TNCC Blog

August 20th, 2014

Fred HarrahLooks like summer is finally winding down with the kids going back to school, the baseball season finally in its final months, and the NFL season is about ready to start. Hopefully the weather will cool down a bit and California will start getting some much needed rainfall. Hear this has been the driest year on record.

The business community seems to be slowly turning itself around, people are starting to spend money, and the housing market is picking up a little steam. From an IT perspective it’s been a pretty quiet summer from years past. People are awaiting the Fall Apple new product releases with a newer bigger iPhone, faster iPad’s, and even an “i-Wearable” device on the horizon. Microsoft is continuing to move more into “the Cloud” with their offerings and upgrades. So we have a lot of new fun technology coming on the horizon.

Our articles this month focus on helping our local small business clients take better advantage of the newer technology so they can operate more efficiently and save some much needed cash in the process. You need to keep in mind that your company is probably not in the IT business and most small company’s still are not leveraging IT as a profit center for the company. Just look at the ROI you are currently achieving from your technology and you will have the answer to that question. Chances are the ROI is in the red. IF you need some help in turning that around then gives us a call we are here to help at (760) 744-1780 and ask for Fred.

August Article summary is as follows:

Article 1 – 6 Misconceptions about Outsourcing

Have you ever given thought to outsourcing your company’ IT? Most of our clients aren’t in the IT business and it shows. But IT is typically one of the largest expenditures of companies that rely on computer technology to run their operations effectively, IT staff are not cheap, and once systems get put in place they don’t always get maintained the way the need to be to insure optimum trouble free performance. Outsourcing can provide a company with a lot of benefits – such as highly skilled technical and engineering staff, a proactive maintenance program, staff training, along with relationships with key industry resources that they have at their disposal. This article highlights the pros and cons of outsourcing.

Article 2 – 5 Common Security issues

Security should always be a key concern for every business regardless of size but is typically the last thing most company’s think about from an IT perspective. Be diligent and stay awake. This article will offer you some tips of things you can do to protect you computers, data, and network from end to end

Article 3 – Server virtualization: more bang for buck?

Going a little over to the technical side of the IT street here with some insight into “Virtualization” and what it can do for the average small business. Virtualization can be a big cost saver while improving the overall efficiency of the hardware a company purchases. Virtualization has the ability to take one physical server system and convert it into many virtual servers each performing a different task. So you can save money on hardware, software, electricity, and storage costs just to name a few things.

Sincerely,

Fred Harrah, CEO
The Network Co. of California

Topic Article
August 7th, 2014

Security_Aug05_CSecurity of your systems and technology is always an on-going battle and one you will likely never completely win. There are definitive steps you can take to ensure that your systems are secure, but we find that one of the most effective tools is knowledge. If you know a bit about how your systems can be breached, you can ensure a higher level of caution and security. To help, here are five common ways businesses see their systems breached.

1. You are tricked into installing malicious software

One of the most common ways a system’s security is breached is through malware being downloaded by the user. In almost every case where malware is installed the reason is because the user was tricked into downloading it.

A common trick used by hackers is to plant malware in software and then place this software on a website. When a user visits the site, they are informed that they need to download the software in order for the site to load properly. Once downloaded, the malware infects the system. Other hackers send emails out with a file attached, where only the file contains malware.

There are a nearly limitless number of ways you can be tricked into downloading and installing malware. Luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid this:

  • Never download files from an untrusted location - If you are looking at a website that is asking you to download something, make sure it’s from a company you know about and trust. If you are unsure, it’s best to avoid downloading and installing the software.
  • Always look at the name of the file before downloading - Many pieces of malware are often disguised with file names that are similar to other files, with only a slight spelling mistake or some weird wording. If you are unsure about the file then don’t download it. Instead, contact us as we may be able to help verify the authenticity or provide a similar app.
  • Stay away from torrents, sites with adult content, and movie streaming sites - These sites often contain malware, so it is best to avoid them altogether.
  • Always scan a file before installing it - If you do download files, be sure to get your virus scanner to scan these before you open the apps. Most scanners are equipped do this, normally by right-clicking on the file and selecting Scan with….

2. Hackers are able to alter the operating system settings

Many users are logged into their computers as admins. Being an administrator allows you to change any and all settings, install programs, and manage other accounts.

If a hacker manages to access your computer and you are set up as the admin, they will have full access to your computer. This means they could install other malicious software, change settings or even completely hijack the machine. The biggest worry about this however, is if a hacker gets access to a computer that is used to manage the overall network. Should this happen, they could gain control over all the systems on the network and do what they please on it.

In order to avoid this, you should ensure that if a user doesn’t need to install files or change settings on the computer, they do not have administrator access. Beyond this, installing security software like anti-virus scanners and keeping them up to date, as well as conducting regular scans, will help reduce the chances of being infected, or seeing infections spread.

3. Someone physically accesses your computer

It really feels like almost every security threat these days is digital or is trying to infect your systems and network from the outside. However, there are many times when malware is introduced into systems, or data is stolen, because someone has physically had access to your systems.

For example, you leave your computer on when you go for lunch and someone walks up to it, plugs in a USB drive with malware on it and physically infects your system. Or, it could be they access your system and manually reset the password, thereby locking you out and giving them access.

What we are trying to say here is that not all infections or breaches arrive via the Internet. What we recommend is to ensure that you password protect your computer – you need to enter a password in order to access it. You should also be sure that when you are away from your computer it is either turned off, or you are logged off.

Beyond that, it is a good idea to disable drives like CD/DVD and connections like USB if you don’t use them. This will limit the chances that someone will be able to use a CD or USB drive to infect your computer.

4. It’s someone from within the company

We have seen a number of infections and security breaches that were carried out by a disgruntled employee. It could be that they delete essential data, or remove it from the system completely. Some have even gone so far as to introduce highly destructive malware.

While it would be great to say that every business has the best employees, there is always a chance a breach can be carried out by an employee. The most effective way to prevent this, aside from ensuring your employees are happy, is to limit access to systems.

Take a look at what your employees have access to. For example, you may find that people in marketing have access to finance files or even admin panels. The truth is, your employees don’t need access to everything, so take steps to limit access to necessary systems. Combine this with the suggestions above – limiting admin access and installing scanners – and you can likely limit or even prevent employee initiated breaches.

5. Your password is compromised

Your password is the main way you can verify and access your accounts and systems. The issue is, many people have weak passwords. There has been a steady increase in the number of services that have been breached with user account data being stolen. If a hacker was to get a hold of say your username, and you have a weak password, it could only be a matter of time before they have access to your account.

If this happens, your account is compromised. Combine this with the fact that many people use the same password for multiple accounts, and you could see a massive breach leading to data being stolen, or worse – your identity.

It is therefore a good idea to use a separate password for each account you have. Also, make sure that the passwords used are strong and as different as possible from each other. One tool that could help ensure this is a password manager which generates a different password for each account.

If you are looking to learn more about ensuring your systems are secure, contact us today to learn about how our services can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 4th, 2014

web_Aug4_CAs business owners, one of the most challenging tasks is letting go of every part of your business functions. It’s difficult to step back from managing everything, especially when you have invested so much time, energy and resources on your business. This can put a lot of undue stress on yourself and your employees, especially if you aren’t an expert in some business process like IT. When it comes to information technology, however, one of the best solutions you have at your disposal is to outsource it. That being said, some companies still hold out due to common misconceptions. Here are six:

1. It is costly

Talk to some people about outsourcing your IT and the first thing they may mention is how expensive it can be. This comes about because you used to have to invest in expensive hardware and infrastructure that allowed an IT partner to access and manage your systems.

This is simply not true these days, especially with modern technology. Many IT partners offer their services on a per-user or monthly basis, delivered over existing network connections. This makes it easier to budget. Many small businesses have come to realize that outsourcing is a cost-effective solution, especially if they rely on a vast amount of technology.

2. People will lose their jobs

Mention outsourcing and many people get their hackles up, thinking they will be losing their job. While it is true that outsourcing some business processes like manufacturing could well result in a loss of jobs, outsourced IT providers often set up their business to work with existing team members.

These providers exist to essentially fill in the gaps of a business’s IT, or take the existing load off of an overworked IT team. Because business technology is such a wide concept, most IT experts focus on one or two concepts. This means that they don’t have to be involved in every aspect of technology of a business,

Also, as good IT services can help your business run more effectively this can, in turn, lead to a more productive and profitable company. This secures and creates jobs not threatens them. The best way to think of outsourcing your IT is that it won’t cause a loss in jobs, but instead will help provide a stable platform that supports business growth.

3. You lose control over your infrastructure

There is a common concern that when you outsource a business process to another company you lose control over it. When it comes to outsourcing IT, many business owners often believe that they will lose control over their infrastructure because the partner usually installs and maintains this.

While it is true that an IT partner will manage infrastructure, almost every provider operates with your business goals and needs in mind. They will often implement solutions that not only support but improve existing processes while also reducing costs. This leaves you with a stronger business set-up.

4. It’s all or nothing

The idea here is that when you outsource your IT, you have to outsource all of it. In truth, tech solutions are quite flexible and include individual or bundled services that can cover just one area of several aspects of your IT.

The best solution is to outsource the processes where support is weaker. Maybe your IT team is focused on running your online store, so the last thing they probably want to do is implement collaboration software. If you outsource this, you can increase the chance that implementation will go smoothly and you will get the solution you actually want and need.

5. You won’t be compliant with regulatory bodies if you outsource

Many businesses work in industries that have strict compliance regulations about the way data is stored and used. Some business owners think that by remaining in control of this, you will be 100% compliant because you can better control the system.

However;, many IT providers operate in the same industry and face the same regulations time and again. This often means that they can actually provide systems that ensure compliance and are also able to keep abreast of changes; implementing them often quicker than an in-house solution.

6. Service levels will be lower than in-house

There’s something to be said about in-house support. If a computer breaks, support can be there in a matter of minutes to help fix it. Your IT providers however, is usually based in the same geographical location. This means a quick response to in-house calls.

Beyond this, many providers proactively manage systems. This means that they can often tell when something could go wrong before it does, and then take the correct steps to either fix or prevent the issue from happening. It is this proactive approach that really pays off in the long run, largely because it saves you from costly and preventable repairs, not to mention expensive downtime.

If you are looking to learn more about how outsourcing your IT can help, contact us today to learn about our services.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web
July 22nd, 2014

Fred HarrahI hope everyone is having a wonderful summer? The weather has been great for the most part it seems pretty unpredictable hot one day and temperate the next. All I know is that we could desperately use some rain! But it’s a good time to take off for some much needed R&R with the family to someplace new.

TNCC has been busy upgrading some of its service offerings for the local small and medium business clients in San Diego and the surrounding county in order to “Make IT Easy” for people to get their jobs done without all the “IT Stress” we have all experienced. We are seeing a lot of our small business clients take advantage of some nice coset effective cloud solutions which are saving them money and reducing their need for storage! Its great STUFF!

We will be launching our new PRO-ACT Computer Support Services in September. The PRO-ACT program is designed to provide small business clients with Pro-Active IT support to keep their IT up and running around the clock. All clients systems are “Pro-Actively” monitored 24 hours a day and Pro-Actively maintained,  and will include service desk support to assist our clients in resolving technology problems or just to answer questions and provide How To guidance. More information will be provided as this NEW PRO-ACTIVE Computer Support Services program  is closer to its launch date, so stay tuned!

This month we have some great non-technical articles that address the needs of our local SMB clients-

The Cloud - Check Out 6 Cloud solutions for small business

Think your small business isn’t big enough for “the CLOUD”? Well think again, here are 6 ways your company can use the cloud, save money, reduce IT risk, and improve your efficiency. Oh did I mention that some of these suggestions will also reduce the manpower and costs to maintain and support the applications so staff can be better deployed using their time to generate revenue for the company! Who said that IT can’t make money for the company?

BYOD - Check out 4 great tips for BYOD security_AKA…Bring Your Own Device.

Everyone is bringing their own devices into work these days be it a smart Phone an iPad or a Surface Tablet and wanting to connect them to the company network. Great idea right? Well yes and no, Yes – people are providing their own compute resources to work which are often better and faster than the company provides. That’s great but have you thought about the security of the corporate computing resources? Think Edward Snowden as the company’ intellectual property goes out the door every night with your staff. Heaven forbid they lose their iPad on the way home after stopping at the local Starbucks for a cup of Joe!

Business Communications - Check Out Is VoIP right for you?

Without good business communications where would your company be right now? Can you improve your current company communications? It isn’t just about texting, emailing, or just using the phone to communicate any longer. We all know time is money, sharing information or collaborating, maintaining client information, and providing real time access can be key competitive differentiators to any business nowadays. Enter Unified Communications is capable of providing an integrated centralized communications systems that can be shared throughout the company if done correctly.

Personal Business Growth - Check Out 8 important LinkedIn profile steps

From what I have been told close to 80% of the businesspeople in the US has a Linked in account and profile, over 50% of the profiles have less then attractive business profiles. Think that is hurting your image or perhaps not showing you at your best? Here are some tips to refresh your profile and freshen things up a little.

TNCC would love hear from you – Let us know how you like our newsletter, what types of stories you would like to see, what we can improve on. Your feedback is always welcome. We come to work everyday to make IT easy for our clients so if you have a question, need some help feel free to contact us personally @ fharrah@tncc.com or give us a call at (760) 744-1780 and lets chat.

Have a great week and make someone in your life feel special today!

Sincerely,

Fred Harrah, CEO
The Network Co. of California

Topic Article
July 10th, 2014

Security_July07_CBYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is one of the most common business trends of the past couple of years. To many, the idea of bringing their own phone, tablet, laptop, or even computer to the office is ideal because it is a system they are undoubtedly familiar with. They may also view personal devices as better than the office models. Even if you don’t allow your employees to bring their own devices to work, there is a good chance they do anyways. However, this could pose a security risk that needs to be dealt with.

What should I do about BYOD?

The first reaction of many office managers and business owners, worried about security threats that could stem from BYOD, is to impose an outright ban of devices. While telling your staff they are not to use their devices for work may seem like a quick and easy solution, you can be 100% sure that there will be employees who ignore this policy and use their personal devices for work regardless.

This could put your business at a higher security risk if the rule is ignored, especially if you don’t implement any security measures to protect your networks and data. In order to minimize the potential threats BYOD can expose your business to, we suggest you do the following:

1. Consider embracing BYOD

Instead of simply banning personal devices in the workplace take a step back and look to see if there are any benefits BYOD can offer. For example, if you operate on razor thin margins and have not replaced hardware in years, there is a good chance your employees will have better systems at hand. This could help you reduce your overall tech costs.

The same goes for phones for your employees. Why not offer to pay for the plan and allow employees to use their own devices? Of course, you are going to want to implement security measures and usage rules, but if this is easily achieved then it may help reduce your overall operating costs. Before you do implement a system like this however, we strongly recommend you read the rest of this article and follow the steps below.

2. Set up separate networks for employee devices

Oftentimes, the main reason employees bring their devices to the office and use them for work purposes, especially when it comes to mobile phones, is because they can happily connect to Wi-Fi for free without using their data plans throughout the day.

Chances are high that because they use the work Wi-Fi on their device for non-work tasks, they simply keep using the device when they are doing work related activities. This could pose a security risk, especially if you run business-critical operations on the same network. You could nip this potential problem in the bud and simply install another Wi-Fi network for mobile devices and non-critical business processes.

It is usually quite affordable to simply purchase another line and the networking equipment to support this, not to mention the fact that it will keep business-critical processes secure from errant malware. As an added bonus, you will likely see increased productivity because the bandwidth demand will be limited, so important data will move quicker.

3. Educate your staff about security

In our experience, the vast majority of BYOD related security risks are exposed by mistake. An employee may have a virus on a personal phone and be unaware of it. When they connect to the network it can then be unintentionally spread to other computers resulting in a potentially massive security breach.

One of the simplest ways to prevent this is to educate your employees about proper mobile safety. This includes how to spot apps that could contain malware, sharing security threat updates, and teaching your employees how to secure their devices. You really need to stress just how important security is to them.

On top of this, contact an IT expert like us for a recommended anti-virus and spyware scanner for mobile devices that users can easily install. Encourage employees to not just install this but to keep it up to date too. Many of these mobile specific scanners are free and just as powerful as desktop versions.

4. Work with an IT partner to establish a solution that works for you

Beyond education and simple network establishment, it is a great idea to work with an IT partner like us. As experts, we keep tabs on the trends and solutions related to BYOD and will work with you to establish a program that works for your company.

It may be that you don’t actually need to integrate BYOD but to update hardware or software to newer versions instead. It could be that there is a simple solution to employees feeling frustrated with slow performance of existing systems at work.

If you do implement BYOD, we can help establish security measures and policies that will ensure your networks and employee devices are secure. The best advice we can give however, is to do this before you start allowing BYOD, as it can be far more challenging to implement and enforce changes when employees are already using their devices at work.

Looking to learn more? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 8th, 2014

Web_July07_CThe cloud, once an obscure concept, has become one of the most widely demanded and integrated tech solutions of the past half decade. It has become so important to computing that many business processes, like email, document creation, and even music services are all offered over the cloud. For some businesses however, there is an uncertainty as to what processes they should be moving to the cloud.

Here is an overview of some of the more popular cloud solutions small to medium businesses might want to implement:

Email

All businesses, regardless of their size, rely on email these days. In the past, many businesses wanting individualized email addresses needed to host the email client on their own servers. This demanded an IT staff and investment into an email specific server, which many simply couldn’t afford or manage themselves.

The cloud has changed all this for the better, by allowing you to move your email hosting to a cloud-based solution whereby you don’t have to manage or invest in the hardware needed to run your email as the host is usually responsible for that.

What many business users enjoy about cloud-based email is that it is usually more affordable than an on-premise solution, especially if that existing set-up is an aging one. Switching to email in the cloud will reduce costs. On top of this, because these services are usually managed by a skilled IT company, you can guarantee that they are not only up-to-date but also secure.

File storage

Mention the cloud and many people automatically think of cloud storage services. These are a dime a dozen and are often the most popular type of cloud solution employed in businesses.

There are many business oriented cloud storage services that offer ample storage as well as the security needed to ensure that critical data is secure both on the service and when it is in transit between your systems and the cloud.

Much like email, many of these services are managed by IT professionals who ensure the system is up-to-date and secure. Also, some offer a storage rate that is on a par with, or less expensive than, physical hard drives, which can help you save money in the long run.

Hosting servers

Some businesses require numerous servers in order to support operations. A problem with physical servers is that they require in-house IT staff in order to manage them. They also can be quite bulky and resource demanding, which can lead to high IT bills.

One option many small businesses are embracing is the cloud-based server. The idea is that the same capability is delivered over the Internet, without the need for a server to be located at your physical business. This frees up space, while allowing for easier management.

When many business owners do due diligence on different server solutions, they quickly find out that cloud-based servers are often more economical in the long run, especially if the business is running older hardware or operating on a lower budget.

Ecommerce

Ask any business owner who runs an ecommerce business how resource intensive it is, and they will be quick to tell you that managing an in-house solution is not only costly, but can be inefficient, especially when you try to scale your store.

Over the past few years, a number of powerful cloud-based ecommerce platforms have been introduced that not only allow you to easily manage an online store, but also scale without the costly hardware investment. Beyond this, because the servers that host the cloud solutions pool resources, you can be sure that your store will always be available online, even if you are experiencing heavy traffic. This could crash on-premise solutions found in many small businesses.

Like many of the other cloud solutions, ecommerce cloud solutions can be managed by an IT team, leaving you to focus on running your business.

Document creation and collaboration

A common trend in many businesses is the increasing reliance on remote workers. If your company employs remote workers there is a good chance that you have run into at least some productivity issues. If you are using a traditional document creation system, time will have been lost passing different versions of documents back and forth and ensuring everyone is using the same version.

There are a number of great cloud-based document creation services available to businesses. These services offer features that ensure that documents are always up-to-date on all systems, while promoting collaboration.

Because these services are accessed over the Web, you don’t need to purchase expensive licenses for each user, but pay a minimal monthly fee instead. In general, companies that have moved to a cloud-based document suite have seen a ROI in excess of 300% and an overall increase in productivity.

Backup and recovery

Believe it or not, your business is constantly facing disaster. Not every disaster will be enough to wipe your business out, but even a small one, like a hard drive crash, could be enough to put a damper on your overall business success and profits. It therefore pays to be prepared with a Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Plan in place.

One of the most essential elements of these plans is a backup of your data. Because cloud solutions are off-site, you can backup your data and systems so these backups are available, should disaster strike and you can’t access your data.

Many of these backup solutions can be automated to ensure systems are backed up regularly, and also offer speedy recovery time. Some businesses have seen their critical systems back online in as short as half an hour after re-establishing network connection.

If you are looking to move your business into the cloud, contact us today to learn more about our products and cloud services.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web
July 2nd, 2014

SocialMedia_June30_CLinkedIn, while lacking some of the clout of Facebook, is still one of the most powerful social networks for business owners and managers who want to connect with their peers. Like many other networks however, in order to be noticed you should not only simply have a profile, but create one that is strong. The question many ask is: How exactly do you go about achieving this?

In this article we will go over eight important steps you need to take in order to build the perfect LinkedIn profile. In fact, we came across a great infographic on Link Humans that could be a big help when following these steps. We strongly suggest you take a look at this when building your profile.

Step 1: Establish your profile

While you don’t have to join LinkedIn, it is a good idea if you are looking to connect with other business owners and colleagues through a more professional, business style networking oriented social network. If you do want to connect at this level, the absolute first thing you need to do is to create a profile. This can be done by:

  1. Going to LinkedIn’s website (linkedin.com).
  2. Clicking on Join Today.
  3. Entering the relevant information on the following page. We recommend using the name the majority of your customers and clients know you by and your work email address. Personal email addresses are fine if you don’t want to fully represent your company.
  4. Selecting Join LinkedIn.

If you use your Facebook account for business, you can also sign up using your Facebook account. Just follow steps 1. and 2. above and click Sign Up with Facebook. You will be asked to log into your account (if don’t already have Facebook open in another tab on your browser) then approve the account access rights. Once you’ve done this you should see your basic profile pop up.

Step 2: Select an appropriate picture

LinkedIn is a work-related network, and to that end you will need to present the right corporate image; this means uploading a professional profile photo. This image should clearly show your face and be cropped to show mainly your head and upper body. The background should be clear or unobtrusive, allowing you to be the main focus.

If you don’t have any professional head shots, it might be a good idea to get some taken. Most photographers can snap a few for you, and will be able to provide you with information about how to pose and dress for the shots.

You can add an image to your profile by:

  1. Logging into your profile.
  2. Hovering over Profile which is located in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  3. Clicking on Edit Profile followed by the camera icon at the top of your profile.
  4. Pressing Change photo and then selecting the image you would like to use as your profile picture from a file on your hard drive.
  5. Ticking Save to set your picture.

The reason a good picture is more important than on other networks is because it has been proven that profiles with professional looking pictures are easier to find and also enhance the potential that other members will want to connect or even recognize you.

Step 3: Fill in your basic information

Once you have a great picture set on your profile go back to the editing screen and add your basic information. This includes your name, role, location, and company. Also, click on the Edit Contact Info tab to the right-hand side of your basic information section. Add as much contact info as you feel comfortable with; we recommend your email address and company website at the very least.

Step 4: Determine who your main audience will be

Before you begin to fill in your profile, you should take time to determine what the purpose of this profile will be. Will it be used to find new colleagues? Or will it be used to connect and communicate with your colleagues? Or, will it used to find prospective clients? Each reason will determine what information you should include in your profile along with the relevant keywords.

For example, if you would like to find new employees you can tailor your profile to show what you do in your job and what makes it so great. You can then also come up with more relevant keywords to use in your content. For example, using the words ‘career’ and ‘job’ and including in your summary information about who you are looking for will definitely attract prospective hires. However, this profile likely won’t attract colleagues or clients.

Don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to one set function however. For example, there are many crossover terms that both clients and prospective employees will search for. So, if you want to use your LinkedIn profile for more than one reason, take some extra time and try to figure out which keywords and ideas you think will work well. The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can always edit everything at any time. So, if you want to switch your audience, you can easily do so by simply editing parts of your profile and changing keywords.

Step 5: Write a solid summary

The summary of your LinkedIn profile is a place where you highlight who you are. Take time to craft this so that you can showcase what you do and your main strengths. Be sure to use relevant industry and position specific keywords and terminology that you believe your audience will be searching for, as this language will make your profile easier to find in searches.

The key here is to write a summary that not only explains what you do and your experience, but showcases who you are. Use active language like ‘I’, ‘my’, and ‘me’, and be sure to include a way for people who don’t have a LinkedIn profile to contact you – usually an email, link to your website or a phone number.

Step 6: Add your past and present positions

Once your summary is finished, you should move onto your current and past positions. This section should reflect your resume and highlight the experience you are talking about in your summary. It would be helpful to try and work in some of the keywords you used in the summary or identified earlier in order to really make your experience really stand out.

Chances are you aren’t looking for work, so you can deviate a little from your resume here, and highlight what you do best, or how you can help your audience best. Feel free to leave out points that may not be 100% relevant or interesting e.g., how many people you manage, sales goals, etc.

Step 7: Start connecting

Once your profile is mostly complete with experience and a summary, you can start looking for people to connect with. Start by searching for people that you know or work with on a regular basis and inviting them to connect.

Next, join a few groups that are related to your position and industry. These can be found by hovering your mouse over Interests which is located in the menu bar near the top of the window. Select Groups from the menu that drops down and then select Find a group from the right-hand side of the page that opens. Some groups are private and will require you to ask to join them, but don’t be afraid of sending in your request.

Once you have joined some groups and started to make connections be sure to be active on the network. It will help to join in on conversations held in your groups and post content on a regular basis. And, if you meet new clients or people don’t be afraid of looking them up on LinkedIn and asking to connect with them!

Step 8: Work on your awards and recommendations

Finally, start recommending people that you know. You can do this by going to a colleague’s profile and scrolling down to their Skills and Endorsements section. Find skills that you know they possess and press the + Endorse button beside the skill. Most people will also do this for you as well.

If you have won awards in the past, be sure to include these as well, especially if they are relevant to your intended audience. Just be sure to pick the awards that really highlight your skills, as an Employee of the Month award may not be the most relevant.

From here it’s really just a matter of tinkering with your profile on a regular basis. Be sure to be active and ensure that your profile really reflects who you are. Doing this will create a stand-up profile you can be proud of.

Looking to learn more about LinkedIn and how to use it for your business? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
June 26th, 2014

VoIP_June23_CTechnological advancement has played a huge role in helping businesses increase productivity and save money. One such tool is Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), which moves phone communications to a network connection, allowing you to access communication services from anywhere. Though VoIP is quickly gaining popularity, many businesses are still on the sidelines, doubtful whether VoIP is right for them. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about VoIP to help decide if it’s the right system for your business.

Quality improvement

Since its inception, the quality of VoIP service has come a long way. Today’s VoIP services allow you to make and receive calls using standard phones. Sound quality has improved tremendously, to the point where many businesses have abandoned traditional phone systems in favor of VoIP.

Reduction of telecommunications costs

Operating costs for the majority of VoIP service providers are significantly lower than traditional phone companies. This allows VoIP providers to charge customers – you – much less than their competitors, both in calling rates and monthly fees. With VoIP, businesses no longer have to maintain separate networks for phones and data which also helps save money.

And while some businesses do pay their current phone company extra for features like call holding, call display, and call forwarding, most VoIP providers include these features in their product, meaning you don’t have to pay extra for the features you need.

Easy to set up

With most VoIP connections, there’s no need to install switching boards or phone connections. Some systems can be installed easily by downloading an app to your computer, while others might require that you install an adaptor that converts voice signals into digital signals using your existing phones. These adaptors are small and in most cases all you have to do is plug the phone’s cable in before plugging the adaptor into an Internet connection socket.

More than just voice calls

Many VoIP programs also allow for chat capabilities, video calls, video conferencing, and even screen sharing. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see if your employees are available through presence technology, as well as giving them more ways to stay connected.

Highly flexible phone systems

VoIP systems allow you to do far more than is possible with traditional phone technology. You can:

  • Take your phone system with you: As long as you have access to a broadband connection you can use your VoIP system anywhere.
  • Talk on your laptop: Many VoIP systems include telephone software that enables you to send and receive calls using a headphone unit connected to your computer. This helps eliminate the risk of you missing an urgent call when you’re on your laptop.
  • Receive voicemail and faxes via email: Many VoIP services allow you to have voicemail and faxes forwarded to your email inbox. You then receive all your messages in one place, and your voicemail and faxes can be easily archived or forwarded.
  • Have virtual phone numbers: Your phone number can have any available area code, meaning you can have a business based in one place but can have a phone number with a different area code; advantageous if your business has, or wants, customers in specific areas.
  • Increase productivity: Many VoIP phone numbers can be configured to simultaneously ring on multiple devices, such as your cell and landline phones. This eliminates time-consuming phone tag. According to a recent survey conducted by Sage Research, the increased productivity enabled by Internet telephony added up to 3.9 hours per week, per employee.

No matter what industry you operate in, VoIP is a surprisingly flexible, affordable, and continuously evolving technology. Interested in implementing a VoIP system into your company? Contact us today to see what we have to offer and how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
June 18th, 2014

virtualization_June17_CServer virtualization has been with Windows computing for over 10 years. During that time, many small businesses have embraced the technology to improve storage efficiency and get more bang for their server buck. Despite its growing popularity, many organizations are still doubtful about whether or not to virtualize their servers. With that in mind, it’s time you explore the option to see if server virtualization will help save money for your business.

10 ways to identify if server virtualization will save you money:

  1. Expert IT personnel: Some small businesses don’t have an IT person on the payroll, or if they do, that person deals with tasks such as security or desktop management which often means they are ill-equipped to deal with the technological sophistication that virtualization demands. If you don’t have an IT expert, virtualizing might not be right for you.
  2. Technology as core competence: If your company’s core competence is technology, or if you have lots of servers which require abundant storage and skilled IT veterans, server virtualization is sure to help save your company money. Not only will you improve on storage efficiency, but you won’t have a payroll replete with lots of IT personnels.
  3. Busy servers: If your servers are taking up floor, rack or shelf space, or if they are dedicated to particular applications; your business is likely to save money through server virtualization. Moreover, if your server equipment is aging, server virtualization might help with significant server consolidation, meaning fewer servers, lower power bills and more floor space, too.
  4. Sensitive applications: Note that not all applications do well in virtual environments. Some critical or sensitive applications require a lot of processor or memory resources and you don’t want them sharing those resources with other virtual servers. Find out about your applications performance needs, if they’re not sensitive they may be ripe for a virtual server.
  5. Shared storage: Some people will tell you that virtual servers must have a virtual storage, however those themes usually come from vendors whose livelihoods are tied to virtual storage. If your business focuses on having a centralized storage that is shared between users, virtualization can be very beneficial.
  6. Speed of deployment: Some businesses need to be able to provision servers rapidly since failure to do so is a distinct competitive disadvantage. If thats the case in your business, virtualization is a must. Ordering a physical server and deploying it can take days if not weeks; unlike a virtual framework which once in place deployment can be done in no time.
  7. Server virtualization test drive: Why not try virtualization on a small scale before deciding if you should go all virtual? You can buy inexpensive tool such as VMware Workstation which costs around USD$199 for your IT staff to try out and see the potential value of server virtualization.
  8. Do research: Even if you think you know all the basics about server virtualization, be safe than sorry by doing more research before implementing anything. A good place to start is Virtualization for Dummies. It provides a thorough basic understanding of the idea as well as what it can do for your business.
  9. Ignore server virtualization hype: With so much hype around virtualization these days it would be easy for some businesses to rush into. Don’t do that! Instead, do some research and analyze your business’ components and needs before deciding to go all virtual.
  10. Get help: Server virtualization can be quite complicated, the good news is that vendors are making it much easier to deploy. If you decide to virtualize your servers, getting help from a reputable vendor can pay off in the long run. Most vendors offer solution bundles which include servers and storage pre-installed virtual servers for turnkey operation.

While server virtualization proves to be an efficient and cost-effective solution for many businesses, the most important thing here is to not rush into a virtual server. Take a little time and go through a checklist to see if your business is right for the idea because if not, you’re likely to be losing both time and money. Looking to learn more about server virtualization? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 10th, 2014

VoIP_March31_AVoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, refers to the technology used in communicating calls and videos via an Internet connection. Since its introduction in the market, more and more companies have switched from using regular phone lines to this method of communication. There are several good reasons why many businesses choose to use VoIP, so if your company is still using older methods of communication you might want to learn about VoIP and decide if it’s time to make the switch.

More affordable communication costs

Using VoIP services like users communicate to other users either for free or at drastically lower call rates than regular providers, as long as they are connected to the Internet.

Other VoIP services let you use your existing phones that are connected to the Internet to enjoy unlimited calls for a lower price compared to the per minute charge of telephone companies. These service providers offer different packages to choose from, many of which might suit the size of your company, your business needs, and your budget.

More affordable hardware and software

If you are having second thoughts about using VoIP because you are concerned that the hardware and software used would cost you a fortune, fret not. The vast majority of VoIP systems require little to no installation and many can run using existing equipment.

When it comes to the hardware, companies that choose to use VoIP through a computer need a working sound card, which your computer probably already has, as well as a headset or microphone and speaker, whichever you prefer.

Other service providers may also require the use of VoIP phones. The price of these phones is also not that costly and in some cases these phones might be provided by the VoIP providers for a nominal monthly fee.

VoIP supports multiple calls at the same time

A regular phone line normally only lets you talk to one person at a time. VoIP allows multiple calls, including conference and group calls, which is an important advantage to many businesses. This makes it easier for employees, management, and business associates to collaborate with each other and to communicate with clients.

It’s also faster for clients to connect with customer support. As a result, their concerns can be handled and resolved faster, which in turn improves the customer experience and strengthens your business relationship with them.

VoIP offers more features that traditional systems

Aside from supporting multiple calls simultaneously, there are also several more features that you can enjoy from using VoIP. These features may vary from one particular service to another, but the most common features include:

  • Fax
  • Voicemail
  • Caller ID
  • Call waiting
  • Call forwarding
  • Call blocking
  • 411 directory
  • Last number redial

There are also advanced features that some service providers offer, including call transfer, return call, speed dialing, SMS, and area code selection. Many of these features come included in VoIP subscriptions, which help keep costs of add-ons low.

These are just some of the reasons why you might choose to switch to VoIP for your business communication. If you have further questions about VoIP, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our support team is always ready to help.

Topic VoIP