Launching The Virtual Handshake Company

I’m pleased today to announce the launch of The Virtual Handshake company.

When we published The Virtual Handshake book in 2005, we were on the leading edge of what’s now known as social media marketing. We envisioned then what has now come to pass: social becoming a ubiquitous channel like the telephone, mail, television, radio, and email before it. And along with that, an entire ecosystem of specialized products and services: technology, education, strategy, implementation, content creation, and outsourced engagement management.

But in 2005, the market wasn’t ready for all that. Now it is.

Our initial offering is consulting services focused on social strategy and social technology. We’ve been doing this since 2002. We’ve worked with Fortune 10 companies, mid-market companies, and major social media platforms, on down to startups and solo professionals. We have a unique framework for social media strategy based on our book. We also have 10+ years of experience working with social listening and social data on a massive scale. We bring that expertise to mid-market and growing businesses that are running into the challenges of scaling their social media operations.

In short, we do social at scale.

Coming in 2020, watch for:

  • Educational programs, focused on leveraging online networks based on your business role: social selling, relationship marketing, finding a job, business development, finding employees, and more.
  • The Virtual Handshake podcast, featuring our insights into social strategy and technology and interviews with industry leaders.
  • The Virtual Handshake 2020, a revisit of our ground-breaking book, updated for 2020, on our blog.

For updates, follow our blog and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

We look forward to exploring the next phase of the social web with you.

Redesign of and

Assembling a WordPress Website

My mother and I met Daniella Norwood, the owner of ella j designs, and her husband Brian Bigda at a Lean Startup Machine weekend at which I was a judge.  She did a great job redesigning my mother’s site,, so I hired her to do a redesign of and  I’d love your feedback on the site.   I definitely recommend hiring Danni for your WordPress needs.

Enter Danni:

David’s RFP included:

  • upgrading and to the latest version of WordPress,
  • modernising the design of both sites,
  • making both sites mobile and social-media friendly,
  • changing the commenting system from DISQUS to Livefyre (ff Venture Capital portfolio company),
  • migrating from AWeber to MailChimp, and
  • fixing some existing errors.
Here are what the sites used to look like.

Original Site: Teten

Original Site: The Virtual Handshake

A New Website Design

While I am “a creative type”, I am not a graphics designer. I prefer looking at the WordPress Codex than color palettes. Instead of spending hours upon hours searching through all the wonderful themes that are available, I decided to use the eleven40 theme from because of its responsiveness and modern design for both sites. I have been using StudioPress for a long time and love the Genesis framework and the beautifully designed child themes. They also have great support in their forums and an active development community.

We changed the color scheme of to green, in order to match the color scheme of Besides the color change, the biggest change to was the homepage layout and using it to feature the lastest blog posts.

New Website Functionality

The first thing I did was create a development site running the current version of WordPress (the original site was running 2.8) and import the xml file. Next was to set up the theme layout and create the main navigation. Once that was set, I added the plugins and configured the settings.

WordPress continues to improve and a lot has changed since the 2.8 version. Because of added functionality I was able to remove a lot of plugins such as Advanced Permalinks, Page Link To, and Plugin Manager. Since StudioPress has built in SEO, I was able to remove other plugins like SEO Title Tags and All In One SEO.

David wanted to focus on newsletter sign up and social media integration. In addition to the sign-up forms on the sidebar and footer, we added OptinSkin to the ends of the posts to integrate the signup with social media. This was my first time using OptinSkin and I really liked how easy it was to customize and the variety of options that are available.

Being mobile-friendly was also a main consideration and in addition to using a responsive theme, we also added advertismentWPtouchPro to the plugin mix since David had already purchased this. While WPtouch is a great plugin, the Pro version is worth it to really customize the user’s experience.

The Final Product, Two Redesigned Websites

The whole process was made easier since David had very detailed requirements. Some of the problems with the old site, such as inconsistent headers and problematic spacing, were easily fixed just by switching themes and upgrading WP.

We did run into some trouble with the content of the posts and pages. I was not able to copy the original database due to an error with the size of the database, so I used the xml file downloaded from the original site. I found this to be a good option especially since the old database was not UTF-8 encoded.

As a final touch, I introduced David to ManageWP, so he can more easily manage his WordPress sites. I just started using ManageWP and so far it has worked out really well. It is a great service with fantastic customer support.

I would love to hear any feedback.

Daniella Norwood

ella j designs

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.

Free Pass for 2009 Sales & Marketing Symposium: Winning Customers in the Era of Social Media

I look forward to attending Liminal Group’s 2009 Sales & Marketing Symposium, a half-day morning taking place next Wednesday, March 25, 2009 from 9am to 12pm, at Asia Society, 725 Park, NY. I have one complimentary pass provided by Liminal Group —if you’d like it, write in the comments (preferred) or mail me to indicate why you would benefit from a free pass.”

Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Time: 8:00am – 12:00pm EST
Location: Asia Society
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021


Penelope Trunk, author, Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success .

Paul Greenberg, author, CRM at the Speed of Light: Essential Customer Strategies for the 21st Century, President, The 56 Group, LLC; founding partner of CRM training company, BPT Partners, LLC. At the end of 2007, he was the #1 non-vendor influencer, by InsideCRM in their annual “25 Most Influential CRM People” announcement. He was also named one of the most influential CRM leaders in 2008 by CRM Magazine.

David van Toor, General Manager for Sage’s CRM group.

New York Events: Best Practices of Venture Capitalists in Identifying Investment Opportunities

I’m starting to release the findings from the large research study I’ve been leading on “Best Practices of Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Firms in Identifying Private Company Investment Opportunities”. My colleagues from Evalueserve and I have interviewed over 100 venture capitalists and private equity investors for this study.

I have two speaking engagements coming up in New York where I’ll be discussing our findings. I hope that you can attend! Of course, I welcome feedback/discussion.

Feb. 19, 6:30pm: Israeli Business Forum
1500 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York, NY

Feb. 24, 6:30pm: MIT Enterprise Forum,
100 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY

Among the issues I’ll discuss:
– How are you positioning yourself to become a company`s preferred investor?
– In the current tough climate, how can you lower your deal origination costs?
– What does research on deal-origination indicate are the primary sources of deal flow for institutional investors?
– What are you doing to identify companies that might be interested in being approached?
– What are the earmarks of a potential investment opportunity?
– How are you systematically identifying industries/situations in which you may be able to create new companies, rather than find existing companies?
– How do you increase your inflow of useful referrals?
– What is the best way to make warm cold calls?

I have attached the draft slides below:

Nerd Guru Reviews The Virtual Handshake Chief Architect Pete Johnson, who I met here in Austin a couple of months ago, has posted a review of The Virtual Handshake on his blog (also made the front page of TechDispenser).

Pete was particularly taken with our “7 Keys to a Powerful Network” framework, which triggered one of those ah-hah moments for him:

This is all covered in the first two chapters of the book, but I spend a lot of time on it here because it not only provides a framework for the other chapters, but when I applied this analysis on my own career it had a pretty profound effect on me. What I realized was that I had a bigger network than I thought I did, despite never actively “networking” per se. However, I had pretty pitiful diversity outside my employer of the last 14 years.

You can see more of my thoughts on networking for nerds over at Linked Intelligence.

Evalueserve acquires Nitron Circle of Experts

Evalueserve Ltd.I’m happy to report that Evalueserve has acquired Nitron Advisors. I originally met with some of the senior management at EVS because I was recruiting them to consult for some clients. That conversation led to another conversation, and another, which led to an offer, which led to an acquisition. I plan to continue running Nitron with my partner Scott Lichtman, now with a much larger platform in the emerging markets.

Evalueserve has been a rocket ship of a company, and a perfect fit for our long-term strategy for Nitron. Both our clients and our experts will benefit from this relationship. Clients will get access to the largest knowledge process outsourcing company, with 1,800 people in India, China, and Chile. Experts will see increased consultation volume from a wide range of clients.

We have already launched an Indian expert network, which should be of particular interest to any readers who are investing or doing business in India. We have also launched a Media Source Center, a service to provide a very small number of elite journalists with free access to high quality media sources, for stories related to the emerging markets. If you know any journalists covering the emerging markets, they are welcome to contact us to apply for this service.

More details here:

You can read more about Evalueserve at .

UPDATE: For Integrity Research’s comments on the acquisition, see .

InfoWorld: Social Media: Overhyped or Under-executed? Strategies for Success.

I hope to see you at this upcoming event:

Sponsor: InfoWorld
Title: Social Media Breakfast: Overhyped or Under-executed? Strategies for Success.
Location: Roosevelt Hotel, New York City
Time: Tuesday, May 15, 2007, 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

Register for this complimentary event by clicking here:

Social Media is experiencing phenomenal growth. As a highly effective and efficient way to communicate with Information Technology professionals, IT Peer to Peer Communities are gaining ground quickly. Yet key questions remain on how to best market to this new media.

Topics includes:
* New proprietary research on Social Media trends and technologies
* Hear from expert panelists on Social Media implementation and ROI opportunities
* Testimonials from marketing and advertising executives using Social Communities today

Experts participating in panel discussions:
* Julien Blin, Research Analyst and Social Media Expert, IDC
* Allen Fear, Director of Online Content & Production, InfoWorld
* David Teten, Co-Managing Director, Nitron Circle of Experts; Author, The Virtual Handshake
* Mike Walsh, CEO, Leverage Software
* Additional speakers TBD

By attending the InfoWorld breakfast you will gain expertise in the following topics:
* Tips for developing ads that connect with your target audience
* Measurement techniques and how new tools/metrics are being used to determine ROI
* Ideas on building IT Community loyalty
* Evaluating communications potential and coverage
* Marketing vehicles used to best communicate in an IT Peer to Peer Community.

If you would like to invite a colleague to attend this event with you, please forward this email and have them register for a complimentary pass.

Free copies of The Virtual Handshake

The folks at Landslide have figured out a great marketing strategy: If you view a demo of their “sales workstyle management” system, they’ll give you a free copy of The Virtual Handshake–Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online.

Alex Salkever of Inc. wrote in Turning Sales Into Science that Landslide “gives sales staffers what they need, when they need it, to close a deal.” In other words, Landslide provides salespeople more infrastructure, so that they can focus more on selling and less on all of the other activities that distract them from their main job.

Link: Watch a Landslide demo, get a copy of The Virtual Handshake

Scott Allen on Growing Your Business November 27

I’ll be appearing on the Growing Your Business with Fred and Lyna talk radio show on November 27. We’ll be talking about how entrepreneurs can best use social networking and other Web 2.0 sites to grow their business.

I’ll post details on how to listen when the show airs. In the meantime, you might want to check out their archives, including recent shows with Joan Stewart (“The Publicity Hound”), Lee Silber (Self-Promotion for the Creative Person), Denise Michaels (Testosterone-Free Marketing), and more.