Discovering Connections via LinkedIn Live

“How can anyone know 500 people?” asked my husband upon receiving a LinkedIn request from an old friend with over 500 connections. At that moment I realized he had never looked at my profile. Why should he? He already knows me. What he doesn’t know is that I really do, at some level,  know the 900+ people in my network.

And while that may seem like I’m well-connected, I learned during LinkedIn Live in Blacksburg there are others from my region with even more connections.

The three top connectors from the Roanoke-Blacksburg region mentioned were:

Not surprisingly, they are in my network, too! It made sense to me that John and Alec would have a lot of connections. John teaches 3,000 students regularly in World Regions, the largest class Virginia Tech offers and has made news around the globe for reaching out to connect with world leaders through all means of social media.

As a headhunter, meeting people is the life-blood of Alec’s business. He’s social, out-going and knows how to work a room when it comes to making contacts.

But Caroline, who is in her early twenties and a budding entrepreneur, does not have the benefit of speaking to thousands of students daily or longevity in a career. Instead, she attributes routinely connecting with purpose to her LI success:

Caroline pughLinkedIn has been a tool that has become a part of my every day life in communicating, networking, learning and sharing what I do as an entrepreneur.

I have found that getting in touch with key decision makers is an instrumental part of growing a business, along with building and maintaining strong relationships.

Through LinkedIn I have been able to connect with people who are now some of my closest advisors, friends and clients.

— Caroline Pugh



To learn more about how these and other connectors are shaping the Roaonke-Blacksburg region and beyond, take a look at the LinkedIn Live SlideShare presentation below. You’ll be amazed by how connected we are and the potential that awaits. 

LinkedIn chose  Blacksburg, Va. to launch LinkedIn Live! The  event was held at the Inn at Virginia Tech on June 27, 2013. 
Z. Kelly Queijo is founder of Smart College Visit, a college-search and campus visit planning portal for college-bound teens and their parents. Connect with her on LinkedIn!
Smart College Visit is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0. 



4 Quick Tips on How to Plan a Conference

The VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Week is in its fourth year and Lindsey Everssole has been at the helm each year guiding the process of organizing the week-long event. Having participated in this multi-city/multi-venue event, I asked Lindsey for tips on how to plan a successful conference. Her advice:

  1. Book your event dates at the venue as soon and as early as possible. It’s not crazy (and in fact, it’s important) to book your events a year out in advance at the designated venue. 
  2. Line up your event components and speakers soon after, since everyone needs time to plan in advance in today’s busy world.  
  3. When you have the skeleton of your event agenda complete, begin promoting it. Relentless advertising and promotion, and most importantly, having a clear message that states the value in attending/participating throughout your marketing materials is imperative to getting people to register and show up. 
  4. Consistent communication and steadfast reminders to your sponsors, speakers, vendors, and attendees is crucial to pulling off a successful event. 

VTKW Global Student Challenge Teams 2012

The VT KnowledgeWorks Global Student Business Concept Challenge can be viewed via Livestream on Thursday, August 22, 2013.  Get the details on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.

The Fourth Annual VT KnowledgeWorks Global Partnership Week (#vtkwglobal) began on August 18 and will run through August 24, 2013. 

Z. Kelly Queijo, founder of Smart College Visit, Inc. is considering hosting a conference. If you have tips you'd like to share, post them in the Comments section. Your input is appreciated! Follow Kelly and her hashtags on Twitter @collegevisit and on Facebook

Smart College Visit and VT KnowledgeWorks are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0. 

I Heart Hashtags

By Z. Kelly Queijo

to Twitter, my love of hashtags (#) is deep. They inform, amuse and direct me
to what’s trending – and not just on Twitter, but also on Instagram, Pinterest
and, most recently, on Facebook. If you have not used them, you’ve likely seen
them (#CampusChat, #CancerSucks, #Parenting, #Travel, #iPhone, #Android, #WhatsTrendingTODAY,

Oh, the
difference a space makes

To use hashtags to your publishing advantage, certain details must be paid attention to – most importantly omitting spaces between words.

Here are two
examples where I intended to use the same hashtag in two different Facebook posts on the same
topic, posted the same day. My intention was to tag both posts with #VirginiaTech but, instead, one post got tagged #Virginia + a space + Tech = #Virginia Tech. The other post was tagged correctly: #VirginiaTech. Note the difference in reach: 

Facebook Hashtag #Virginia Tech

 90 people saw this post

Facebook Hashtag #VirginiaTech

481 people saw this post

While I consider the first post the more interesting since it includes a photo and provides more details about the story, the second post gained more exposure. Both were posted to Facebook within 20 minutes of one another. 

Lesson Learned: If you want to spread hashtag love, proofread for spaces and make sure you use the right hashtag!

Z. Kelly Queijo, founder of Smart College Visit, Inc., won the Open Business Concept Competition at the 2010 VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurship Summit. Follow her and her hashtags on Twitter @collegevisit and on Facebook

Smart College Visit and VT KnowledgeWorks are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0. 

Blacksburg Startup UIU Link Off to a Great Start

By Z. Kelly Queijo

At a
time when only 5% of technology of startups are founded
by women
finding three women entrepreneurs all from the world of higher-ed having lunch
together at a café in Blacksburg could be considered one of those “once
in a blue moon

kind of events.

Kim Griffo, founder of UIU LinkYet, a
little over two years ago, Jim Flowers, director of VT KnowledgeWorks, a
business accelerator located at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center,
saw fit to bring together three female entrepreneurs who shared a common
passion for business, higher education and technology.

women included: Christina McIntyre, founder of BecomeAlum, an academic planning tool for
college students; Kim Griffo, founder of UIU
, a
directory resource to help students find open seats in online college courses;
and myself. 

energy in the room was electric as we brainstormed and shared insights about
startup life. Each one of our companies represented a different focal point for students on
the path to becoming college graduates. 

to the present: Kim launched UIU Link in Blacksburg in May of 2013 and received
mention of her company in the Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch two months later. And, it’s no
wonder – UIU Link has already made an impressive start with 10 universities signed
up representing 500 courses and 12,500 available seats.

Kim says
she is anticipating rapid growth as more colleges and universities are made
aware of UIU Link. “The response from provosts and faculty, as well as the
students is very positive. We have the traction, momentum, and are feeling the
surge from our university partners.”

Not to
be confused with the free, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement or  Coursera, another open directory of free
university-level courses, UIU Link is all about helping colleges fill “seats”
in paid online college courses while also helping students find the courses
they need to complete graduation requirements on time. Kim likens MOOCs to TV channels
where you can surf through a lot of options without having to commit to receive
the content. While MOOCs are free to users (students), the courses available
through UIU Link are not.

explains: “It is my understanding MOOCs are very expensive for the universities
to produce and there now seems to be a lot of confusion within the higher
education vertical. At UIU Link, we are about outcomes for the student and the
university partner. If it does not benefit the student and the university
positively, including credit transfer for the students and increased enrollment
and revenues for the universities, UIU Link would not ask an institution,
especially those that are state supported, publically funded institutions, to
give subsidized intellectual capital away for free off the backs of
students, parents and taxpayers.”

or not the number of MOOCs increases or not, the need to fill seats in the
classroom, online or on-site, won’t be going away any time soon. Nor will the
opportunities to for us to help one another in business. It’s safe to say that when
Christina, Kim and I get together for a post-launch review, we’ll have even
more to discuss as we explore ways to connect, collaborate and grow our ed-tech

Z. Kelly Queijo is founder of Smart College Visit, a college-search and campus visit planning portal for college-bound teens and their parents. Smart College Visit is an affiliate partner of UIU Link.

Smart College Visit and VT KnowledgeWorks are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0. 

Startup Life: Who Gets Paid First?

By Z. Kelly Queijo

What does a first-time entrepreneur know about running a startup business?

For many of us the answer is “not much.” But I was a fortunate startup founder because I had access to a group of seasoned entrepreneurs with whom I met regularly through my association with VT KnowledgeWorks.

The CEOs, founders, and presidents I met with never hesitated to share tips on how to run a business. Their advice was rich and backed by years of that life-in-the-trenches-know-how.

Pay your subcontractors first.One of my favorite tips came from Henry Bass, founder of Automation Creations, a software development firm founded in Blacksburg, Va. in 1996.  Henry’s startup tip was this: Pay your subcontractors first.

As I processed his words, I quickly understood the value of this sage advice. My subcontractors were not much different from me – cash flow was always a challenge and my subs were independent operators also working on shoe-string budgets, much like my own startup. They needed to be paid first and by doing so, I was also ensuring work could continue on my current projects as well as future projects.

Henry was definitely right about this. It was one of those “Aha!” moments that I value and continue to reflect on…usually around the first of each month.

Z. Kelly Queijo, founder of Smart College Visit, Inc., won the Open Business Concept Competition at the 2010 VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurship Summit.

Smart College Visit and VT KnowledgeWorks are clients of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0. 

The Library Hotel: A Novel Experience for Business Travelers

By Z. Kelly Queijo

What has more than 10 floors, 60 rooms and over 6,000 books?

The Library HotelYou may be thinking the answer is a “library”
but you’d be only half right. The correct and complete answer is the The
Library Hotel
, a concept hotel inspired by the Dewey Decimal Classification system.

in the heart of Midtown Manhattan on Madison Avenue in New York City, each of the hotel’s 10
guest room floors pays tribute to each of the 10 categories of the infamous
library system of classification.  For
instance, a room may be on the Social Sciences floor or on the floor
named for Arts & Recreation.

Regardless of the floor you choose, you’ll
find your room to be cozy, comfortable, and a truly “novel” experience.  From the uber-comfortable beds to the granite-topped
bookshelves lined with volumes of books, you’ll find it easy
to kick back and relax after a day of business in the City.

If you
need a little time to unwind before turning in, you can enjoy complimentary
wine and cheese from 5pm – 8pm in the Reading Room, located on the second floor, as well as lovely views of Madison Avenue and Library Way (the hotel is located
across the street from the NYC Public Library).

The Library Hotel

  • High-Speed
    Wireless Internet
  • Continental
    breakfast buffet
  • 24/7
    Refreshments in the Reading Room
  • Wine
    & cheese reception from 5pm-8pm
  • Bottled
    water, turndown service
  • Passes
    to full-service health club
  • 3pm
    check-in time
  • 1pm
    check-out time

What I
liked about my stay at The Library Hotel was, well, everything. The hotel staff
was friendly and accommodating. The food was exquisite (cocktails and sliders on
the 14th floor in the Bookmarks Lounge were delightful!). The rooms
were lovely, comfortable, and suitable for working with my laptop via Wifi.

Additional niceties
such as complimentary bottles of water and Belgian chocolate by the bed at
night made me feel welcome throughout my stay. Room
rates start at around $240 and go higher depending upon room selection and on
time of year.

Library Hotel is located at 299 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10017 (see map).

A portion of my stay was covered by The Library Hotel; reviews and opinions are
my own. 

Z. Kelly Queijo is the founder of Smart College Visit, Inc., a Blacksburg, Virginia-based higher-ed marketing company focused on mobile app and mobile web development with a special interest in creating travel and location-based tools and services. is a college search and college visit planning portal.

Smart College Visit Launches Explore UNH Mobile App

From Smart College Visit, Inc.:

Explore UNH: A mobile solution for prospective students

Unh_iphoneIn response to the growing
popularity of mobile devices, University of New Haven has introduced Explore UNH, a complete mobile
guide for prospective students, alumni, and visitors to campus.

“Downloading the app is an excellent way to prepare for a campus visit,” says Kevin Phillips, associate vice president for enrollment management.  “We want to make it as easy as possible to help our visitors, particularly our prospective students and their families, get the most out of their time on campus.  This app puts all of the information you might need at your fingertips in a very accessible format.”

Explore UNH
provides relevant information about attending University of New Haven,
including majors, student life, residence halls, dining, and mobile forms to
receive additional information.  The app
serves as an on-campus guide by providing directions for parking,
building-to-building walking directions, history and information on each
building and campus locale.  It also is a
tool to help prospective students apply to UNH and explore their future lives
on campus.

The Explore UNH mobile guide is divided
into five categories: Welcome, Visit, Apply, Explore, and Connect.   Each section was carefully crafted to
highlight UNH and allow the admissions department to be with a prospective
candidate prior to and after their campus visit.  The mobile guide is also ideal for visiting
alumni and conference goers to familiarize themselves with the campus.

Explore UNH was published by Smart College
Visit, Inc, in partnership with University of New Haven and is available free
of charge in the iTunes and Google Play Stores.

Smart College Visit is a Blacksburg, Virginia based higher-ed marketing and college visit planning portal. Featuring college search and campus visit travel resources, has been listed in the Top 100 education advice blogs and as one of the top 5 college visit sites. In addition to Explore UNH, the company also published Visit VT – a mobile campus guide for Virginia Tech in 2011.

Read 10 Facts about Smart College Visit on Handshake 2.0 and more about Smart College Visit on Handshake 2.0.

Smart College Visit, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Crowdfunding Shopping Guide for the Gift-Challenged

You know you're gift-challenged when you're partnered with the guy or gal "who has everything," you've started to find the ability to buy anything and everything online boring, and you still don't have that special gift for that special someone.

No worries, there's a way to fill up your gift bag with stuff so new, it may not have even been invented yet.

Need a gift? Shop crowdfunding sites!Shop on crowdfunding sites.  You can see what's new, what's coming to market, or what's still on the drawing board. And, since the products are not ready to ship, you still have time to shop, buy, grab a screen shot and wrap up the promise of being among the first to own the next BIG THING.

Just start scanning the projects – you'll know the right project when you see it.  Read through the list of donation levels, find the one that offers a product for a donation, check that it's in your budget and click to donate.  Voilà!  You've got a one-of-a-kind gift.

This Christmas, I'm going with the StickNFind- Bluetooth Powered ultra small Location Stickers for my guy-who-has-everything. I think he'll not only appreciate the concept and low cost of supporting a new startup venture, I think he's also going to like being the first to try out this new technology. How cool is that?

Here's a Wikipedia list of crowdfunding sites – try out the "Money for Goods" category.  Happy shopping – your gift will stand out from the crowd!

Z. Kelly Queijo is founder of, a college-visit traveling planning and college search portal for college-bound teens and their families. She is also a freelance journalist and frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0. She focuses on higher education, technology, travel and campus visits. Follow her on Twitter @zkellyq and @collegevisit.

From Handshake 2.0: 

Speaking of crowdfunding, we've announced we're launching a campaign on Health Tech Hatch on 1/15/13.  Here's how and why and here's Health Tech Hatch's suggestions for crowdfunding success.  You can read our unfolding crowdfudning story in the category Cognichoice on Handshake 2.0.

Blacksburg Jobs – Global Handshake Guide

Newly unemployed? A trailing spouse? Recent college graduate in need of a job? Thinking about what to do next? 

Think Blacksburg. Consistently ranked in numerous top lists for best places to work, start a business, live, and raise a family, Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. is home to Virginia Tech (the state's largest university) and home of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (with a base operation of more than 140 technology-focused businesses).

Global Handshake Guide to Blacksburg, Virginia JobsHere's our Global Handshake Guide to finding a job in Blacksburg, Virginia and the surrounding region with links to each site's employment page.  (Links open a new window.)

City/Town Government/Region




More Blacksburg, Virginia guides:
Blacksburg, Virginia Rental Property – Global Handshake Guide
Angel Investor Guide to Blacksburg, Virginia

Blacksburg LodgingSponsored by Blacksburg Lodging - where to stay and what to do in Blacksburg, Virginia and surrounding areas.  Blacksburg Lodging is a division of Smart College Visit, Inc

Elevator Pitches: A Teachable Moment

As founder of a startup, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is deciding what to say when asked “What is Smart College Visit?” I have found it difficult to be succinct and to use language that pretty much everyone could understand.

For example, if I said, “We’re a content marketing company serving higher-ed,” most people would likely smile politely and move on. If I said, “We build mobile apps,” they’d nod, smile, and say, “Who doesn’t?”

Fortunately, I came across this video by Adeo Ressi, founder of TheFunded, and the startup incubator Founder Institute. Here, he lays out a perfect “how to” for crafting the one-sentence pitch for startups.



My company, Smart College Visit, 
is developing a travel planning site
to make it easy for college-bound teens and their parents
to get directions, find hotels near campus, and search for 
information about each school they want visit.
Revision <formal>
Smart College Visit is a travel planning site that makes it easy for college-bound teens and their parents to search for information about each school they want to visit, get directions, and find hotels near campus. 
Conversational  <informal>
We make it easy for college-bound teens & parents to get info about colleges, get directions, & find hotels near each campus they want to visit.

Z. Kelly Queijo is the founder of Smart College Visit, Inc., a Blacksburg, Virginia-based higher-ed marketing company focused on mobile app and mobile web development with a special interest in creating travel and location-based tools and services., a college search and college visit planning portal, has been listed in the Top 100 education advice blogs and as one of the top 5 college visit sites. You are invited to follow her on Twitter @collegevisit and to read more about Smart College Visit on Handshake 2.0.

Smart College Visit, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.