Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Virtual Handshake

Over a month ago, David Teten emailed me and asked me to review a new book he co-wrote with Scott Allen: “The Virtual Handshake”. I usually get a dozen email requests per week, mostly press release about some obscure IT company announcing some technical breakthrough or the water conservation board of North Dakota launching a blog. I usually bin them (with all due respect), or if in a bad mood, I reply with an appropriate: “who cares?” But I was enticed by the offer of a free book and David’s email wasn’t the usual hard sell, anonymous stuff I learned to discard in my newfound blogging minor celebrity.

I accepted and received the book 2 weeks later. I felt obliged to read it.

To my relief,”The Virtual Handshake” is not another “Let’s talk about Kryptonite” story. In fact, it is not about blogging but about networking, both face-2-face and online (although the emphasis is on the latter).

It starts by explaining the values of networks and how they have been, and increasingly are instrumental to individual and group success. It then provides with a practical, step-by-step guide on how to build a credible virtual self, build-up a network and sustain it. I found that David and Scott Allen really worked hard to cover all means of connection, including instant messaging, social software, email, company alumni…and of course blogs.

Because the book tries to cover everything associated with networking, readers more familiar with the topic might find it sometimes pedantic. I also find that advice on how to use networks for marketing purpose (from a business pow) a bit light. Nonetheless, the book drives good points regarding sales (don’t sell but help other buy and value relations for their long term benefits instead of going for a quick shot). It is packed with practical advice, I enjoyed reading it, I learned a few things on the way and I plan to put some of its recommendations in practice. Good reference book for anyone interested in the “how to do it” side of networking. You can read more about the book here and make up your own mind.

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