Archive for the ‘Business Strategy’ Category

The best offense is a good defense: Disaster preparedness essentials

January 12, 2012

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Guest blog by Cindy Bates, Vice President of Microsoft’s US SMB Organization

Planning for “the worst” isn’t quite as fun as refining a business plan or coming up with new ways to market your products or services, but doing so just might make the difference between the success or failure of your company. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen following a disaster; and, of the remaining companies, at least 25 percent will close in two years.

Yet, small businesses that take time to develop a disaster preparedness plan that includes preventive measures as well as actions to be taken in the event of disaster greatly increase their odds of withstanding catastrophe. To get started with creating a disaster preparedness plan, I recommend small- business decision makers consider the following:

  • Insurance plans and policies – Understanding the intricacies of an insurance plan or policy requires a good bit of time, but it’s a step well worth taking now since it’s unlikely there will be much time to do so when disaster strikes. Also, you might notice gaps in your plan that can be addressed before it’s too late.
  • Money management – It’s always wise to keep your finances in order, but all the more so when it comes to disaster preparedness. Have all financial obligations, including bill payments, payroll details and account information, in a safe place, since these responsibilities will still require attention even in the midst of dealing with a disaster.
  • Cloud-based software for storage and more – Cloud-based software services designed for small businesses store data in secure, offsite locations and provide access to data from anywhere employees have an Internet connection. If your physical office is hit by a natural disaster, you’d still be able to access your information for business continuity. Furthermore, many small businesses have found cloud-based software to provide a host of other benefits, including access to enterprise-class capabilities at an affordable price.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home or small- business PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install and easy to use and that is automatically updated to protect your PC with the latest technology. The greater the security of your PCs, the less the chance that a virtual disaster like cybercrime could impact your business.
  • Technology      updates – By maintaining updated technology, small businesses can      prevent many virtual disasters from happening in the first place. Install updates      whenever prompted to do so, or set company PCs to install updates      automatically.
  • Virtualization –      Virtualization consolidates physical server hardware onto virtual machines      that live in the cloud. This not only helps small businesses recover more      swiftly from disaster but also can lead to cost savings and more efficient      operations.

Small businesses that need to implement new technology systems to better prepare for disaster should engage the help of a qualified IT services provider and can find a list of Atlanta-based providers here.

Also, for more advice on preventing and preparing for disaster, check out this free eGuide on disaster preparedness. Finally, I encourage you to keep tabs on my blog, where I regularly address a range of business and technology issues relevant to small businesses.

Cynthia (“Cindy”) Bates is the Vice President of Microsoft’s US SMB Organization where she is responsible for the company’s end-to-end SMB sales and marketing efforts, including SMB strategy, business development, regional field sales and national distribution sales, channel marketing, and customer marketing. 

Cindy and her team align Microsoft’s resources across customer and partner engagement to drive success in serving the millions of Small and Medium Sized Businesses in the US, helping them start, grow and thrive by leveraging today’s powerful and affordable technologies. At the pillar of these technologies lies cloud computing, in which Microsoft has more than 15 years of experience and understands how to meet the demands of SMBs for simplicity and impact, with enterprise-grade capabilities, flexibility and affordability in a familiar environment. 

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Requiem for the Blackberry

October 17, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Last week’s Blackberry outage has caused lots of withdrawal pains.  The blogs and message boards are filled with comments defending and vilifying Research in Motion (RIM) Blackberry’s creator.  Network interruptions are inevitable as we have seen with Sony, Google, Microsoft and Netflix. Someday we may have uninterruptible networks, but the departure or threatened departure from Blackberry seems to be more about the availability of multimedia, cooler mobile devices than a network disruption.

For years Blackberry has been the choice in mobile devices for corporations. You can argue that this is because they are more secure because of how RIM handles encryption or the limitation of online features. Certainly iPhone and Android users can be more social online because their devices support many more apps.  They can access Facebook, Tweet, Farmville and Angry Birds from anywhere that they have a signal.  The available apps make it easy to stay connected.  But with the convenience of being online all the time, some sacrifices are made in being secure.  If you want a real scare, google “mobile device hacking” and read some of the recent hacking successes and access your vulnerability.

It really comes down to which device you are most comfortable with and how easily you can change.  Corporations like Blackberry for many reasons including solid systems and the ability to regulate users. Often corporations don’t change their infrastructure because of the expense of installing new equipment and training employees to use and support the new system.  Rationale always states the benefits of one technology over the other to support the choice, but equal arguments can be made for practically any technology choice.

As interesting and amusing as it is to read the comments from the technology aficionados, it is as important to balance the arguments with facts.  Facts may not change the product choices we make – that’s a subject for another blog – some products will win and others will lose based completely on preference and little on the superior technology.  Blackberry once led the pack but is now struggling for market share in a sea of products that offer more. The loyal followers of Apple and Google are happy to share their opinions on why their choice is the best and the features that make mobility fun and efficient.

Talk Like a CIO

August 1, 2011

Talk Like a CIO[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]The Chief Information Officer (CIO), sometimes called Chief Technology Officer (CTO), coined in the early 1980s is a rather recent addition to the corporate governance structure. It makes sense that the position coincided with the technology explosion as companies implemented IT to gain competitive advantage. Arguably, what was once IT competitive advantage is now essential for daily operations. Even so someone has to evaluate IT investment to be sure that it serves the organization by providing benefits at an affordable cost. Without that oversight, technology projects would be rapidly become science projects that few, other than the IT department, could understand.

No disrespect to IT folks. As an engineer, I have seen this phenomenon many times. A concept to make the organization more efficient, a product more user-friendly or automate manual tasks spirals into the depths of a techno-black hole with little hope of escape. As an engineering manager, I always put two engineers on a project as a way to get a product suitable for the end-user. Often one engineer working alone would come up with solutions too complicated for the casual user. Technical elegance usually trumps corporate benefit in the technology mind. For the company to realize a return-on-investment from any technology project, someone has to watch the ROI and that’s where the CIO is essential.

The CIO doesn’t have to be a technology expert. In fact, many of today’s top CIOs don’t have a computer science, engineering or programming background, they have a business background and leadership skills. They have learned how to apply technology to solve business problems, foster change and manage the bottom line.

Although definitions will vary, here is a short list of common terms so that you can – Ay oh whey oh, Talk like a CIO.

ROI – Return on Investment is not a uniquely CIO phrase, it is spoken freely by all C-levels and is specific to the investment efficiency required by an organization. Every company defines its payback period and specifics for an acceptable ROI. Often a technology project does not generate revenue so the ROI can be tricky to quantify. Here is where the CIO can be creative and use avoided costs or cost savings to frame the ROI discussion.

Payback Period – The amount of time that it takes to make up or payback the cost of the project. Usually used for revenue projects, but the same rules as in ROI can apply.

Technology Proposal – Whether you are developing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to bid the job or completing the job in-house, you need a proposal that has a statement of need and cost-benefit justification. The CIO is critical in ensuring that the proposal meets the organizational needs and obtains budget approval.

Cost Benefit Analysis – Exactly what the name implies, to determine if the project is worth funding. In any economic analysis, do nothing is always a choice.

Bleeding Edge Technology – Technology so new that the risk and expense is high.

State of the Art, Leading Edge (or Cutting Edge) Technology – Technology that is at the pinnacle of available solutions. It may or may not provide competitive advantage. This term can be synonymous with Bleeding Edge Technology.

Buy In – The commitment of stakeholders to support the decision.

Send me your terms and definitions that help you “Talk like a CIO.”

Get In Touch With Your Creative Side Using Microsoft Office

February 23, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Not that long ago, the only way to get high-quality, professional materials was through a graphic designer.  Printing was a complicated, expensive process that was left to the print shops.  Each project required assembling pictures, graphics and content that was camera-ready. 

Today, we have access to everything needed to make agency-quality marketing materials with full-color and amazing graphics. Brochures, mailers and newsletters can be printed on-demand or in the perfect quantity to reducing waste and keep the offering fresh.  To save more and reach the online audience, electronic files are brilliant and easy to distribute.  If you have an idea, a good eye and the right tools, you can make magic. 

Microsoft Office offers the right tools with its Office 2010 Suite of Applications.  Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Publisher provide improved and enhanced features for creating and publishing. Many of the features are cross-platform so you can learn a skill in one application and use it in another.  There are a host of classes for beginner, intermediate and advanced users that can be taken in a classroom environment or online depending on your best learning method.  Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and others offer free, online classes that are perfect for the self-learner.

Word is the standard for creating and formatting documents of all types from simple letters to documents with a table of contents, index and glossary. It makes the task of creating and editing documents easy.  Tools like spell check and thesaurus make us look smart and polished. New and improved photo-editing tools let you transform pictures right in Word 2010 – no extra software needed. Change color saturation, temperature, brightness, and contrast to turn a simple Word document into a work of art.  Turn text into visual effects with enhanced text effects and SmartArt graphics. Change basic bullet-points into compelling visuals and add text effects like shadow, glow, reflection, and 3-D in just a few clicks.  With co-authoring, you can edit at the same time as others, even if you’re working from different locations, and keep versions in sync with version control. This is a great way to eliminate typos (ever used a there for their or your for you’re?) by having others review your work for content and correctness.

PowerPoint is not just for presentations, it also makes a great coordinating tri-fold or handout.  Use the same theme for marketing materials that you can leave with the prospect to reinforce your message and offering. Creating your presentation in PowerPoint allows you to gather all your thoughts and ideas in one tool.  You have many slide choices and can move, cut, paste and organize to create a coherent flow of information without leaving the program.  Adding graphics, diagrams, video and sound is easier than ever. 

Excel graphs, charts and sparklines explain trends and comparisons with strong visuals.  Whenever numbers are involved, visuals are powerful tools to simplify the message and give at-a-glance significance. Use sparklines to graphically display data in a single cell.  You can display data in line, column or win/loss format to highlight trends.

Publisher helps you create eye-catching brochures, newsletters, postcards, greeting cards and email messages.  With the built-in and online templates, you can find a style for any publication. The prebuilt building blocks give an assortment of page parts like sidebars, stories and columns for creating professional newsletters and case studies. Add calendars, borders and advertisement blocks for community or school newsletters. Stunning graphics and images are easily added and use OpenType typography for expert typesetting effects.

Get your creative juices flowing! Experiment with different looks and practice with different styles.  Start with a concept and use Microsoft Office 2010 to create brilliant, flawless materials for your home, school or business.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

Living on the Edge with Your Data Backup and Recovery Strategy?

January 5, 2011

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]One of the biggest risks you can take is not backing up your data.  Sure, you may never experience a disk failure, but if you do it will be a disaster.  Ask anyone who has suffered a data loss and they will tell you about the distress and panic when they realized that the data was gone forever.  Data loss can devastate your operations and cripple your organization.  But for a problem with such disastrous results, it has an easy fix. 

Backing up data is relatively easy and economical on the front side and provides an easy recovery method in case of a disk loss or failure.  Backup costs are a fraction of recovery costs and sometimes no amount of money or effort can recover data from a severely damaged disk.  

Today’s technology provides many cost-effective ways to protect your data.  For a business system, start with a strategy that uses the concept of redundancy to duplicate data, employs a serious backup method and includes disaster recovery.  Your data backup strategy should be proportional to the value of your data.  Don’t cut corners, be sure to include any data that is essential to your business or would be difficult to reconstruct.

So why doesn’t every business have a good backup plan that works?   Either it’s too expensive or too complicated.  Backup doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to be executed and verified on a regular schedule.  If you manage and verify your backup daily then you can choose less expensive technology.

Backup doesn’t have to be complicated, but automated solutions cost more. If you want a solution that takes most of the guess-work out of backups and gives disaster recovery protection, they are available but will cost considerably more. 

It is important to choose the technology and strategy that works for you.  Always be diligent in performing and storing your backups. Below we discuss some of the most used concepts and technologies.  

Disk Redundancy – Writing to two or more disks at the same time, provides data protection in case of a disk failure.  A redundant array of inexpensive disks (RAID) will divide and replicate data so that a single or minority of disk failure does not cause data loss.  RAID technology is mostly employed on servers and data storage devices.  It can be hardware or software configured.  Although RAID does give a level of protection against data loss, it does not replace backing up your data.

Primary Data Backup – The data storage or repository can be tape, disk-to-disk and/or virtual tape using an external drive (SAN, NAS or USB) used to store the backup. The backup scheme can be full, incremental, differential or continuous.  Each scheme has individual requirements that may include software to create the storage archive. 

Secondary Data Backup – This is usually an offsite disk-to-disk or online backup plan, but can be another method that gives a second copy of the repository. Online backup services are very affordable and keep a near real-time copy of files.  A limitation of online backup is bandwidth.  For large stores of data, the initial upload can take considerable time.  Some services allow you to send a disk with the base files then only changes are uploaded. 

Disaster Recovery – This allows you to build your system from the ground up.  Often a disaster recovery plan includes an image (complete and exact copy of the disk(s) on your system) and a current backup.  Images include the operating system, configuration, licenses, applications and data.  Images are often called a “bare metal” restore because they allow you to overlay the image onto a new system without any prior installation of an operating system or software. 

Protecting User Data – Users should save data to a shared network drive and be included in the backup.  If there are files that are only on a laptop or desktop, they should be backed up individually. This can be done easily with an external drive or online file backup.

 A common data backup and recovery configuration for a server:

  1. Data Redundancy as RAID 10 – Mirrored and striped sets in a 2 disk array.
  2. Primary Data Backup – Network Attached Storage (NAS) using Windows Server 2008 Backup.
  3. Secondary Data Backup – Online backup service backing up all critical files.
  4. Disaster Recovery – Full image stored offsite. 

This is not an exhaustive list of available backup methods.  Data backup has many parts, facets and options.  For a good data backup strategy, start with an overview of your system and decide your level of involvement.  From there, you can build a backup strategy and disaster recovery plan so that in the event of a data loss, you are protected. 

If you have comments or need help formulating a plan, contact me at mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

What hackers want

November 5, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Especially after someone has been the victim of a hacking attack, they want to know why. Hackers have many motives and trying to decipher their behavior is complicated. The classification of white hats, black hats, grey hats and such is an interesting attempt to legitimatize electronic spying and sabotage.  Perhaps there are “good hackers” that perform a valuable service, but most attacks are malicious in nature.  Generally, hackers want to take something from you, teach you a lesson or show their programming skills.

Taking something from you.  This can be financial information, social media login and password, your time or your peace of mind.  Many victims of infections that cause pop-ups with objectionable material are traumatized.  They often react like the victim of a physical crime.  Anyone that has been hit with difficult to remove malware knows that it can be time-consuming and expensive to remove the infection.

Teaching you a lesson.  Hacking may have started as practical jokes that exploited vulnerabilities for pleasure and recognition, but it has grown into an industry that steals billions of dollars of productivity each year. The pranks of today can cause great harm, intended or not.  A recent Twitter Prank illustrated how disruptive it can be to “play around” on the Internet. Some may find justification for causing disruption in that they are just exposing vulnerabilities, but it is harmful and illegal.  Malware is vandalism.

The best defense is a good offense.  Implement appropriate protections for your electronics.  Computer or cyber security takes many of its strategies from the physical world.  You use locks for your house and car.  You may have an alarm system, but the amount of protection is related to the value of the property.  For instance, Fort Knox has fences and armed guards that protect the fortress.  You should use the same strategy to protect your computer systems – the more valuable the information, the more you should invest in protection.

Vulnerabilities, Threats and Consequences (VTC).  Determine the assets to protect and then analyze the vulnerabilities, threats and consequences. Just like with your physical property, use your assessment of the risk to determine the protection. Start with a review of your firewall and make sure you have a good backup of your system.  Backups are an essential part of a disaster recovery plan and are especially economical if you ever have to restore.  Also, use a malware protector in addition to your spam and virus protection. You may want to double-up on the malware protection.  For many companies, enterprise level protection is essential.  Protection includes content filtering in addition to the essential spam, virus, spyware, adware and ransomware protection.

It is difficult to stay ahead of the hackers.  There are so many of them and they spend a great deal of time working on the next attack.  Certainly, if that effort was put to positive use, we would be on the way to solving world hunger.  But meanwhile, use practical computer measures to protect yourself, your company and your family.

If you have suggestions or comments, please contact me at: mary@lansystems.com.

Evolution of Office Space

October 31, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Guest author Scott Perry, www.ATLOfficeSpace.com

Historically, occupancy costs have always had a big effect on a company’s bottom line. Depending on how a company is structured, they are usually the second or third highest cost of operating a company, along with the workforce/personnel and IT.  With the changes in the economy from the rapid growth in technology, to the recession, how has the environment of the workspace changed over the last few years?  As businesses cut budgets, it has become more prevalent in almost every sector of the economy, that companies have made real estate decisions to help to reduce their expenditures. 

As someone who represents Tenants with their office leases, it has always been a part of my job to reduce my client’s occupancy costs. However, the role of advising clients with their office space has even more so today, developed into a consulting business.  We are seeing before us, a changing corporate culture and a new generation of business owners and employees that have entered the market.  Following are a few aspects of the workplace that affects the modern office of today.

A new generation:     The traditional office has changed in ways that have scaled back the average square feet per employee.  Not only are we seeing executives move from being in a large office, but they are moving into smaller offices and in some cases into a workstation with the rest of the employees. The company culture of collaboration has emerged as more conference rooms have become more relevant in the workplace.  Co-working has become more popular as have the concept of hoteling with telecommuting.

Technology:     Technology has grown at an extremely rapid pace and has had an impact on the amount of space that is needed.  The capability to eliminate record rooms or large server rooms has lead to digital record keeping and a data centers.  Cloud computing has created an ease of access through remote sites by the internet, usually in the form of web based applications with customization by the end user. 

Sustainability:      Sustainability has come to the forefront of commercial real estate and is here to stay.  In addition to being a good steward to the environment, the advantages of office buildings going green have financial gains over the long term for both Tenant and Landlord.  Over time, this will help reduce the operating costs of the building, which is directly passed down to the tenant. 

Scott Perry, The Eidson Group, LLC, Corporate Real Estate Tenant Advisory Services

Go to www.EidsonGroup.com for our contact information, additional articles, and our disclosure information.

Large or dual monitors mean happier, more productive employees

September 26, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]The NEC commissioned University of Utah study shows increased productivity, job satisfaction and an incredible return on investment. It is not surprising that a monitor manufacturer would recommend larger and multiple monitor arrangements, but what do users think? There are two trends. The first is for smaller, lighter, mobile devices for on-the-go professionals and the second is for more screen real estate for the stationary worker.

On-the-go professionals need access from anywhere, anytime so they can stay connected.  The screen sizes of mobile devices are definitely trending up, but in general they are still much, much smaller than desktop monitors.  Most mobile users don’t need multiple windows. They can switch between applications or use tools to work more efficiently. Mobile devices are great for staying connected and having information at your fingertips.  They are not efficient for programming that requires in-depth analysis or complicated tasks.  Many types of IT systems do not allow access or control from a mobile device because of the chance of errors and security concerns.

Stationary users benefit from larger or dual monitors depending on the work they do on the computer.  If a user has two or more applications that they cut-and-paste between, dual monitors are a great for increased productivity and error reduction. You don’t have to stop with a dual arrangement.  Triple and quad monitors are used in many situations, like control monitoring, that give the user needed information at a glance without having to switch between windows.  But size does become a diminishing return and if the monitor is too big it can be a productivity drain.  The NEC report shows single 26 inch and dual 20 inch as the upper limit.

Desk space is important.  With flat panel monitors, desk space is not a problem as with CRTs.  Usually you can comfortably place two monitors or a larger monitor on a desk without obscuring view.  If you want to be accessible to your customers, co-workers and employees, don’t sit with your back to the door or with a monitor hiding your face.

There is a good bit of research on monitors and productivity that you can use. Read the NEC Study or do some Internet research for more suggestions on how to be more productive with your computer monitors.  Make a list of what tasks cause you and your staff the most irritation and solve them first. 

If you have suggestions or comments, please contact me at: mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

Using Facebook to promote your business in 5 easy steps

June 7, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Facebook can be used to promote your business by building an Official Page.  You can open a Facebook business account that has limited privilege or you can use your personal account to create a Company Page.  Facebook only allows an individual one account and it is a violation subject to your account being terminated if you create more than one account.

If you choose to attach a business page to your personal page, you can promote your business to your friends by suggesting that they “like” your page.  Whether you use a personal or business account, you can promote your business with ads.

You can mix your personal and business page by sharing posts, photos and sharing with friends or you can keep them completely separate.  This is determined by your security settings, how you post information and who you confirm as a friend. If you worry about what family or high school friends are going to post on your wall, consider keeping your accounts separate by not sharing information between them. For more information on business accounts, go to Facebook Help Center Business Accounts.

Now let’s get down to business promotion:

1) Create your Official Page.  This page can be linked to your personal page or can be created as a business account.  Business accounts have limited privilege. In order to make an official company page, you’ll have to have a Facebook account business or personal.  If you currently use your Facebook account to connect with family and personal friends, consider keeping the pages separate.  It is possible to have all your “friends” under the same Facebook account by managing security settings, but it requires that you manage your account.  You don’t want items posted to your wall that are not appropriate for your business friends.

2) Create your Official Page for a local business, product or group.  Keep in mind your brand as you add character to your page.  Your business summary and logo are essential to branding.  You can add more detailed information and photos to give more personality.  You can be formal, keep it light-n-lively or anywhere in between.  If you need ideas, go to some other Official Pages of businesses in your industry or area. Don’t try to be just like another page or site, just use as a way to spark you own creativity.  If your page will be a group effort, make sure you establish the ground rules and that one person is charged with brand monitoring.

3) Post to your Company Wall.  If you have a blog, you should link or add your posts to Facebook.  If you have decided to post photos, upload flattering photos of company events individually or in albums.  Keep it interesting and mix up the types of  posts to appeal to your fans.  The frequency of posts is up to you, but once you start make sure you are consistent.  Start with once or twice a week to test the required time commitment.

4) Promote your Company Page by suggesting to your friends.  Facebook recently replaced the “Become a Fan” button with the “Like” button.  Not everyone likes the new terminology and the debate continues on what it is to be a fan or like a page.  For your Company Page, the important point is to get people to like and visit your page.  Provide useful information and use as a way to drive visits to your blog or website. 

5) Promote your Company Page with an ad.  You can purchase impressions or clicks and choose your target audience. You can create variations of ads to test your marketing campaign using different logos, text and demographics. 

These are 5 easy steps to start promoting your business with Facebook.  Experiment to see what gives you the best interactions.  The Insights box, visible to administrators, gives you an indication of the amount of interaction with your business “friends.”   And one good like, deserves another. Go to the businesses you know, favorite their pages and like their posts to get the ball rolling.

If you have questions or suggestions for other topics, please leave a comment or contact me at mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical tips, please visit our website: http://www.lansystems.com/resources.html

Jazz up your LinkedIn profile in 5 easy steps

June 1, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]If you are going to use your LinkedIn profile to promote yourself or your business, be sure you jazz it up a bit.  Make sure your content is informative and interesting and that you use the new features and tools to add color and content.

Even if you don’t want to spend much time on LinkedIn, try our 5 easy steps. They will give your profile depth and make you more interesting to your connections.

1) Make sure you profile is complete with present and previous positions, education, awards and specialties.

2) Give and request recommendations.  Write thoughtful recommendations for connections that point out an exceptional or unique circumstance or attribute. Don’t be shy, request recommendations from connections that will share your talents and achievements.

3) Add your Blog. Under More… go to Application Directory and add your Blog.  Use WordPress or Blog Link to display your Blog on your LinkedIn page.  You can show the recent posts or choose those that will be fed to LinkedIn. Blog Link will allow you to add blogs from your connections. If you don’t have a Blog, add your Tweets to LinkedIn.  If you don’t have Tweets, you better get with the social media program!

4) Put a couple of interesting books that you have read in your Reading List.  Choose books that are unique and distinctive to add depth to your online persona.  Books with lively covers will add colorful graphics to your profile.  Change your books periodically to keep it interesting.

5) Upload a presentation about you, your company or a topic you have presented. Use Google Presentation to upload or create presentations in .ppt format.  Google Apps  costs $50 per year there is a trial version available. But if you don’t want to buy anything, use Slideshare to upload up to three presentations – it’s free.

These are 5 easy steps to jazz up your LinkedIn profile. For more ideas, go to the LinkedIn Application Directory. Experiment with the other applications like Polls and Events.  If you don’t like the result, applications are easy to remove.

If you have questions or suggestions for other topics, please leave a comment or contact me at mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical tips, please visit our website: http://www.lansystems.com/resources.html