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July 15th, 2013

SocialMedia_July2_BThere are numerous social media networks available for business owners and managers hoping to expand their business and connect with their customers. LinkedIn is the network for professionals wanting to connect with colleagues, but did you know that this network is also potentially useful for finding new customers?

Here are five tips on how you can better connect with your potential customers on LinkedIn. While many businesses have a profile, the personal profiles of business owners and managers can also say a lot about a company and either boost or weaken your corporate impression. Think of your LinkedIn profile as not only representing you, but also your business.

1. Be easy to find

The problem with many individual profiles is that the owners use keywords that they feel make them look better. For example, many small business owners will use the word ‘Owner’ in their profile. This is a good idea, but it’s likely not what your clients or potential customers are looking for. If your company specializes in say fixie bikes, you can bet that your clients aren’t looking for ‘fixie bike shop owners’, they are probably looking for, ‘fixie bike providers’.

When optimizing your profile, and trying to figure out which keywords are best to use, try thinking like your customer. What keywords would they will use to find you or your business. If your profile currently doesn’t show up near the top in search results for specific keywords, try using different ones that you think potential customers might use. This will make your profile slightly easier to find.

2. Provide a reason to connect

Did you know that you can put headlines in your profile? These appear below your name and are meant to provide a summary of what you do, and why people should connect with you. This is a great space where you can drive interest in you and your business, so create an attention grabbing headline.

The best headlines briefly explain what you do, and also include one or two keywords, along with the local area you work in. For example, if you are a small business consultant in Missoula, in Montana, a attention grabbing headline might reads something like: “I am a certified small business expert who helps businesses in Missoula grow, and achieve greater returns on investment.”

It is beneficial to have a profile picture that is professional too, after all, LinkedIn is all about business. If you have a fun, or goofy picture, you may be turning off prospective clients, so it’s a good idea to keep your image as professional as possible. That doesn’t mean that you can’t inject some individuality in your profile but just be careful not to include any potentially off-putting quirks.

3. Write a good summary

All LinkedIn profiles give you the option to write a summary about yourself. Many professionals use this space to talk about themselves and their achievements. This may seem like a good idea, but the whole point of social networking is to connect with other people, or help them. You should use the summary to explain what sets you apart from the competitors, and how you can help the reader with their needs.

You can still list some of your experience here, as long as it makes you stand out. For example, 15 years of experience in managing a department is nothing to sneeze at, and you can use this to your advantage by saying something like: “With over 15 years of experience in managing the finance department of a growing small business, I have worked with many clients to help them improve…”

At the end of your summary, include a call to action suggesting that those who are interested get in touch.

4. Network

LinkedIn is a social network, and many users seem to forget that. A large, and arguably important, part of the platform is networking. This is how you increase your connections, and it does require a fair amount of work and input.

LinkedIn offers a ton of great groups and channels, many of which will fit your experience and skills. Take the time to join them, and interact with the other members. If people have a question that you can answer, go ahead and do so, be sure to post your own ideas and content as well. Over time, you will come to be seen as reliable, and if you start connecting with members, you will find your network grows.

Another way to develop your network is to add clients who have contacted you, or who you already work with. These contacts can be a great way to spread your network, and if you approach them at the right time, may even provide valuable testimonials.

5. Follow up

As with anything in business, follow up is crucial. When you make a new connection, either on LinkedIn, or in real life, be sure to connect with them in a timely manner. Once you have connected, a follow up message sent within a couple of days might be worthwhile..

The key is to be consistent. If someone asks you a question, and you don’t reply, they will think less of you. Taking a quick minute to reply will go a long way in creating valuable connections.

If you have a LinkedIn profile and would like to learn more about how to leverage it, please contact us today to see how we can help.

Topic Article
February 20th, 2013

New List Honors Top Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in the USA

nullFebruary 20, 2013: ServiCorps has landed on Nine Lives Media’s MSPmentor 100 Small Business Edition, a new list that honors the world’s top managed service providers (MSPs).

The MSPmentor 100 Small Business Edition is part of the larger MSPmentor 501 research report. The comprehensive report covers:

  • New: MSPmentor 501 Global Edition
  • New: MSPmentor 100 Small Business Edition (top MSPs with 10 or fewer employees)
  • MSPmentor 200 North America Edition
  • MSPmentor 50 EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Edition
  • MSPmentor 25 AANZ (Asia, Australia, New Zealand) Edition
  • New: In-depth data tracking mobile device management (MDM), managed cloud services and other recurring revenue opportunities for MSPs.

“We are honored to receive this national award as one of the top Managed Service Providers in the country,” said Dan Gross, CTO, ServiCorps. “To be listed along with some of the great companies is a confirmation we are doing the right things for our customers. Our people are really the difference maker for us. We feel that we have some of the top technical talent in Southern California.”

The MSPmentor 100 Small Business Edition and 501 Global Edition are based on data from MSPmentor’s global online survey, conducted October-December 2012. Each lists recognizes top managed service providers based on a range of metrics, including annual managed services revenue growth, revenue per employee, managed services offered and customer devices managed.

“Congratulations to ServiCorps on this honor,” said Amy Katz, president of Nine Lives Media, a division of Penton Media. “The MSPmentor 100 Small Business Edition identifies a new generation of MSPs that keep small business IT systems and cloud services running worldwide.”

MSPs on this year’s global 501 list, including many small business MSPs, lifted their combined annual recurring revenues 24.5 percent to $2.54 billion. Together, those MSPs now manage more than 5.6 million PCs and servers, and nearly 400,000 smartphones and tablets, according to Joe Panettieri, editorial director, Nine Lives Media.

MSPmentor, produced by Nine Lives Media, is the ultimate guide to managed services. MSPmentor features the industry’s top-ranked blog, research, Channel Expert Hour Webcasts and FastChat videos. It is the number one online media destination for managed service providers in the world.

About ServiCorps:
ServiCorps is an award winning Technology Consulting firm and has been providing IT support to small businesses in the LA and Ventura County area for the past ten years. Founded and headquartered in Thousand Oaks, ServiCorps has earned a reputation as a financially stable, fast growing, well-established consulting firms with reliable IT solutions. It’s trained and certified team of IT professionals are dedicated to helping businesses prosper by offering the most cutting-edge technology solutions and expert advice at a competitive rate. Furthermore as part of the HALO-Network, the company has a national service network for its clients, with access to over 5000 technical resources in all 50 states. ServiCorps is one of only consulting firms in the area with all of the following partnerships and certifications: Microsoft Partner, VMware Partner, DELL Certified Partner, Sonicwall, Hewlett Packard, ASCII, CompTIA and Chairman Member of The Halo-Network. Visit www.servicorps.net for more info

About Nine Lives Media
Nine Lives Media, a division of Penton Media, defines emerging IT media markets and disrupts established IT media markets. The company’s IT channel-centric online communities include MSPmentor, The VAR Guy and Talkin’ Cloud.

Contact:
ServiCorps Marketing
Telephone: 800-608-4693
Web site address: www.servicorps.net

Topic Article
August 29th, 2011

Having the right kind of email system in place can do wonders for increasing productivity, especially for people on the go. It’s important to note the distinctions and feature differences of the email systems available to you, so you can be sure that what you’re using is the most efficient and cost-effective solution.

Whether you work from an office or are productive while on the go, email most likely plays a big factor in the way you go about your business. Unbeknownst to many, some types of email systems have certain limitations that by extension can also limit the level of productivity of your business, and especially for people in the organization who must also work while out in the field.

One major issue for many people is synchronicity. Many people need their emails to be accessible on their mobile phones, PDAs, or other mobile devices, and they need them to be properly synchronized with their desktop workstations. The need to constantly update conversations and email threads from mobile devices to desktops with certain types of email can prove to be tedious and unproductive– and some email system types don’t include this ability at all.

Depending on the way you use your email, especially when on the go, having full access and full control of your account can define how productive you and others in your organization can be. Besides providing a much better degree of synchronization and integration with mobile devices, certain types of email systems also have features for sharing and collaboration features that allow you to set schedules and share files from your mailbox, as well as central storage for emails that allows you to access your account seamlessly with any mobile device, regardless of where you are located.

Of course, having a full-featured email system might not be best for everyone. The key is to know whether adapting a more bare-bones system is cost-effective for your business (especially in the long run). Sometimes the top of the line may be needed, and sometimes all you need is a bit of tweaking on your less fully featured system. Not sure which is best? Call us and we’ll be glad to sit down with you and assess what kind of email system is best suited for you and your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Article
August 24th, 2011

The proliferation of websites and social media tools is making the job of monitoring what’s being said about you online increasingly difficult to do. But you need to somehow make sense of the sea of information available in these online tools, because depending on what’s being saidit can have either a helpful or a damaging effect on your reputation or your business. Here are some tools to help you.

Besides your own eyes and ears, there are plenty of toolsfor free or for a priceavailable to help you monitor your presence online. The simplest of these is your familiar search engines such as Google or Bing. By simply searching online, you can find where your name or your company’s name appears in various websites. With Google in particular, you can set up “alerts” which will email you when a specific word or term appears in their website index.

What words or terms should you use? Start with your name, or your company name, then try the name of your products and/or services, and maybe even the names of your employees, directors, and other stakeholders. It might also be helpful to search for the competition as well. As results come in you can refine your search by expanding or narrowing the scope of terms you would like to search or be alerted on. If you want to be able to search across all different search engines and not just one or two, you can use Monitor This.

Next you can use specialized website or social media monitoring tools to search only specific sites or services as opposed to the entire Internet. One example is Greplin, which allows you to search all of your accounts or accounts that you own. This is very helpful to be able to execute highly filtered searches on specific information in your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts, or your blog. Another option is Rollyo, which allows you to set up your own specialized search engines that cull content from public or open websites of your choosing.

Other more generalized tools include RSS feed readers—which allow you to consume news or information feeds from news sites or blogs. Examples include Newsgator.com, Bloglines.com, Google Reader or Pluck.com. Other generalized tools include those that monitor specific newsgroups or message boards like BoardReader.com, ForumFind.com, Big-Boards.com, BoardTracker.com, iVillage, Yahoo Message Boards, and MSN Money. Still others track changes to content of specific sites (Copernic Tracker, Website Watcher and WatchThatPage.com), as well as their domain information (DomainTools.com and BetterWhois.com).

The really interesting new services actually give you an explicit idea of the status of your reputationespecially if you are a relatively well known name or your business has an established brand. In this category are sites like Amplicate, which monitors general feelings or impressions about brands, businesses, or services; Klout, which tries to measure the influence of individuals based on their social interactions; and SendLove.to, which focuses on celebrities and media personalities.

There are literally dozens more tools you can use to monitor and manage your reputation online. To find out more, a great resource is here at the Duct Tape Marketing blog. If you have any additional suggestions, feel free to let us know!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Article
August 15th, 2011

It’s the dilemma of many smaller businesses lacking the budget for advertising that many of their bigger competitors have to be able to establish a better presence in a specific market. However, the rise of the use of social networks now allows these smaller firms to reach thousands to millions of people at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising and marketing.

One of the most difficult challenges smaller businesses face is having a bigger presence in the market. While many of these companies offer good, quality services at much more affordable rates, they are many times overshadowed by larger firms that have bigger budgets to spend on marketing, advertising, and the like.

Things have changed, though, with the advent of social networking. What was once a simple, social, get-to-know-each-other tool between people on the internet has now evolved into a tool that small businesses can take advantage of in order to get their voices heard.

The gist of social networking for business is the simple concept of reaching potentially millions of people at a mere fraction of what is normally spent on advertising and traditional marketing. The wide reach of social media allows businesses to find their voices and showcase what they can do. The playing field then moves from an unfair balance of advertising budgets to a battle of service quality and value for money, as it should be and many smaller firms can compete effectively in this arena.

There are many ways to tap into the social networking phenomenon to boost your online presence and aid in your marketing. If you are interested in knowing more about this, please contact us and we’ll be glad to assist you in developing strategies that fit your specific requirements and needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Article
August 11th, 2011

While it is the concern of every business to be as cost-effective as possible, it is not a good idea to skimp on your investment in a proper and solid security system for your business data and information. For instance, cost-cutting on your router/firewall might seem like a good idea at the start, but in the long term, it’s a risk you cannot afford to take.

In business, protecting important information and data is paramount. This is why it is recommended for any sort of business to invest in a security system that will prevent any cyber-attacks that might be launched against you.

Unfortunately, though, it’s lost on many that a security system is not just made up of one single thing software, better staff, better hardware, et cetera. A good and solid security system is composed of several factors working together to create a virtual chain that envelops your business and keeps it safe.

And one of the most underestimated links in this chain is the router/firewall. Many businesses are content using the most basic and cheapest option available on the market, without realizing that their security chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And if you make do with a cheap router/firewall, odds are you’ll get what you pay for not much.

While basic routers might work fine for homes or individual users, it is a much different scenario when it comes to business operations where basic just doesn’t cut it. Plus, there’s more at stake with business data, so why take the risk with cheap routers that lack the proper security features?

With viruses, malware, and the cyber thieves behind them continuing to grow and evolve, it is important that you understand what it takes to protect your system and your data – and invest in the best solution. Remember that it can take only one incident, one infiltration, to bring your whole business down.

We realize that every system is different and every business has its own specific needs, so if you want to know more about getting the right router/firewall for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Article
August 8th, 2011

For many people, smartphones have become essential tools in conducting not only personal communications, but also for business purposes as well. However, the rise in smartphone use has also increased the number of models released into the market, which can confuse would-be buyers. A few pointers are in order to help put things into perspective.

For many people these days, smartphones have become more of a necessity than a luxury. Being able to stay in touch through constant access to the internet and the thousands of mobile smartphone applications available has made smartphones an indispensable tool.

But with the boom in smartphone use, there also comes a conundrum for many: Which smartphone should I get? With so many choices out there, it’s becoming difficult and confusing to pick the right one. Here are a few quick and simple tips that you might find useful when canvassing the market:

1. Know what you want.
What do you need a smartphone for? Each handset has its own strengths and weaknesses. There are smartphones that integrate email and web browsing and put more focus on multimedia such as audio and video while there are other no-frills, no-nonsense models that trim features down to those that are the most basic and essential.

2. Consider your carrier.
Carriers are important because there are some smartphones that are only available with certain carriers, or carriers that limit certain features of a particular smartphone. You do have the option of getting an unlocked phone (meaning the device does not come with carrier requirements), but this has its own set of pros and cons that you have to weigh as well.

3. Get a feel for your choices.
Nothing beats actual experience, so visit local stores to get the physical feel of each phone. Is the keypad big (or small) enough for you? Is the device too thick or too thin? Do you like the user interface or is it too complicated for you? These are just some of the questions that you can answer once you get an idea of how it actually feels to use them yourself.

4. User feedback is important.
Talk not only to sales people but also to other people you know. Your friends and acquaintances have actual experience with various smartphones, so ask them what concerns and issues they have with their particular models.

If you have additional inquiries about how you can better use your smartphone for your business, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Article
August 1st, 2011

VoIP is now within easy reach for everyoneincluding small businesses. Here are the top ten reasons you should switch to using VoIP and VoIP phones for your business. Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) is basically technology that allows you to make and receive calls over data networks.

Instead of traditional phone services which channel analog signals such as the sound of your voice over copper wires, VoIP converts these sounds to digital form firstso that they can be sliced, diced, packaged, and routed over a digital network.

Because VoIP technology uses the same ideas behind data networking, and allows the use of the same networks used by computers, voice traffic can also be routed through the Internet as well. Suddenly you can now dramatically reduce the cost of voice communications, as well as achieve creative combinations of both services to create new applications for use.

With today’s advancements in technology, and the constant lowering of prices as technology achieves mass adoption, VoIP is now within easy reach for most businesseseven small ones. In fact, many have already made the switch to an all-VoIP infrastructure, using a combination of VoIP phones and VoIP communication systems.
Here are ten reasons why you may want to consider switching to VoIP for your phone and office communication systems:

  1. VoIP can allow you to dramatically reduce the cost of communications, especially for interstate or international communications, since everything can go through the Internet instead of having to go through expensive long distance toll charges.
  2. You can make and receive calls from multiple devicesfor instance, on a dedicated phone, your PC via a software-based phone, or even a mobile phone with VoIP capabilities.
  3. It’s easier to add extensions to your phone. You can provide a local number or extension for all your staff without additional costs or cabling.
  4. VoIP allows companies to maximize investments already made in their network infrastructure. The same network that handles the flow of data such web access and email can now accommodate voice as wellno need to add and maintain additional wires and devices.
  5. VoIP allows your employees to be more productive and efficient by giving them the ability to receive and make calls anywhere with a data connection.
  6. VoIP reduces the complexity associated with having to manage multiple networks and devices for communication. A company can potentially set up their office network so that each employee can use a single device such as a computer or a smart fixed or mobile phone to handle everything from email, chat, messages, faxes, and more.
  7. You can use VoIP as a tool for real-time collaboration along with video conferencing and screen sharing.
  8. You can potentially unify your communication channels, streamlining communications and information managementfor instance, marrying email with fax and voice in one inbox.
  9. You can employ presence technologies that come standard with VoIP phones and VoIP communication systems. This technology can tell colleagues about your presence or give you info on the status and whereabouts of your staff.
  10. You can employ intelligence into how your calls are handled, such as: providing automatic call routing based on the number, time of day, etc; providing an interactive voice response when a call comes in, such as voice prompts that guide callers; call reporting; and more.

VoIP is certainly a technology that has come of age. It’s cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use. Interested? Contact us and we can help you make the switch to VoIP for your business today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Article
July 29th, 2011

The iPad continues to impress analysts with its sales performance, with nearly 9.25 million of the devices sold last quarter alone, an upward trend from just 4 to 5 million in previous periods last year. It may be just a matter of time before iPads start becoming just another device, like the cellphone, that people routinely bring to work. Is there a place for the iPad in your business? Read on to find out how the iPad can be put to work in businesses like yours.

The iPad for many is a revolutionary device in that it brings the full power and experience of computing into a form that is easy to hold, easy to transport, and easy to use. Manufactured by Apple, the device uses the same operating system as its earlier iPod Touch and iPhone devices. And just like its smaller brethren it does away with conventional input devices like the mouse or keyboard, instead requiring just the user’s fingers to touch, navigate, and interact with the operating system and installed applications.

Key to the success of the device has been the availability of thousands of applications from third-party software vendors – in fact, nearly a hundred thousand of them. These applications range in categories from entertainment, media, education, and even productivity and business. Using these productivity and business applications for the iPad, you can effectively use these devices in the workplace. Here are some specific work scenarios in which you may want to consider the iPad in your business operations:

For presentations. Because of its portability, the iPad makes a great device for showing and sharing presentations. Applications like Apple’s Keynote allow you to import and edit PowerPoint presentations. Accessories allow you to connect the device to a monitor or projector. If you’re thinking of doing virtual presentations, there are iPad apps that allow you to do that as wellletting you stream your presentation via the Internet.

For Communication and Collaboration. The iPad has built-in applications for emailing, plus more can be added to support audio and even video conferencing. If you want to manage meetings, the iPad’s built-in calendar and address book apps make it a great replacement for a planner, while its larger screen makes it easier to read and manage than your cellphone or smartphone. It has built-in support for third-party mail and calendar applications like Microsoft Exchange, Google Mail, and Calendar. You can also download and use additional applications to help you manage your tasks, monitor projects, share files, post and read stuff in your social networks, and much more.

For field assignments. The iPad’s light weight and portability make it a great companion while out on the road. You can install and configure VPN clients to securely connect to your office network when in the field, or use any of the business applications you use in the officeespecially cloud-based ones. Again, using the built-in productivity tools you can use the iPad to manage your itinerary while on assignment.

For travel. As a travel companion the iPad is unmatched, with a wide breadth of apps for managing flight and hotel booking information, expenses, and more. Use the built-in tools to manage your travel itinerary, and use the communication and collaboration tools to check on progress at the office. During lulls, breaks, or after office hours, easily shift modes and use the iPad as a media viewer or news reader for information and entertainment.

Industry-specific apps. There are dozens more business cases in which the iPad can be put to work. For example, as a store or point-of-sale display, or even a point-of-sale device. Companies are using it to replace manuals, and schools are using it to replace stacks of books.

There are many more ways the iPad can be used for business. Are you considering using it for your business as well? Do you know of other uses? Let us know!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Article
July 11th, 2011

While Microsoft’s Internet Explorer enjoys a wide following including many businesses, the downside is that it becomes a prime target for hackers to exploit and abuse. One such instance is the recent discovery of a new flaw that allows hackers to “cookiejack” or hijack information from cookies from any website.

Despite a few flaws, Internet Explorer remains one of the most commonly used browsers in businesses today, making it a ripe target for hackers looking for security flaws to exploit.

One such flaw has been discovered recently by a security researcher in Italy. Dubbed “cookiejacking”, the flaw allows hackers to hijack a cookie of any website, thereby allowing them to gain access to passwords, credit card information, and various other data stored in the cookie. The flaw is found in any version of Internet Explorer in any version of Windows.

However, users must first drag and drop an item before the exploit can be activated. It might sound like a bit of a stretch, but hackers are known for their creativity, so expect that a seemingly appropriate situation will be presented in which you will find it perfectly normal to do a drag-and-drop action.

Microsoft responded to the threat by labeling it as “low risk”, citing the level of user interaction required for cookiejacking to occur. It did, however, encourage users to be more vigilant and alert, as well as to refrain from clicking suspicious links and visiting dubious websites.

Regardless of what platform or OS you use, there is always the constant threat from cyberattacks all it takes is one attack to break through and put important business data at risk. It is essential to always educate users on how to avoid being victimized by scams and hacks, and to have the right security software to ensure that your company’s information is safe and secure.

If you are interested in user training for security and / or better security protocols, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to draw up a custom security blueprint that’s tailor-made to meet your needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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