Nice to Know We’ve Still Got Whuffie

It’s year-end, and that means it’s time for the annual flood of top 10 lists. Imagine my surprise (and delight) when I saw that The Virtual Handshake had made honorable mention (just outside the top 10 – looks like about #16 if he listed them in order) on Chris Tomkins’ Best Social Media Books of 2009. Chris’ methodology was simple:

Since many of us (yes, I know you are out there) are still looking for the best book on social well as those last minute gift ideas, I wanted to publish the results of a study that I held via my friends and social media connections on Linkedin and Facebook.  I polled over 5,000 people and simply asked “What’s the best book on social media out there.”

Now here’s what I found both fascinating and, frankly, a bit pride-inducing: every other title on the list came out in 2008-2009. The Virtual Handshake came out in 2005!

When we wrote it, we very deliberately set out to write a book that would be timeless, not something with a 2-year shelf life. Considering how rapidly the social media space is changing, that’s a significant challenge.

Consider this. when we finished the manuscript, the term “social media” didn’t exist. “Web 2.0” was just barely coming into use at the time the book came out. We called the activity “online networking” and the technology “social software”. Twitter didn’t exist. Facebook had just opened to the general public, much to the chagrin of its college-student membership. LinkedIn had about 3 million members (it now has over 50 million).

And yet, almost five years later, The Virtual Handshake is still considered by some to be one of the best books on social media. While we don’t even mention Twitter and Facebook is only mentioned once, it’s as timely and relevant now as it was in 2005 – perhaps even more so.


Because we focused on the human element, not the technology. Trends come and go, and technology just keeps coming and coming and coming. But the core elements of human relationships and interpersonal communication remain largely unchanged. The ways in which you build strong relationships online aren’t really much different from how you do so in person. Twitter etiquette in 2010 hasn’t changed significantly from Usenet netiquette in 1990. Ben Franklin’s advice on recommendations is as timely now as it was when he wrote it in 1777.

So if you’re into social media and you haven’t yet read The Virtual Handshake, I invite you to do so.for free. You can read it online or download it for free, and you can even get the paperback for free, thanks to our long-time sponsor, Landslide. And, of course, you can still order it at Amazon and other online bookstores.

And whether you’ve just read it or had it for a while, we’d always love to hear from you about how you’ve applied what you’ve learned from it in your business. The hundreds of such messages we’ve received over the years have perhaps been our greatest satisfaction. We wrote this book to make a difference in people’s lives, and it’s always nice to hear when we’ve succeeded at that. Feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email and tell us your virtual handshake experience.