Skype, Web Ex and audio calls are convenient and create the illusion we’re actually having a meeting -- but nothing beats the power of a truly personal, face-to-face connection. In Silicon Valley and many other places, there are few private offices. I had worried it was perhaps not professional enough for business. Facial expressions often communicate so much more than words.

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Handle your office romance the right way and you might live happily ever after; screw it up and you could wind up looking for a new job.

Rene Shimada Siegel is founder and president of High Tech Connect, a unique consulting partner for expert marketing and communications.

After a successful career in Silicon Valley, she founded her company 15 years ago while juggling three kids under the age of five.

When the daily avalanche of emails and voice messages gets overwhelming, it’s so tempting to retreat to my office and start typing replies and returning phone calls. No matter what industry we’re in, we’re all in the people business.

But as a business owner, I try to remember customers want to work with someone they can relate to, not just buy from.

, Barnes & Noble was so offended that someone would actively encourage co-worker hookups that it initially refused to stock the book.So if workplace dating is such a bad idea, why do employees keep doing it?Is it because the stress of working together creates a unique bond between people?That ability to “read” a candidate beyond their keywords is a huge competitive advantage for us. Is the lobby bright and inviting with recent accolades proudly displayed? Is there free juice and healthy snacks in the cafeteria?Brand new Herman Miller chairs in the conference room?(It later reversed the decision.) Even then, though, surveys showed half of us have had an office fling; and today, a whopping The shameful holiday-party hookup is no longer the primary association with intra-office romance. In some industries, the open business and romantic partnership is even I concede that meeting someone at work makes logical sense.