The Virtual Handshake – Building an online business presence

14 Nov

On the recommendation of a friend, I’ve been reading, “The Virtual Handshake” by David Tetten and Scott Allen.  It’s an interesting mix of research into online networking and practical steps to improve your online networking experience.

They suggest that how you build relationships has not changed since the days of networking via face-to-face and email.  What’s changed is the medium in which you network – now it’s primarily the web. I think that while the web is important, it’s primary purpose is to enhance your face-to-face networking, not replace it.

The book focuses on their 7 keys to building and maintaining an effective online network.  I think these steps would be just as applicable in building an effective in-person network.

  • Your Character – what other people think about you.  It’s your reputation
  • Competence – do you walk your talk?
  • Relevance – how relevant is your network to your networking goals?
  • Relationship strengths – how strong is your tie to the people in your network?
  • Information you know about the people in your network – parallel to the strength of your ties is how much non-published information do you know about the people in your network?
  • Number of people in your network – both your direct and two-degrees-away network
  • Diversity – the more heterogeneous your network the better it can help you

The authors believe that social networking software allows you to have the best of both worlds, a large quantity of high-quality connections.  While I don’t agree with this sentiment, as I wrote here, I do concur with their sentiments that successful networkers focus on what they can give you and not what you can give them.

All in all, a good book to read.  Especially if you are looking for a how-to book on building a sustainable and positive online presence.


3 Responses to “The Virtual Handshake – Building an online business presence”

  1. Bryan Bliss November 17, 2008 at 2:59 am #

    One of the best networking and rapport building opportunities for online businesses is in sharing digital only downloadable information products.
    The cost is low to create,
    there need not be any shipping or fulfillment costs and
    It is easy to test the market.
    Being an expert or passionate about almost any HOW-to, or why
    can translate into a profitable product line.

    It can be an incredible branding tool for business to share too,
    with such a low cost of production and a
    high perceived value.
    Showing how and why you do your specialty can
    be educational and present your
    business as an industry leader.
    Whether an info product is used as a gesture of gratitude, or as a profit center when
    some income streams are slowing in
    todays economy, it is a valuable addition to any marketers toolkit for profits.
    thanks and take care,
    Bryan Bliss

  2. Scott Allen November 17, 2008 at 4:47 am #

    Glad you’re enjoying the book, Michael. When it came out in 2005, we were afraid we were late with it — now I think we were early! It seems that now people are discovering more than ever that the hard part about social networking are the soft skills, not the mechanics of using the sites.

    @Bryan – sharing downloadable info products is a good relationship-builder, if used as such. We actually make The Virtual Handshake available for free download:

    Fortunately for us, turns out a lot of people buy it anyway. 🙂 But it’s still been a great goodwill builder.

  3. Michael Kreppein November 17, 2008 at 3:35 pm #


    Thanks for commenting and putting a link to your free download for our readers (I bought the book anyway!). I see a pendulum swing with social networking sites as they’ve made it so easy to connect with so many people that the quality has gone down. I hear people saying, “Oh, they’re my Facebook friend” insinuating that online friends are worth less than “real” friends. So you are spot-on about the soft skills of networking being the hard part. Technology makes it more efficient but you need a working process to start with!

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