What about the Handshake?

Last week I discussed why I blogged and why I felt it was an effective thing for a real estate agent to do.  As she always does, Lani made me think a little more.  Her comment was great.

…but when you provide a real time forum for clients to anonymously learn about you, you become trustworthy, approachable and they will already know you and have given you a virtual handshake before you even know their name.

That got me thinking…what about the Handshake?

Long story short…my dad has three daughters and zero sons.  So, I have built chicken coops, dug drainage fields, changed fuel pumps and brake lines, thrown a football…and learned the art of the handshake.

Firm but not hard, direct but not confrontational, eye to eye but not challenging.  Does that make sense?

When I met my husband, it was in a work environment.  He would later tell me that my handshake was memorable.

These are real life handshakes.  You know whose hand you are shaking and what situation you are both currently in.  There is tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions.  Lots of information gets passed during this process.

But what are the characteristics of a virtual handshake? I will tell you some things I have noticed.

  • Great Bloggers give great virtual handshakes.  They are warm and inviting without being weird and overbearing.
  • Virtual handshakes take longer than real ones.  The response time is different and the non verbal communication is unavailable.  Therefore it takes more time to glean the same information.
  • The anatomy of a virtual handshake is basically the same as a real one – the offer, the acceptance, the release, and the continued conversation.
  • Commenting a few times on another blog and not getting any acknowledgement that you joined the conversation feels the same as when you go to accept a handshake and they do the pull back, “ha ha got you” trick.

But, the anonymity of it all makes the virtual handshake so much different.  The vehicle of the keyboard that allows us to reach so many becomes the obstacle of knowing exactly who you are traveling to.  This is where I draw a blank and look for you to fill it.

  • How do you see the virtual handshake – or even the real one for that matter?
  • Do you get  impressions from the virtual handshake  – how are they different or the same than the real one?
  • How do you overcome the obstacle of the anonymous?  Do you even think about it?
  • What goes through your mind when you think “virtual handshake”?


  1. Joanna Young says:

    Hi April, thanks for introducing the idea of the virtual handshake. I hadn’t thought of it that way before.

    I think how I see the handshake depends on the context.

    As a reader – well there are some places I just go to read – to learn, to smile, to get some ideas. I’m not looking for too much of a handshake there!

    As a writer – I guess a lot of the people who stop by are happy to read for the same reasons – and that’s perfectly fine. I try and write in a way that includes everyone, and doesn’t assume prior knowledge or being part of a ‘club’

    As a commenter – I guess that’s where it becomes more like we’re shaking hands. You’re so right about the feeling of the hand being drawn away if you don’t get a reply. If I don’t get a reply after a few days I won’t comment again, and I probably won’t go back. Same if I get a sharp reply.

    I do make a couple of exceptions where I read and comment on very high traffic sites (Problogger and Copyblogger) though the authors there do dip in and comment on occasion, pick out ideas and questions from the comment box and take the time to visit other people’s sites. So there’s still some kind of handshake going on there.

    As a blogger, I try and respond to everyone who comments as quickly as I can. I’m getting into the habit of e-mailing first time commenters, and also e-mailing responses that I think the person might value – and this creates a very powerful connection.

    I also try and leave a comment with someone who’s linked to me (with intention, not just cutting and pasting someone else’s list), it seems only courteous

    Funnily enough, the anonymity doesn’t get to me. You all seem very real to me. I hear you in your words. Of course I don’t really know if it sounds anything like you or not, but I have a mental picture of April -and she’s got a warm smile and a firm handshake!


  2. April, you and I have spoken about pet peeves and a poor handshake should have made my list…

    Look, I don’t have anything profound to add, but I will say that in person, someone who half-way offers their hand in the upward curled (submissive or uncaring) position that half-shakes weakly is the same as popping into a blog, making a weak, half-hearted comment then sulking away never to return. It is also similar to bloggers who don’t understand that it IS a handshake and that there is a proper anatomy to this action. Be firm, smile (on or offline), MEAN IT and don’t be scared to shake like a man, even if you’re a woman. It’s gotten ME a long way in the business world!

  3. Greg Provance says:

    I definitely feel that you can tell a lot about someone from a handshake…virtual or otherwise. The tone of a virtual handshake spell out whether someone is “looking you in the eye” or timidly presenting themselves. I find that most people never even get to the handshake at all due to insecurities and fear..something I had to work very hard at overcoming myself.
    Thanks so much for this entry…I feel I’m walking away with a better understanding of the anatomy of the handshake:)
    By the way, how does mine come accross?

    Virtually yours,

    Greg Provance

  4. Great post! I am gonna share it with my own blog readers at jason.landbrokr.com! Thanks.

  5. Internet is but wires and cables if not for the interaction, dialogue, conversation … … It’s the same for blogging. I enjoy visit good blogs and often leave a few words after reading a good post. It certainly feels a lot better if the writer replies or gives his feedback.

  6. Joanna – I so hear you and I think we are tracking on the same page. In fact, I hate it when I am away for awhile and can’t participate in the conversation. I typically don’t comment on the high traffic site…just take away from the smarts they are imparting and run.

    Lani – blogging is fairly new in this area. It is hard to explain the hidden ideas behind bloggy ettiqutte. But it is there. I as lucky to have folks like Chris Cree and Jay Thompson to help me out from the beginning.

    I am so with you on the handshake thing.

    Greg – You raise a great point point about never getting to the handshake – what a waste! The handshakes I have been able to make on the web have been enriching to my life in a way I would have never imagined. I am so glad you found value in the post.

    The handshake is very nice – warm and inviting without being timid – all the “right” qualities.

    Vivenne – Interaction is the key. It is the best thing about blogging! I am glad I am getting the chance to get past the wires and cables with you.

  7. Jason – sorry your comment got hung up. Thanks for the positive feedback – I appreciate it.

  8. What a great analogy, as well as a great reminder of the importance of comments and following up on comments on my blogs.

  9. Rinnie – thanks. I was fortunate that I had great mentors early on in blogging. They impressed upon me the importance of the conversation. I am so lucky that idea stuck with me.

    BTW – nice to meet you!


  1. […] April Groves wrote yesterday about blogs being a virtual handshake. […]

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