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Hiring Online Using Twitter - A Progress Report

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 9:30 AM on April 24, 2009:

From Anne Clelland:

I seek a part-time virtual assistant for Handshake 2.0.

I applied to place job openings with Hokies4Hire in early April, was accepted, and added the virtual assistant's position.  I received one e-mail application in about a week.  While the position ultimately wasn't filled, the candidate's excellent clarifying questions resulted in me creating a page on Handshake 2.0 with a complete job description.

Having been overwhelmed by a hundred or more e-mail replies to queries using Peter Shankman's Help a Reporter Out - HARO service, I hesitated to use my Twitter account to advertise the job opening.  I feared the response would backlog my inbox to needing a billion virtual assistants rather than one.

Yet the fundamental business principle of "It's who you know" underpins the power of Twitter.  Someone who knows me, might know someone, who knows someone, who wants to be a virtual assistant.

On April 13, I posted this update:

"Blacksburg-based, part-time, virtual assistant sought for Handshake 2.0. Details: http://tinyurl.com/db82u3"

On April 15, I received an e-mail application.  While the position ultimately wasn't filled, the candidate's questions again helped me write a more specific job description.

Since Handshake 2.0 focuses on a regional economy, I prefer a candidate who is regionally-based.  I currently have 299 unanswered e-mails in my inbox (probably half of them still lingering from HARO).  I need an assistant located anywhere. 

I posted this tweet on April 22:

"Virtual assistant position open with Handshake 2.0. Very flexible hours, i.e. on your schedule, part-time http://tinyurl.com/db82u3"

According to Twitter search, 4 people re-tweeted it.  To use Z. Kelly Queijo's Twitter Power 5K formula, if I add up their followers, plus mine, the information from my original tweet appeared in the Twitter streams of over 5500 Twitter followers. 

The limits of the power of Twitter are the limits of human interactions:  You can't make me read or act on your tweet.  I choose.  And I can't make you read or act on mine.

Good.  I respect and cherish the limits of the power of Twitter.

I received one e-mail reply, without a résumé.  Our brief correspondence included from the candidate, "Bring it on!", which I did find amusing.  Still haven't received that résumé.

What's a gal with 299 unread e-mails - now 325 - to do?

Continue to experiment with the use of social media for business purposes.

To Twitter, I'll add a blog post.

Here's the link to the page describing the position for a Virtual Assistant with Handshake 2.0.  I've copied and pasted the text below.  As soon as I post this, I'll tweet it.  I'll share what happens - in a blog post on Handshake 2.0, on Twitter, maybe Facebook...

***

Virtual Assistant for Handshake 2.0

Job Description

Ideally, you are located in the New River Valley of Virginia so you're familiar with our locale and clientele.

You are skilled at working online and one of your strengths is checking off items on a to-do list or task list. You are Internet savvy, learn online applications easily, and can write well enough to document your work and progress. You have your own Internet connection, can work at your own location on your own schedule, and can still meet deadlines. 

You operate as an independent contractor, track your hours, and invoice Handshake 2.0 at the end of each month.  You are open to submitting your address and Social Security Number, SSN, or Employer Identification Number, EIN, to our accounting firm, Hodges, Jones and Mabry.  (Once a contractor is paid over $300, a tax statement is issued and a report made to the IRS of your earnings.  Hodges, Jones and Mabry would send you that form at the beginning of 2010 for your 2009 tax return.)
 
You have a complete LinkedIn profile or are open to establishing one via invitation from Handshake 2.0.  (This is one of the ways businesses and professionals establish credible identity online, a rough equivalent to Facebook for biz.  Here's an example from Handshake 2.0's Anne Giles Clelland.)

After one month of a mutually beneficial work relationship, you will be listed as a team member on Handshake 2.0's About Page with a link to your LinkedIn URL.

Wage

$10 per hour, maximum of 5 hours per week

Qualifications

Self-awareness. Self-discipline. If you have great ideas and love to initiate new projects, or need to work with a team or to be supervised to complete tasks, please don't apply for this job. We'll have other jobs for you later. We're a fast-paced, high-tech start-up and, right now, we need people who can execute task lists unsupervised. 

How It Works

You receive a series of e-mails, each containing a specific task with a deadline, always with at least a 24-hour lead time.  You work on each task at your own pace, complete the task, and reply to the e-mail to let the sender know the task has been completed.  You keep a list of the tasks, track the time you spend on each task, and use that to document your monthly invoice.  Regardless of the state of items on the task list, you keep connected to the people and the process by e-mailing a progress update every 48 hours.

On the Current To-Do List

  • Hourly wages for up to 3 hours for you to train yourself to gain a beginning level of proficiency with TypePad, particularly how to link text to other sites.
  • Find answers to questions online with either original or primary sources, and/or credible, authoritative secondary sources with links to verify the data. 
  • Example question #1:  Find a link that verifies that Oprah had a Buddhist monk on her TV show who said something like, “On my deathbed, I won’t think, 'I wish I had worked harder' or 'I wish I had made more money.'  I’ll think, 'Did I love well?  Was I well-loved?'"
  • Example question #2:  Find 3 local (New River Valley, Virginia) companies/individuals who can take single musical compositions, each burned onto a CD, and turn those compositions into single mp3 files.  Provide prices for each, and rank the three providers in your order of recommendation.
  • Much of the data you will seek online will be statistics to support or refute business-related assertions or theories.
  • Hourly wages for up to 3 hours for you to train yourself (including approximately 1 1/2 hours of online training via video) to gain a beginning level of proficiency with AttaainCI,  particularly how to set up e-mail alerts and how to derive keyword lists for companies in different industries.
  • Write a few sentences or a paragraph answering, explaining, or describing an online text selection, an image, or a video.
  • Be open to serendipitously finding information related to tasks on the to-do list and be open to suggesting it.
  • Check new blog posts, make sure the links work (if you catch any typos, reporting them would be great, but it's not part of the job).
  • Upload specified images to clients' business Facebook pages - for example VT KnowledgeWorks.

Application Instructions

  1. Review the site and see if our mission matches yours.
  2. Find an answer to Example question #1.
  3. Send us an e-mail - anne@handshake20.com - with an answer to Example question #1 and a résumé attached. 
  4. In the body of the e-mail, pitch us on what you can do for us.

Thank you for your interest!

Twitter Power 5K

Posted by Z. Kelly Queijo at 9:41 PM on April 23, 2009:

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

On Monday, April 20, 2009, a handful of people posted tweets and retweets (RT) in reference to an article I wrote for the Blue Ridge Business Journal about Twitter (Twitter This: the litest, lowest-fat, zero-calorie, fastest-growing form of communication in cyberspace).

I captured those tweets and recorded the number of followers of each person in parentheses:

furnishweb: Nice article from @zkellyq with good explanation on how twitter's viral nature works. Thanks. http://tinyurl.com/cykz82  (38)

edupreneur: @zkellyq Nice piece on Twitter in the Blue Ridge Business Journal! (1,588)

handshake20: RT @mailtrust RT @cnouri Blue Ridge Biz Jrnl article by @zkellyq on Twitter w/ real world examples (including @mailtrust) http://is.gd/txNH  (242)

handshake20: "Twitter This" in Blue Ridge Business Journal by @zkellyq http://tinyurl.com/cykz82

mailtrust: RT @cnouri: Blue Ridge Biz Journal article by @zkellyq on power of Twitter w/ real world examples (including @mailtrust) http://is.gd/txNH  (1,998)

cnouri: Great article in Blue Ridge Biz Journal by @zkellyq on power of Twitter w/ real world examples (including @mailtrust) http://is.gd/txNH  (1,048)

If every follower for each unique Twitter ID listed above were to click and read “Twitter This,” the article would have been read by a possible 4,914 people.

Add to that the 123 followers I had at the beginning of the week, and the number becomes 5,037.

Of course, some overlap among the tweeters and followers listed above exists, but even if that number amounted to 10% of the total, a significant number of people could have been reached within 24 hours of the first message posted.

I've received comments from readers saying they now “get it” when it comes to understanding the power of Twitter.

My numbers are small (but growing) compared to those of seasoned, power users of Twitter as a viral marketing tool.  However, the value of potentially increasing my readership by several thousand means a great deal to me as a writer and continues only to reinforce the strength and reach of Twitter Power.

***

Z. Kelly Queijo, writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.  You can follow her on Twitter, @zkellyq.

Sheriff of FurnishWEB

Posted by Z. Kelly Queijo at 8:00 AM on April 23, 2009:

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

If FurnishWEB were a town instead of an online data management system for the home furnishings industry, Barry Welch would be sheriff, and FurnishWEB's users, the citizens.

Barry Welch, FurnishWEB, an online data management system for the home furnishings industry“Sheriff Welch” would keep the town safe, protecting and maintaining its data's integrity and security with thoughtful attention. The character of Sheriff Andy Taylor, from the long-running television series, The Andy Griffith Show, would be the role model for building relationships and maintaining tranquility within the community.

Welch, a long-time fan of Andy Griffith, says, “I like Andy because he reminds me of a simpler time - of honesty and humor and love. I enjoy that my kids can watch it, and get it.”

Framed, pencil sketches of the TV show's three main characters, Andy, Opie, and Barney, hang on the walls of his office. At one time, Welch named the data servers for his company, Internet Databases, after these characters.

Trust and integrity are the hallmarks of Andy Griffith's character and the same can be said of Welch when it comes to running Internet Databases. In business for almost ten years, every sale, whether for custom software development or for FurnishWEB, has come from a referral by someone who knows Welch and uses his software.

The clean and thoughtful design that Welch has put into FurnishWEB shows that he “gets it” when it comes to understanding what his clients need to do their jobs well.

With Sheriff Welch on the job, the citizens of FurnishWEB can go about their lives knowing they (and their data) are well cared for.

***

Z. Kelly Queijo, also a fan of Andy Griffith, writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.  You can follow her on Twitter, @zkellyq

***

FurnishWEB, a client of Handshake 2.0, is an online data management system for the home furnishings industry that expedites and systematizes order processing and product inventory tracking to optimize partnerships between manufacturers, dealers, sales representatives, staff, and customers.

If you'd like a detailed view of FurnishWEB's Smart Sales feature, contact Barry Welch to schedule an online demo.

FurnishWEB is an enterprise of Internet Databases, a custom web development company founded in 1999, located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Today's Eclipse - Hillinger Zweigelt

Posted by Eclipse Winery at 5:00 AM on April 23, 2009:

Connecting you through wine

Eclipse Winery, LLC, is located in the New River Valley of Virginia

Modern day business is global: we live and work in a time that knows few boundaries.  And yet, we still find comfort and safety in the familiar. 

The Hillinger Zweigelt 2006 has widespread popularity in Austria, yet is little known in America.  With a floral bouquet and cherry undertones, it is a wonderful accompaniment to your next fruit and cheese plate.  Drink globally at your next business affair with an Austrian Zweigelt.

Available in the New River Valley of Virginia at Gourmet Pantry in Blacksburg.

***

Today's Eclipse, the wine recommendation for Handshake 2.0, is written by Rik and Melissa Obiso, co-owners of Eclipse Winery, LLC, a new winery located in the New River Valley of VirginiaEclipse Winery, LLC plans to open to the public as early as 2012.  The Eclipse Winery story, Couple hope grapes will yield dream business was featured in The Roanoke Times.  You can read all the Today's Eclipse columns and more about Eclipse Winery on Handshake 2.0.

You can follow Eclipse Winery on Twitter @eclipsewinery.

Handshake 2.0 Intern Wins Leadership Award

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:27 PM on April 22, 2009:

We are so honored to announce that Melinda Marcus, author of the series Defining the Local Social Entrepreneur for Handshake 2.0, won the 2009 Caught in the Act of Leadership Award from The Business Leadership Center, Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech.  The award is presented to "...an undergraduate or MBA business student who has shown outstanding leadership and/or courage in a specific leadership situation."

Melinda Marcus, an intern for Handshake 2.0 in the fall of 2008, is a Virginia Tech management major, Class of 2010.

Mindy, your leadership and vision serve all of us!  Congratulations!

Want to Be Known in Virginia in 2012?

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:00 PM on April 22, 2009:

"By 2012, more than 145 million people - or 67% of the US Internet population - will be reading blogs at least once per month."

- eMarketer, The Blogosphere: A Mass Movement from Grass Roots

Now might be a good time to get on Handshake 2.0.

Time to Renegotiate Everything

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 5:00 AM on April 22, 2009:

From Bob Brudzinski, Change Up Management, Inc.:

Bob Brudzinski, Change Up Management, Inc. Small business consultant Bill Bartmann stated recently in the Wall Street Journal, "Most of us grew up knowing that once you agree to something, you don't back out of it."  He continued, "That rule doesn't apply anymore."

If you're a small business owner, your suppliers were rarely concerned about raising their prices to you, often unannounced, to improve their financial performance. Now it's your turn. They really need to keep your business. So, for once, you have the leverage.
 
Work with your suppliers and look for ways to reduce product or service costs, improve payment terms, reduce order quantities and minimums, and reduce shipping costs.

Now is the time to consider consolidating suppliers. Then, you can offer one supplier additional volume and move your company higher on their customer priority list. In exchange, you can get price or terms concessions.

Look at your facility rent. In these economic times, newer, larger and nicer facilities are coming on the market, because they lost their clients. These facilities may now come on the market with more competitive rental rates that may be as good as or better than what you’re currently paying.  Likewise, you may be able to renegotiate your rent with your current landlord to prevent you from moving elsewhere.

Finally, get new pricing/quotes on your health insurance, telephone service, Internet hosting, marketing programs, office supplies, and everything else you buy in some meaningful quantity. An ad agency client, who already runs a tight ship, was able to find $18,000 savings just by renegotiating. 

***

Change Up Management, Inc., located in Roanoke, Virginia, helps business owners, one-on-one, by providing practical advice and support that leads to lasting change, improvement, and long-term success.  President and Owner, Bob Brudzinski, has worked with hundreds of business owners, customers, lenders, suppliers, and employees through the economy’s periodic ups and downs.  He is an accredited Institute for Independent Business, IIB, associate. 

Twitterin' Tommy - Success Stories from Road Trip 2.0

Posted by Z. Kelly Queijo at 5:00 AM on April 21, 2009:

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

On the information superhighway, Twitter has provided Tommy Clapp, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Townside, plenty of roadside assistance.

When he needed to help a referral connect with a Realtor in another state, Clapp tweeted a direct message (DM) to an agent in Northern Virginia and received the name of an attorney who handles real estate closings in Baltimore. He then contacted that person via Twitter and the name of a Baltimore agent was sent in reply. Before the day was over, he was able to connect a buyer who had been referred to him and who wanted to buy a house in Baltimore with an agent from a trusted source. “Its fantastic how well it worked out and in a period of hours,” says Clapp. “They were able to get together that weekend to find something.”

Tommy Clapp, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Townside, with his iPhone

Handshake 2.0 asked Tommy Clapp,
"Can an iPhone take a picture of itself?"
Great answer - a shot taken with his Mac.

Imagine shopping in Lowes and realizing you forgot to measure a piece of furniture and that measurement was a “must-have” in order to make a purchase decision? That's exactly what  happened to Clapp. He did what anyone with a cell phone could do - he posted a tweet asking for the dimensions of a king size bed. Seconds later, he had the info he needed. “I love the connection part of it and the wealth of information is incredible.”

Making friends on Twitter is another added benefit. Clapp met his first “Twitter friend” on an out-of-state trip. They arranged to meet over lunch and discovered that they knew a great deal about one another even though they had never met face-to-face.

With all the successes Clapp has experienced using Twitter, I asked him if there were anything else he needed to further make his way on Road Trip 2.0. His reply? “Hands down - a blog.”

Meet Tommy Clapp on Twitter at @Chumley21.

***

Z. Kelly Queijo writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.  You can follow her on Twitter, @zkellyq.

***

Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS, a Handshake 2.0 client, is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  It strives to be the best online source for real estate listings in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, Salem and all of the  Roanoke Valley and New River Valley.   Experienced agents are available to provide expert real estate advice and quality customer service.  You're invited to view this week's featured properties, search all area listings, and to read agent tips on the Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® blog, Keepin' It Real Estate.

Aneesh Chopra - The Next Millionaire From Our Rural Communities

Posted by Z. Kelly Queijo at 7:52 PM on April 20, 2009:

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

On April 18, 2009, President Obama announced the appointment of Aneesh Chopra as the first federal Chief Technology Officer. Chopra currently holds the position of Secretary of Technology for the state of Virginia.

According to Kevin Hall, Director of Communications for U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, Virginia is the first in the nation to establish a chief of technology at the state level. Former Governor Jim Gilmore created this cabinet-level position in 1998.

The headline for the Wall Street Journal's article on this topic reads “Tech Industry Cheers as Obama Taps Aneesh Chopra for CTO.”

Cory Donovan, Executive Director for the NewVa Corridor Technology Council (NCTC), is also cheering. “Aneesh Chopra has helped position Virginia as a leader in the technology economy and is a friend of the NCTC. Secretary Chopra is aware of the budding technology community in the NewVa region, the innovative companies we have here, and what those firms will contribute to pulling our economy out of this recession.”

Chopra has attended several NCTC events and is host to COVITS (the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Innovative Technology Symposium) annual technology summit. He is also responsible for the launch of Virginia's Productivity Investment Fund, a funding program designed to encourage development of innovative programs that result in cost-savings and improvements in efficiency that could potentially benefit the Commonwealth.

In an earlier interview for Handshake 2.0, Chopra stated “We're very confident that now that we are connected through a much more robust broadband infrastructure, entrepreneurs anywhere in Virginia can build a Facebook application. We might have the next millionaire coming from our rural communities...” 

“It's hard not to be excited about Chopra's appointment,” says Donovan. “His appointment by President Obama will help improve the link between Washington and the NewVa region to the benefit of both the region and our nation.”

For more information, read the Joint Statement by Governor Kaine, Senator Warner on Appointment of Aneesh Chopra as Nation's First Chief Technology Officer.

***

Z. Kelly Queijo writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.  You can follow her on Twitter, @zkellyq.

Design Nine Announces The Wired Road - Integrated Fiber and Wireless Municipal Network

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 9:15 PM on April 18, 2009:

Fiber installation in Galax, Virginia street Design Nine announced on April 18, 2009 that The Wired Road has begun full operations.  An official ribbon-cutting will take place at the Rex Theater, 113 E. Grayson Street, in Galax, Virginia, and the adjacent City Hall, on April 20, 2009 at 11:00 AM. 

The regional network is the largest integrated fiber and wireless open access, open services municipal network in the United States, and the high performance network will eventually provide services across more than 1,000 square miles of mountainous terrain in southwest Virginia.

The project is a collaboration among three local Virginia governments, including Grayson County, Carroll County, and the City of Galax. Crossroads Institute and Carroll County Public Schools are also partners in the effort.  Design Nine provided the early planning, developed the financial and business models for the project, designed the network architecture, and provided comprehensive project management services to get the network built.

Planning for the project began in early 2007, and construction started later in the fall of that year.  The first customers began using the system in mid-2008, and wireless residential and businesses customers can now request service connections. 

As an open access network, the project is unique among municipal broadband projects because all services are provided by private sector companies = the local governments are not selling any services to businesses and residents.

Andrew  Cohill, President of Design Nine, noted several other significant accomplishments, which include installing fiber in downtown Galax and deploying high performance wireless broadband to residents and businesses in portions of Carroll and Grayson counties that were completely unserved by broadband.

Cohill said, “Residents that have been on dial up have been stopping work crews and asking when they can get wireless and fiber services.  Everyone is anxious to get connected.”  

The fiber in Galax will provide connectivity not only to businesses but to organizations like the Galax city government and the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts.  The Twin County Regional Hospital has been using The Wired Road fiber since January.  The hospital’s switch to The Wired Road fiber got the institution a big increase in bandwidth with a sharp reduction in cost, and a local service provider was able to get the hospital’s Internet business for the first time.

Design Nine managed the entire network build out, which included vendor evaluation and selection, supervision of all the construction work, testing of the network, and installation of network management and monitoring software.  Design Nine also developed a complete set of business, financial, and operations policies and procedures for the regional authority that was created to run the network.

Design Nine’s high performance design provides 100 megabit fiber connections and  and multi-megabit wireless speeds. The project recently received additional funding that will expand wireless access in rural areas and will get fiber into every business park in the region.

*** 

Design Nine provides visionary broadband network design and engineering services to clients, communities, and regions throughout the U.S.  The firm has active projects in eight states, with several fiber to the home (FTTH) projects in build out or operations, including the first municipal open network in the U.S. Design Nine manages broadband fiber and wireless projects from beginning to end, including the initial assessment, design, construction, and operations phases.  The company is one of the most experienced open access broadband network design firms in the United States, and offers a full range of assessment, planning, financial analysis, business design, and project management for public and private networks.

To learn more, you can read the Design Nine blog, Technology Futures, follow Design Nine on Twitter @DesignNine, and read about Design Nine's founder, Andrew Cohill, on Handshake 2.0 in Clicking Back Over the Years - Most Wired Town in America and Most Wired Town: Building Community One Click at a Time.