Book Report: The Virtual Handshake
What changed my way of thinking was reading David Teten and Scott Allen's excellent book The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors And Closing Deals Online. Since then, I've broadened my network far beyond what I had before and did so from the comfort of my desk (and one trip to a Chipotle in Austin, TX). While I'm not exactly ready to leave HP over this epiphany, I'm involved in a lot of things I wasn't before that have opened side opportunities that weren't possible with my previous mindset.
The book opens with a discussion of what your personal network really is and comprised of. David and Scott break this down into 7 key pieces (I paraphrase their work below):
- Character - Your integrity, clarity of motives, consistency of behavior, openness, discretion, and trustworthiness.
- Competence - Your ability to walk your talk; your demonstrated capability.
- Relevance - The Acquaintance's value to you, defied as their ability to contribute to your goals.
- Information - Data that you have about the Acquaintance.
- Strength - The closeness of the relationship, broadly grouped as strong or weak.
- Number -How many people you have in your list of ties (family, close friends, people you've worked with a long time) and weak ones (everybody else).
- Diversity - Heterogeneity of your network by geography, profession, industry, and hierarchical position.
The remainder of the book explains different ways to expand improve your network using virtual tools (hence the title). There's a section on social software that covers things like email lists, social networking sites, virtual communities, and blogs. My favorite of these, and a focus of Scott's now with his website LinkedIntelligence.com, pointed me to LinkedIn. I had a LinkedIn profile for awhile, but I wasn't really doing anything with it. Using advice from the book I found old college friends, people who had left HP and started their own thriving businesses, and even people inside HP I simply hadn't thought about in a long, long time.
The my other favorite part entitled "You Are the Virtual You"gives great advice on how to present yourself online to maximize effectiveness. Specifically, the discussion of signatures was enlightening for me. I had been signing posts in discussion groups or comments on others blogs with:
I then graduated to:
Before finally realizing that this was much better:
HP.com Chief Architect
Personal Blog: http://nerdguru.net
The first signature says nothing and, accordingly, did nothing for me. The second one gave me some base blog traffic when I wrote something decent on blog comments and discussion groups. On one techie site in particular, I saw a 10-fold increase in traffic to my blog when I changed from the second version to the third based on the credibility my job title gives me that I wasn't exposing before.
Those are the biggest things I took away from The Virtual Handshake, but there's plenty of other suggestions in there that anybody can use to their advantage. We live in an increasingly virtual world and being able to navigate it effectively to maximize opportunities in your real world existence is something everyone can use.
Labels: Book Reports