celebrate the importance of it. The Handshake Experience is an event that revives the significance of the greeting and emphasizes the handshake as an experience all its own. Some of our most awkward moments are the handshake moments— the time and events that follow a greeting that starts off as 5 seconds or 30 minutes, but is ongoing and lasts much longer. It is a moment that can make or break a meeting. Therefore, we should use it to our advantage to make better connections and more memorable first moments.”

Andi states what an attendee can expect from The Handshake Experience. “The Handshake Experience is a two hour intensive workshop with an ideal amount of 25 participants that has never met before. Food is served during the event. The food itself is important because many first impressions take place over food. You know many people go to events for free food and use that time to take a break from the work at hand, but with The Handshake Experience the interactions during the meals are an integral part of the work itself. We use a variety of tools, exercises, interactive games and role playing that assesses character and personality in order to define ourselves within the scope of what we do. This is key to seeing better results with our behavior around others. Ultimately, we want to demonstrate a personality or character that’s genuine to the self so that we have positive experiences from initial contact— the meeting point— onward.”

Andi further explains who would benefit from The Handshake Experience. “Whether in business, job searching, professional promotion or personal advancement, this event is for anyone and everyone looking to create a memorable impact on the influential people they meet. A good example would be a job seeker who has the daunting task of making himself stand out among hundreds, if not thousands, of candidates lined up for the same position. The Handshake Experience is going to help Joe Shmoe distinguish himself among those other candidates and make a lasting impression that will place him higher in the ranking order or bring him closer to that ideal job.” She goes on to say that The Handshake Experience is also good for those who want to learn how to salvage a first greeting “gone bad.” She addresses the faux pas of interpersonal interactions. “This goes back to the importance of knowing yourself and being confident in who you are. We have activities that help examine why one failed to connect with the person they were meeting and how to reengage interest. An example is a salesperson that was unable to impress a potential customer with his product knowledge, but might be able to facilitate an opportunity to make a better second impression by connecting in a more personable manner.”

In the midst of discussing The Handshake Experience, Andi recalls early memories of “Meet and Greet” techniques. She says she remembers the college application process in high school and being trained and prepared for interviews and other first greetings. “We were told to make eye contact and have a firm handshake. However, with today’s technological advancements, we don’t always make first impressions while meeting someone face-to-face. Whether it is an old-fashioned cold call or we’re connecting via digital means, the rules of first impressions remain.” If you’re looking online for your next job or your next date, Andi can show you how to use your virtual image to get the best response from the people you meet. “What you’re ultimately doing is creating a digital identity, but that starts simply with updating your profile. Depending on what type of website you’re on, this may contain different information; but the main objective is to reach the intended audience. You do this by tapping into specific characteristic within yourself and leverage them to establish a connection between you and the digital audience. Whether it’s television viewing habits or a favorite movie, people bond over relationships with characters or reality show personalities. Your preferences resonate with other people. You’re moved by the same thing, a shared interest. This is a good starting point to build a relationship.” It is also a good place to introduce boundaries.

Since safety and privacy is an extremely important issue in meeting people for the first time both online and offline, Andi talks about how she handles the topic. “During The Handshake Experience event, we define goals, purpose and interests which are important in creating personal boundaries because it starts with you. It begins with knowing who you are and what you need to communicate. You are the first person to draw the line in the sand. Then it is up to you to decide whether or not that person can cross it. You’ve gained the interest, but you want to have boundaries established beforehand. We also help participants understand they are attempting to connect with influential people, but they must be able to identify them. An influential person is relative to your goal. That doesn’t mean it’s a person with a lot of money or fame. It’s not about who has the robust personality or is fashionably posh or knowledgeable of the latest trend. It is someone who is willing and able to partner with you to move you closer to your goal. They have resources and provide follow through.”

When it comes to getting breakthrough for your business, brand, product personal or professional profile, what makes Andi Clay THE influential person with whom to meet and greet? “Here is where my gloves come off. I believe I’m qualified to help others because I am someone who has failed miserably, frequently, in front of the wrong people, for a very long time and that has to account for something, right? At the same time, I noticed people who seemed to have this innate success at meeting people. So after failing miserably frequently, I had to stop and figure out what I was doing wrong and what these other people were doing right. I studied them, watched their behaviors, listened to how they presented themselves and incorporated what I learned. I personalized it and practiced it. Thus, The Handshake Experience was born.” That was her genuinely humble response; but I can tell you that for over ten years, Andi Clay has acquired an expertise in communicating with people of all walks of life by building her career in corporate and legal offices and has a working knowledge of four different languages. She is available to work with individuals and companies at developing an authentic image from the inside out to become more prominent in their field of interest.

For more information on Andi Clay, IMURJ and The Handshake Experience visit https://www.facebook.com/The-Handshake-Experience-287247654800573/timeline/?notif_t=fbpage_fan_invite

Remember to Journey Above Your Expectations  




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