Davinci Virtual Blog



Why Tapped In Entrepreneurs Will Love LinkedIn Today

For all of my LinkedIn-using readers—and if you aren’t using LinkedIn, you’ll probably want to go sign up as soon as you finish reading this post—the business social networking platform is offering a new way to stay on top of the news that your connections care about the most.

Dubbed LinkedIn Today, the new product surfaces the top headlines and stories being shared the most across multiple industries by LinkedIn’s trusted network of professionals. So if you want to learn about the earthquake in Japan from perspective your connections care about, for example, you can do that through LinkedIn Today. Essentially, LinkedIn Today helps you cut to the news chase with customized, tailored news consumption tools.

“LinkedIn Today provides our members with a quick and easy way to digest trending news gleaned from the collective wisdom of 90 million professionals—what they are reading, what they are sharing, and what they are saying,” says Deep Nishar, senior vice president of product and user experience at LinkedIn. “Having a professional and tailored lens on news and insights is not only an efficient way to gather information for your work day, but it also arms you with the insights you need to make strategic business decisions.”

Here’s how it works: You can tap into professional news through three different perspectives: connections, industry or broader global professional network. When you do, you can read what your connections are reading, and access news that is on the minds of industry leaders. You can follow up to 22 industries or follow a specific news source. LinkedIn will have a share button on leading site like Bloomberg.com, the Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney and more. LinkedIn Today will also feature StumbleUpon content tailored for each industry with evergreen stories.

And if you want to do all this on the fly, LinkedIn lets you. LinkedIn launched an iPhone app to deliver the LinkedIn Today tools to iPhone users. What more could a news hungry entrepreneur ask for? LinkedIn Today is a great experience if you really want to be in the know.

Does March Madness Impact Small Business Productivity?

If you are a basketball fan like me, you look forward to March—March Madness, that is. But can March Madness backfire on small businesses? Indeed, March Madness in the office can drain productivity. And it appears that some managers are concerned about it.

Thirty-two percent of managers interviewed felt NCAA basketball tournament activities shouldn’t be allowed in the workplace. That’s because it brings unwelcomed distractions. I can see the point. E-mail goes unanswered and phones keep right on ringing when the staff is glued to the tube waiting to see who advances to the Sweet 16 and the Final Four, not to mention the championship game.

Interestingly enough, even with the potential productivity drain, most businesses are willing to engage in March Madness activities in the office. Fifty-seven percent of office managers said events tied to the college basketball playoffs are acceptable in moderation. Another 11 percent welcome March Madness in all its distracting glory.

“As long as they don’t interfere with work, activities tied to sporting events can be great for morale,” says OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. “Watching a game together or holding friendly contests provides opportunities for employees to build team spirit.”

More men (36 percent) than women (6 percent) confessed to being distracted on the job by outside sporting events. Thirty-four percent of professionals between the ages of 18 and 34 also admitted to being sidetracked, more than those in other age groups.

OfficeTeam offers five tips to help workers keep their heads in the game during March Madness:

  1. Don’t get benched. Before checking scores online or participating in game-related activities at work, review company policies so you know what’s acceptable and what’s not.

  2. Take the occasional time out. If your firm allows it, enjoy quick breaks to discuss tournament highlights with coworkers, but don’t let these talks sideline you from other responsibilities. If you’re a die-hard fan, consider requesting time off to watch the playoffs.

  3. Set up a game plan. If you want to take a day off to enjoy a sporting event, ask your supervisor as far in advance as possible so workloads can be managed. There may be many others with the same idea.

  4. Don’t step out of bounds. Review your company’s policy and find out ahead of time if your employer is OK with decorating your workspaces to support your favorite colleges.

  5. Be a good sport. Regardless of team allegiances, show proper sportsmanship in the office. Leave your overly competitive streak at home.

Check out this video on March Madness in the workplace:


What Small Biz Can Learn from Charlie Sheen’s Social Media Blitz

Think what you want about Charlie Sheen. He’s dominating social media right now. The outspoken actor has surpassed Lady Gaga and President Obama in the realm of social networking followers.

Yes, Warner Bros. may have fired Sheen from his star role on “Two and a Half Men,” but the son of Martin Sheen is blowing up Twitter, mastering video and emerging as the talk of the Facebook world. Is there a social media lesson in all this for entrepreneurs? You bet.

Tell the world. At the time of this writing, Sheen has more than 2.3 million followers on Twitter—and he generated that number in a matter of days because he let the media world know he was tweeting. Your world may not be as big as Sheen’s, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell your world you are on Twitter. Post your Twitter handle or the little birdie on your Web site, your e-mail, online ads, and anywhere else you communicate with the public. Then tweet wisely.

Use hash tags. Sheen has got the hash tag game down pat. He promotes his videos on his tweets using the #Fastball hash tag, for example. A hash tag helps people searching Twitter find you based on the topic about which you are tweeting. If you are tweeting about a shoe sale, for example, you would put “#shoesale” at the end of your tweet.

Engage with your followers: If you want to build a relationship, you need to do more than push out social media messages. You need to talk back when people talk to you. That means you need to monitor your social media accounts.

If you don’t have a Twitter handle yet, get one now. Your brand name may already be taken, so you may have to get creative in choosing something that speaks about your brand. And, if you are too busy to keep up with your social media, do what Charlie Sheen is doing: hire an intern (or a virtual assistant).

You’ll find plenty of other blog posts with social media advice from Davinci Virtual Office Solutions with a quick search in the box above. And here’s a video with some more tips.


Three Keys to Successful Small Business Hiring

Confidence. That’s the vibe from the small business community in early 2011. Small businesses are hiring—and raising prices. What does this mean for your small business? Time to think about recruiting.

The just-released National Federation of Independent Businesses Small Business Optimism Index shows a gain of 0.4 points in February. Although weak sales are still among the top small business concerns, hiring and future plans to hire are solid.

With small businesses poised to hire once again, it’s time to find ways to attract the best and brightest employees. So without further ado, here are three tips for hiring:

(1) Know what you need: Create a job description outlining exactly what you need from a new employee. If you don’t know what you are looking for, how will you know when you find it? You need to hire an employee that can help your business grow. Be specific about the skills and experience needed to manage the tasks at hand.

(2) Consider virtual assistants: If you aren’t sure you need a full-time employee—or if you have a diverse set of tasks you need to accomplish that are likely beyond a single person’s skill set—consider a virtual assistant arrangement. You could use several virtual assistants that specialize in areas like customer service, word processing, etc., and still not take on the overhead of a full-time employee.

(3) Never stop recruiting: Always keep your eyes open for a possible gem of a new hire. Even if you aren’t hiring now, that could change with a surge of new business. Keeping a file of potential rock stars on hand could benefit you down the road.

Check out this video that offers more tips on small business hiring advice:


Should You Go To Work Sick? Not!

You’ve gotta love employees who stick with you in sickness and in health—but do you really want employees getting everyone else in the office sick?

Especially in a down economy, it seems workers are willing to come to the office even when they are fighting the flu. Indeed, an Accountemps survey reveals that 67 percent of employees admit to “at least somewhat frequently” coming to work when they are feeling ill.

But is that the smartest business move? A better small business policy may be to let workers telecommute from a virtual office when they are feeling sick. That way, they can keep up with important e-mails and a few phone calls without spreading the cold, flu or other virus to the rest of the crew. It seems many would agree.

Indeed, at least a third of employees would prefer their sick co-workers stay home. Thirty-four percent of workers surveyed said they worry about being exposed to bugs when their co-workers come in to the office sick. By contrast, only 8 percent are impressed by their co-workers’ dedication.

Who or what is influencing the decision to come to work sick? Perhaps job loyalty, perhaps income constraints, or perhaps pushy bosses. Although half of employees said their managers encourage them to stay home if they aren’t well, 11 percent said their bosses frown on them taking sick days.

“Most people are well-intentioned—they show up even when they aren’t feeling well because they don’t want to fall behind in their work or burden colleagues who cover for them. However, they risk spreading their illness to others and affecting the entire team,” says Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies, 2nd Edition. “Employers should encourage staff to stay home if they are under the weather and provide tips on what employees can do to prevent the spread of illness in general.”

Which camp does your small business fall into? Would you rather let sick workers stay home and rest? Do you have systems in place that make it possible for them to connect to the office virtually or keep up with clients through intranets while they are on the mend? More and more, technology makes it possible for even under the weather employees to keep the ball rolling—without infecting the entire office.

Interestingly enough, Connecticut could become the first state in the nation with a mandatory sick pay day bill. Check out this new video on sick days: