5 Best Features of LinkedIn

LinkedInLinkedIn is designed for business networking and sharing. This makes LinkedIn a very different type of Social Media platform from sites like Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn allows professionals to connect and interact on a professional level.

Some of the best features of LinkedIn include;

  1. Resume – LinkedIn is a great way to show off your experience and education! Not to mention any awards you may have received or associations that you may belong to.
  2. Recommendations – LinkedIn allows people to post public recommendations for you and your services. These recommendations are specific to a company or position and can be of great value to your profile.
  3. Groups – LinkedIn groups are a great way to associate you with others in your field or geographic area. Groups are also a great source of information and networking.
  4. Events – Linked In allows you to publicize events to your network and collect RSVPs. It also allows you to search for local events and events that others may be attending.
  5. Links – LinkedIn allows you to publicize links to websites and twitter accounts at the top of your profile. In addition, LinkedIn has applications that allow you to link to other sites, such as word press, drop box, Slide Share, and more.

For tips and suggestions on how to best use and establish a LinkedIn profile, contact Office Solutions ME for a personalized consultation and tutorial.

Also feel free to view my LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn profile of Kathrine Farris

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5 Tips for a GREAT Networking Event!

Networking is essential for the small business owner and entrepreneur, especially in the start-up or growth phases. Networking allows you to meet other like-minded people, learn about local business and events, and hopefully find your next great client(s)!

With all the networking options available and the limited schedules of busy entrepreneurs, what makes a GREAT networking event? What makes an event worth your time? And what should you be sure to offer at the next event you host?

Here are 5 aspects that I look for in a GREAT event;

  1. Attendance – First thing’s first, you need people to show up, in order to have a great networking event. Getting the word out about an event is essential. Post it on any local calendars that are available, send out e-mails to your contact list, and use social media to promote your event.
  2. Atmosphere – The venue needs to be easy to find, welcoming, and have ample open space to allow for mingling, but there should also be seating for those that prefer it.
  3. Diversity – The attendees should come from diverse industries, to encourage and promote sharing of information and interesting topics.
  4. Mingling – Attendees should be encouraged to meet new people. If this does not seem to be happening, then the coordinators should take initiative to introduce people or offer some form of activity that encourages mingling.
  5. Food and Beverages – While the quality and quantity of food and/or beverages can vary greatly, depending on the time and place of the event, there should be something available to help attendees fill those moments in between mingling.

I found all of these factors at two local events that I attend regularly; Maine Successful Thinkers and Maine Freedom Networking! You can typically meet and greet with dozens of local business owners, walking away with at least 15-20 business cards from people who you had meaningful conversations with. Plus, they are fun to attend!

If you are looking for local places to network, check out the Maine Networking Calendar on the Office Solutions ME website!

Feel free to contact us for networking details and coordination, and read our earlier post for more information about how to be a great networker!

5 Ways to Network like a Pro!

Networking is essential for the small business owner and entrepreneur, especially in the start-up or growth phases. Networking allows you to meet other like-minded people, learn about local business and events, and hopefully find your next great client(s)!

With all the networking options available and the limited schedules of busy entrepreneurs, it is important to make the most of each event!

What can you do to make sure that every networking event you attend is worthwhile? Here are five tips to help you maximize your networking opportunities;

  1. Mingle – Work the room! Catch the eye of someone you don’t know and introduce your self. A good way to do this is to give someone a compliment, but be genuine. Make a goal for yourself to meet at least two new people at each event you attend!
  2. Exchange Cards – Bring plenty of business cards! Create a system for easy card access and exchange. For example use one pocket for giving cards and the other pocket for collecting cards. Be sure to look at each person’s card when they hand it to you, this will help you to remember the person and their name.
  3. Introductions – Use your connections to help others! Make sure you introduce people who you know or even just met. This helps increase the effectiveness of the event and increases the chance that they will do the same for you. It also helps to include at least one fact about the people you are introducing. For example where they work or what their hobby is. This demonstrates your listening skills and lets others know you are paying attention.
  4. Invitations – Invite others to attend events with you! Let clients, coworkers, friends, and who ever else would be interested know where you will be. This allows you more opportunity to (re)connect with people you already know and be introduced to people you don’t know.
  5. Follow-up – After the event, be sure to follow-up with the people you met. Send them an e-mail, write them a note, connect with them on LinkedIn or Facebook, whatever your style is, use it. Don’t let your time go to waste, stay connected!

And although it should go without saying, avoid drinking too much at networking events. When you’re uncomfortable or anxious, it’s easy to over indulge, but this is when it should be avoided. You would hate to make a bad first impression.

If you are looking for local places to network in Southern Maine, check out the Maine Networking Calendar on the Office Solutions ME website!

Feel free to contact us for networking details and coordination, and we look forward to seeing you at local events!

Thank You!

1stCelebrating 1 Year!!

It’s official! As of June first, Office Solutions ME has officially been in business for 1 full year!

This first year in business has really been a year of exploration, discovering business needs, networking and meeting fellow entrepreneurs, and developing partnerships in our community. We have truly enjoyed developing and building our business and look forward to the many years to come!

We have had the opportunity to learn so much about our clients and their businesses as we have assisted them in a vast array of support services. We have helped over fifteen different companies, with services ranging from data input, to small event planning, to Facebook training sessions. No two projects have been the same, and we have appreciated every opportunity to assist our clients!

We have recently had the pleasure of joining the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce and the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce. We regularly attend networking events held by such groups as Maine Successful Thinkers, Freedom Networking of Maine, and the Maine Women’s Business Center. We have also shown our support for such organizations as the Maine Women’s Fund – Women Standing Together, Pecha Kucha Night, the CLIMB Good Friday Breakfast, and the Maine Women’s Network, through sponsorship opportunities.

So… Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Thanks to everyone that has contributed to the success of Office Solutions ME!

Thanks to our clients! Thanks to our supporters! Thanks to our coaches and mentors! Thank you for helping to make our first year in business a fantastic one!

Want to learn more about Office Solutions ME and what we’ve been up to this year? We’d love to talk to you, feel free to contact us!

Kathrine Farris
Owner & Virtual Professional
Office Solutions ME

5 Cool Tools for Business

Every business (and business owner) needs tools to get the job done. Small businesses need especially versatile tools, that they can easily master and that offer the necessary value.

Office Solutions ME provides Virtual Administrative Support, so many of the tools that we use are software based or allow us to access the software that we use.

Here are 4 of the tools that we use most often, and really couldn’t operate without;

  1. Smart Phone – Not just a phone, but a miniature computer! We use the iPhone. It allows us to access the Internet, e-mail, social media sites, and so much more from almost anywhere! We can download applications that allow us to view and alter Microsoft Office documents, make calls via VOIP, scan QR Codes, and an endless number of other geeky yet useful things.
  2. Laptop – A notebook computer is really essential for any company, but completely unavoidable for a virtual assistant! To be able to complete client work virtually, you have to be accessible and able to respond efficiently. A laptop ensures that it is possible to meet your client’s demands from (almost) anywhere. This was our most recent purchase, as we upgraded from a 6-year-old Averatec to a Sony Vaio.
  3. Scanner – Green is gold! Being able to scan and e-mail documents, instead of faxing or snail mailing is another necessity. This improves productivity and creates less waste. Plus you can then store your documents electronically and save valuable office space. We choose the Canon MX860.
  4. External Drive – Back-up is King! With all of our electronic documents and important e-mails, we need to make sure we are protecting our assets appropriately. With an external hard drive, we can create protected and encrypted back-up files quickly and easily. We chose the Western Digital My Passport Elite.
  5. Blue Tooth Headset – Multi-tasking is easier when your hands are free, so our 5th and final cool tool for this post is the hands-free blue tooth headset. There are many versions, at various prices, but they are an essential for note taking, typing, driving, and other tasks without missing a call. We have a very basic Jabra that does the trick.

Please feel free to share if you have any other business tools that you can’t live without, or if you have questions about any that we have listed.

For product reviews and prices, we recommend cnet.com.

Need help getting organized and being productive? Please Contact Us for help with Administrative Support and Business Developement!

Entrepreneurs Getting Started, Getting Organized!

What better time to talk about Entrepreneurs, with EWeek right around the corner! EWeek Maine, February 20th through 27th, encourages and supports entrepreneurs with panel discussions, workshops and networking events, designed to foster entrepreneurial education and lifelong learning. Go to http://www.eweekmaine.com/  for a complete listing of events.

Not many of us have one-dimensional lives. Most of us have expectations and requirement coming from many directions; bosses, employees, spouse, children, parents, teachers, students, neighbors, etc… In order to ensure all of these responsibilities are fulfilled and expectations are met, we have to be organized. This holds true, and is even multiplied, if you are the business owner.

Business owners now need to consider not just how to complete an order and the process of making the widget, but also the marketing, security, finances, regulations, taxes, etc… that go into running a company. While these tasks may grow with regards to the company size, they exist on some level at any size. So what is an Entrepreneurs or Solopreneurs (single person company) to do? How can you effectively wear all of these hats?

Here are some options/suggestions;

  1. Take the time to learn all of the functions of running a successful business. Just bite the bullet, take classes, attend seminars, and make time to learn the material.
  2. Find a mentor or business counselor that can help you find resources and give you tips. It’s important to find someone that will be honest with you, someone who continues to expand their knowledge and share that with you.
  3. Hire a consultant or business coach that has experience in running a business or in a particular aspect that you are struggling with. Again, It’s important to find someone that will be honest with you, someone you can trust to help keep you on track.
  4. Get a partner or hire an employee to help share the work load. When choosing to work with others, you add the human resource function to your plate, so be sure that is something you are prepared for.

Here are some websites that I have found helpful as tools and resources for getting started, getting organized, and learning how about the many aspects of running a business;

National Resources

Local (Maine) Resources

If you are not already a member of the Maine Entrepreneurs Group or the Maine Successful Thinkers Group on LinkedIn, I would highly suggest it. There are some great resource discussions.

Feel free to comment on additional resources that you have found helpful!

If you are looking for local places to network, check out our newly created Maine Networking Calendar.