If you’ve been waiting for a book that explaines everything you need to know about building business relationships on the Internet, your wait is finally over. Scott Allen and David Teten are master relationship builders who spent many years studying and applying the latest online tools and technologies that are shaping the future of business. Fortunately, they did mountains of research for you, so you can start enjoying success today.

In this pioneering book The Virtual Handshake, these mavens of the virtual world show you exactly how to expand and leverage your relationship network with simple online tools, enabling you to connect with people online and forge meaningful business relationships. They summarize this seemingly overwhelming universe into easily understandable concepts with systematic, how-to steps packed with a treasure chest of ideas to help you get started.

The foundation of this book is built on a very powerful idea that is worth a thousand times the price of the book itself. It’s called “The 7 Keys to a Powerful Network,” a framework equally applicable to the offline world as it is to online. These keys are: character, competence, relevance, information, strength, number and diversity. This gives you a measurable formula for the value of your own network, making it easy to determine where you have the most leverage today and where your future efforts would have the most impact. They explain exactly how to increase each of these seven keys in your own life using the tools described throughout the book.

They use the term “social software” to describe these various tools, which include popular online business networks such as Ecademy, Ryze or LinkedIn, and methods for managing email, weblogs, virtual communities and personal web sites that enable you to create a compelling online identity. Finally, they give real-world examples of how to apply these tools for sales, marketing, business development, finding a job or volunteering.

If this still sounds a little too futuristic for you, consider the following: the authors met in an online community, collaborated and wrote the book in its entirety at a distance of two thousand miles away from each other, and met face-to-face to shake hands for the first time only after they’d submitted their manuscript to their publisher! Now just imagine what new opportunities are waiting for you if you had the same tools—and what opportunities you might be missing without them.

Paperback, 270 pages; $19.95; Amacom.