Blog

May 20th, 2016

2016May20_BusinessContinuity_BLike all things man-made and otherwise, business continuity plans are not perfect. They too have pitfalls that can result in your business's failure if not accounted for immediately. Don’t blame it all on the IT guy, as often times the way a system is designed can also have loopholes. Here are a few of the reasons why business continuity plans fail.

Over-optimistic testing

The initial testing attempt is usually the most important as it’s when IT service providers can pinpoint possible weak points in the recovery plan. However, what usually happens is a full transfer of system and accompanying operations to the backup site. This makes it difficult to look at specific points of backup with too many factors flowing in all at the same time.

Insufficient remote user licenses

A remote user license is given by service providers to businesses so that when a disaster strikes, employees can log in to a remote desktop software. However, the number of licenses a provider has may be limited. In some cases, more employees will need to have access to the remote desktop software than a provider’s license can allow.

Lost digital IDs

When a disaster strikes, employees will usually need their digital IDs so they can log in to the provider’s remote system while their own system at the office is being restored. However, digital IDs are tied to an employee’s desktop and when a desktop is being backed up, they are not automatically saved. So when an employee goes back to using their ‘ready and restored’ desktop, they are unable to access the system with their previous digital ID.

Absence of communications strategy

IT service providers will use email to notify and communicate with business owners and their employees when a disaster happens. However, this form of communication may not always be reliable in certain cases such as the Internet being cut off or with spam intrusions. There are third-party notification systems available, but they are quite expensive and some providers sell them as a pricey add-on service.

Backups that require labored validation

After a system has been restored, IT technicians and business owners need to check whether the restoration is thorough and complete. This validation becomes a waste of time and effort when the log reports come in a manner that is not easy to compare. This usually happens when IT service providers utilize backup applications that do not come with their own log modules, and have to be acquired separately.

These are just some of the many reasons why business continuity plans fail. It is important for business owners to be involved with any process that pertains to their IT infrastructure. Just because you believe something works doesn’t necessarily mean that it works correctly or effectively. If you have questions regarding your business continuity plan, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
May 18th, 2016

2016May18_HealthcareArticles_AA recent initiative to give healthcare patients access to the notes their doctor or clinician writes about their visit is continuing its meteoric rise across the country. OpenNotes began a few years ago by researching the benefits of allowing patients to have access to their doctor’s notes. Since that initial study, the number of healthcare providers who have agreed to sign on has steadily risen. What is this service and how does it work? Let’s find out.

What is OpenNotes?

OpenNotes allows patients to view their nurse’s and doctor’s notes via online portals that can be accessed from home computers, tablets, or smart phones. Patients receive notifications whenever their doctor adds or modifies a note, a prescription refill is needed, or a follow up appointment is requested. Under the initial study performed by OpenNotes, 99 percent of patients opted to continue using the service, and 100 percent of doctors agreed to continue providing their notes to the patients.

Advocates believe that increasing communication, in this case electronically, results in patients who are “active partners in their care”. Over the years, reaching outside of the doctor’s office and into a patient’s smartphone or computer has resulted in improved medication adherence and reduced the number of note errors. Currently the service claims 7 million patients are in their network.

Is it secure?

All of that sounds great, but how safe is the information that’s being sent back and forth? A recent study by Carestream about patient perceptions of online portals found that, of the respondents who reported an aversion to using the service, the biggest concern (by a very large margin) was security and privacy. The OpenNotes website and press releases try to assuage these concerns by pledging their support during onboarding, but unfortunately threats come in all shapes and sizes nowadays. Often software that requires a lot of security is only as good as the hardware and the protocols you assign to it, and those may be outside of the scope of OpenNotes support staff. Additionally, there is a push for multiple providers to share a single online portal so patients only need one login. With all of this in mind, and the recent string of ransomware attacks on healthcare data, the possibility of an attack is greater than ever before.

Should your practice adopt OpenNotes?

Currently, that decision still depends on the dynamics specific to your practice. However, with more and more providers signing on to OpenNotes, and the government inching toward mandating healthcare information sharing, your network needs to be ready for integration. The healthcare sector has been at the forefront of data collection, and implementing online patient portals of any kind, OpenNotes or otherwise, means a massive increase in online exposure.

OpenNotes has stated that their goal is for 50 million patients to be a part of their network within the next three years. Regardless of whether your practice decides to help them reach that goal, or not, protecting your data needs to be a top priority. For questions and concerns about data security and implementing online patient portals, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare
May 17th, 2016

2016May17_Security_BUnfortunately, we’re confronted with new web security threats every day, and today is no different. Experts have exposed a flaw in ImageMagick, one of the internet’s most commonly used image processors, that could put your site in harm’s way. By learning more about this vulnerability you’ll take the first step toward better protecting your content.

What is ImageMagick?

ImageMagick is a tool that allows sites to easily crop, resize, and store images uploaded by third parties. Vendors continue to improve user interfaces and experiences by consolidating functions into all-in-one packages, which means administrators are becoming increasingly unaware of what specific services they are actually utilizing. ImageMagick is deeply integrated into countless web services and many webmasters may not even be aware they are using this unsafe software.

How can an image make my site vulnerable?

Recently, it was discovered that images can be uploaded that force ImageMagick into executing commands and permitting attackers to remotely insert harmful code into vulnerable sites. Images are actually made up of complex code that is translated into photos, icons, etc. Different file extensions use what are called “Magic Numbers” to define their file types. Manipulating these numbers allows attackers to exploit a flaw in ImageMagick. The service scans the uploaded file, and attempts to decode the source information whenever it detects the file is not what it claims to be. Scanning that code and attempting to rectify the file misappropriation can then trigger whatever was hidden inside the image and result in remote command of your site.

How should I protect my site?

ImageMagick has admitted knowledge of the security flaw and promised to release a patch very soon. Until then, experts advise implementing multiple workarounds to keep your systems safe. However, if you're not well acquainted with your web server and its code, then it's wise to consult an expert instead of attempting these changes on your own.

For those who are familiar, follow these steps. The first is to temporarily incorporate lines of code that preemptively block attackers from exploiting these holes. Those lines of code, and where to insert them, can be found here.

The next step is double checking that any image files utilizing the ImageMagick service aren’t hiding any harmful information. This can be accomplished by opening an image file with a text editor, and checking for a specific set of letters and numbers at the beginning of the text that define what type it is. The list of these “Magic Numbers” can be found here, and will reveal if an image is hiding its true purpose.

Ideally, administrators will halt all image processing via ImageMagick until a patch is released from the developers.

Data security is one of the most crucial aspects of any SMB, however, keeping up with the constant flow of security exploits and patches can be overwhelming for administrators of any ability level. Why not contact us to learn more about keeping your network secure and protected from exploits like this one?

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
May 13th, 2016

2016May13_SocialMedia_BIt can be discouraging for any business to post a thoughtful tweet in the morning just to see that it barely has any retweets by the end of the day. Even after hours of compiling the best 140 characters your company can think of, are you still not getting any hits? There are many tricks to maximizing your tweet’s exposure and if your company’s Twitter account is hungry for retweets, consider using a few of these tactics to increase your chances.

Schedule your tweets

There is absolutely no point in tweeting out any content if your audience isn’t even awake for it. That’s why it’s important for you to tweet at the right time to get the most retweets. Usually people won’t be retweeting in the morning and are more likely to retweet around 2pm to 6pm EST. However, if your followers live in different time zones and countries, the time you should be tweeting may vary. Twitter tools like Tweriod track down the geographical distribution of your audience and pinpoints the optimal time you should be tweeting to get the most retweets.

Use links

The next time you tweet out something, try embedding a link in your post. Whether it’s news, sports or celebrity updates, people will put some effort in keeping up-to-date with their interests. Studies have also shown that links to instructional posts get the most amount of retweets as well. The problem is, 140 characters is not enough content for your followers. So by satisfying your audience’s curiosity, you motivate them to pay you back by sharing your tweet out to their friends.

Ask for retweets

This is perhaps the most obvious tactic to get some retweets. Using call to action phrases such as “please retweet” significantly increases your chances of a retweet. Of course, you probably aren’t the only one asking for retweets. Adding something to sweeten deal, like a prize for one lucky person who retweets you, gives people incentive to do so.

Use visuals

Intriguing images can inspire retweets. Images are a great way to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time, and social media users love that. Some have found that, using colorful images and infographics in their tweets significantly increased their engagement rates and found that more followers were retweeting their content. It’s probably because there’s just more content to engage with other than a witty 140 character thought.

Use retweetable words

Research has shown that some words are more retweetable than others. Words like you, twitter, please, retweet, post, blog, social, free, media, help are the top 10 most retweetable words. However common-use words in any conversation such as “lol, haha, work, sleep or watching” are less likely to get retweeted. Unless you’re someone incredibly famous, it’s best to avoid using conversation filler words and stick to the buzz words that encourage people to share your tweets out to everyone they know.

Use quotes

Quotes express a lot in one simple line, making it perfect for any Twitter posts. Depending on your audience, a thoughtful quote can really move their fingers to click that retweet button. The next time you’re running out of ideas for tweets, dig up some good quotes relevant to your topic to get those retweets going. However, don’t continuously plug in quotes into your tweets. The trick is to do it occasionally, so you don’t risk people tuning out of your tweets.

#Hashtag

You’ll notice that the more popular tweets tend to have at least one hashtag. Using hashtags on keywords helps categorize your tweets with similar ones, giving your posts a bit more reach and, hopefully, more retweets. Just make sure you don’t overdo it as #thiscanbequiteannoying.

We get that small business may find it tough getting their name discovered among so many social media accounts. But if you consider some or all of these Twitter tactics, you have a better chance of getting more eyes on your tweets. If you want to learn more about useful Twitter tactics to increase your exposure and engagement, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 11th, 2016

2016May11_Office_BMicrosoft Word has become synonymous with document creation in businesses, schools and pretty much anywhere that wants to create electronic text documents. Despite more than one billion users worldwide, several of its most useful productivity features are still unknown to the average consumer. Here are some ways to utilize functions like Find and Replace and Track Changes to expedite and simplify your writing tasks.

Writing outside the box

Not all of your documents are simple line-by-line writing, and even the ones that are might require a bit of unique formatting. We’ve all wrestled with textboxes, customized margins and indents, but did you know that you can write anywhere on a Word document simply by double clicking wherever you’d like to insert your text? No more counting how many times you pressed the spacebar, no more spending 10 minutes formatting your textbox, just double click and start typing.

Customize your AutoCorrect

No matter how often or how much we write every day, there are still words, phrases and special characters that we can’t seem to master. Increase your typing speed by personalizing AutoCorrect to fix your commonly misspelled words without prompting you. Most of these are preprogrammed into Word (pretty much any ‘i’ before ‘e’ mixup), but customizing your own settings can solve issues like accented letters that are missing from your keyboard, or replacing short abbreviations with verbose technical terms. Just go to the File menu, click on Options, select the Proofing tab and click on the AutoCorrect options to explore all of your options.

Apply document formatting to pasted text

No matter how original your content is, there will always be reasons to copy from an outside source and paste to your own. You may need a quote, a piece of data or just an outside voice to your writing. When using the copy and paste function, you may need to remove formatting carried over from the original source. Although the icons and interface of this feature have changed throughout different versions of Word, Microsoft has been careful to always leave it as an option for users. Simply adding the Windows key to your copy shortcut (Ctrl+Windows Key+V) will integrate the copied material into your content. Default paste options can be further customized in the Options menu.

Collaborate with Review tab features

After the content has been written, you may want to invite others to edit your document with Microsoft’s Track Changes function. Once selected, anything altered in the content will be timestamped, highlighted and underlined in a color that changes in accordance with each editor. This allows you to see the original text along with suggested edits from colleagues. If an edit seems too drastic or risky, users have the option to leave comments or suggestions attached to the document, like a virtual sticky note. After the collaborative process is over, changes can be accepted or rejected individually, or en masse. All of these features can be found under the Review tab along the top of the screen.

Find and Replace

Most users know about using the Ctrl+F shortcut to find text in their documents, but not as many are aware of the Replace function. There are several hypothetical situations when you may need to replace several uses of an incorrect word or phrase. In a technical document you may realize late in the writing phase that you’ve misused a term, or in a marketing piece you may decide to change the name of a product or service; regardless, there is a simple one-step solution. After opening the Find window, simply click on the Replace tab and type the original word or phrase into the top field and the corrected word or phrase into the bottom field. From there you can choose to automatically replace all instances, or review them one by one. In addition to using this trick to fix errors, you can also use it as a shortcut to typing difficult and complex phrases by initially writing a shortened version and replacing it with the full phrase after you’ve finished writing.

Undo and Redo

Almost everyone knows the shortcut for undoing nearly any action in Microsoft Office - Ctrl+Z. Far fewer people know, and actively employ, the redo shortcut. This is a quick solution for viewing and comparing different formatting and layout options, and with a tracking history of 100 actions you’re pretty safe from changing so much that you can’t return to where you started.

Microsoft Word is one of the most universal document editing programs in the world. Don’t let creative, design and formatting speed bumps slow the development of your content when there are existing solutions tucked just a few menus away. An up-to-date understanding of Word and its functions can drastically alleviate the headaches of editing and formatting your files. If you’d like to know more about Word and other Microsoft Office products, shoot us an email.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic office
May 6th, 2016

2016May6_Virtualization_BTo get ahead as a small business, it’s important for your company to stay on top of IT trends. The problem is, these trendy and new solutions are quite confusing to understand, especially for companies with limited IT experience. One of the more complicated IT trends would have to be app virtualization. To clear up the confusion, here is a quick overview of what app virtualization is all about.

Non-virtualized apps

To understand app virtualization, we need to know how desktop applications are traditionally installed first. When you install an application like Skype or Slack onto a computer, the installer program puts most of the files required for the app to run in the Program Files folder on your hard drive. This process is usually fine for personal use, but things can become problematic if you install similar apps on your device.

For instance, if two similar applications are installed on the same file destination, there is a chance that these programs might conflict with each other and inevitably crash. Similarly, if you choose to uninstall a program without knowing that it shares important files with another application, you run the risk of breaking the other application. Additionally, installing applications the traditional way means you’ll have to manually install the same programs for all your users. Not only is this expensive but installing new applications for every desktop in your company is going to take an absurdly long time.

App virtualization

The solution to this is app virtualization. This refers to the type of virtualization where you run a program on a thin client, which runs in an environment separate from the physical server allowing you to run programs that are normally not compatible with a certain operating system (OS). In other words, virtualized apps trick your computer into working as if the application is running on a local machine, but in fact you’re actually accessing the app from somewhere else. This is better than traditionally installed programs because virtual apps run and feel just like any regularly installed app would.

Advantages of app virtualization:

Apart from the basics however, app virtualization offers more advantages for small businesses including:
  • Quick installation times and less money spent on local installation for each user.
  • Allowing incompatible applications to run on any local machine. For instance, if your laptop is dated and can’t run the latest apps on its own, you can lighten the load on your CPU by accessing virtualized apps instead.
  • Mac users can simply run any Windows apps if your company’s local server runs Windows OS.
  • Applications will not conflict with each other on your computer, since virtual apps are installed in a different location.
  • Upgrading is easy since your IT department won’t have to upgrade applications in individual desktops, they just have to upgrade the virtual application within the company’s local server.
  • Applications can be accessed from any machine, allowing your employees to work from home or on the go if they choose to.

Things to consider:

Before you start deploying app virtualization solutions at the workplace, you need to have a stable network connection first so that you can smoothly stream apps to your users. This is definitely more important for graphic intensive applications. You should also note that some applications like antivirus programs are difficult to virtualize since they need to be closely integrated with your local OS.

App virtualization is popular for many SMBs and it definitely pays off to know why it’s good for your company before taking the plunge. Virtualizing a workplace is no easy task and that’s where we come in. So if you’re convinced that your company can benefit from app virtualization, get in touch with our IT experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 3rd, 2016

2016May3_BusinessIntelligence_BWhen it comes to marketing, it can be tough to determine the most effective strategies. There are so many different ways you can try to lure customers to your brand: a free ebook, email marketing and press releases are few strategies often used. But how do you know what’s most effective? It all comes down to looking at data to see what works best. We’ve done some legwork for you to show how this old school marketing tactic is still influencing customers as much today as it did decades ago.

What is one thing every consumer has in common? They all love to save money. This is why the marketing technique of offering coupons is still as effective today as it was decades ago. Shocked? Don’t believe this is true? Well, let’s explore some statistics.

A recent report by Valassis, a large marketing firm that serves clients across the globe, provided some enlightening information on the effectiveness of coupons. Here’s what they discovered in terms of how coupons influence consumers.

  • 82% of all consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally because of a coupon
  • 85% are influenced to try a new product because of a coupon
  • 84% are more likely to switch brands because of the weekly specials on offer
  • 24% choose to shop at another brand’s store over their preferred because of better advertised bargains
This same report also uncovers some interesting data about brand loyalists, revealing that 78% are more likely to buy from a brand they wouldn’t normally patronize, due to a coupon. While this number is surprising close to the amount of total consumers influenced by coupons (as mentioned in the first bullet point above) this next bit of data may come as more of a surprise: 43% of brand loyalists have a more positive view of a company that offers coupons over those who don’t.

While this recent report goes a long way to revealing the benefits of coupons, how do they compare to another common marketing offer used today: free information products?

The appeal of coupons over information products

According to one marketing firm based in Waterford, Connecticut, a coupon was chosen 9 out of 10 times over an ebook when offered simultaneously. This raises an interesting question: why would a coupon be more effective than a free ebook or other information product? Let’s look at some common psychology triggers at play here.

Broad appeal - simply put, coupons have mass appeal. While information products are likely to be seen as more valuable to those with a higher education, a coupon can appeal to all income brackets - from the very wealthy to the very poor.

Instant value - to gain results from an information product requires a time investment and action. For example, if a customer receives a free 30 page ebook that explains how to get the best discounts on electronic equipment, he or she needs to read the book and then take action (and possibly create a plan) to gain the rewards of that time investment. Many consumers would rather spend their time doing something else, but a coupon on the other hand offers immediate value. Simply hand it over to the service provider, and you save money instantly. What’s not to love about that?

Uniqueness - the online marketplace is flooded with free information products. While they’re still an effective tool to gain a prospect’s email address, far fewer businesses offer coupons on their website, especially in the small business sector. By offering a coupon, you provide a free offer that immediately separates you from the pack.

The point here is that just because a marketing tool is popular doesn't mean it’s the most effective. This is why we encourage you to review data and statistics before implementing any marketing technique in your business. It can save you a whole lot of time and also make your business stand out.

Want more valuable business information that can help you connect better with your customers? Curious to learn how IT can help collect data more easily? Call us today to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
April 28th, 2016

2016Apr28_Security_BHackers come in all shapes and sizes. From kids trying to gain notoriety on the Internet to political groups trying to send a message, the motives for a cyber attack vary widely. So how can you protect yourself? It all starts with getting to know your enemy a little better. Here’s a profile of four different types of hackers.

Script Kiddies

When it comes to skill level, Script Kiddies are at the bottom of the totem pole and often use scripts or other automated tools they did not write themselves - hence the name. With only an elementary level of technical knowhow, Script Kiddies usually don’t cause much damage...usually. The Script Kiddy virus known as the Love Bug which sent out an email with the subject-line “I LOVE YOU” fooled millions of people, including some in the Pentagon, in the early 2000’s. The virus reportedly caused around 10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.

So who is a Script Kiddie? Most of the time they’re simply bored youth looking for a thrill or notoriety. Many never evolve into a full-time hacker, and instead just use their skills as a hobby. Oddly enough, many Script Kiddies find a career later on working in the security industry.

Hacktivist

If you’ve heard of Anonymous, LulzSec or AntiSec, then you’re familiar with Hacktivists. These groups are made up of members of varying skill levels, all the way from Script Kiddies to some of the most talented hackers in the world. Their mission is largely politically motivated as they aim to embarrass their targets or disrupt their operations, whether that be a business or government body. Two of the most common ways they attack their target are by stealing sensitive information and exposing it or denial of service (DDoS) where a server is overloaded till it finally crashes.

As a small or medium-sized business owner you are not necessarily immune to Hacktivist disruption. If your business or a company you’re associated/partnered with participates or provides services that can be seen as unethical, such as Ashley Madison (who fell victim of a major Hacktivist attack last year), then you too may be targeted by Hacktivists.

Cyber Criminals

Often talked about in the media and well-known by most SMBs, cyber criminals are after one thing: money. Their targets run the gamut, including everyone from individuals to small businesses to large enterprises and banks. But what do these targets usually have in common? They either have a very valuable resource to steal or their security is easy to exploit...or a combination of both of these. Cyber criminals can attack in a number of ways including using social engineering to trick users into providing sensitive information, infecting an organization/individual with ransomware or another form or malware, or exploiting weaknesses in a network.

Insiders

Perhaps the scariest type of hackers are the ones that lurk within your own organization. Insiders are made up of disgruntled employees, whistleblowers or contractors. Oftentimes their mission is payback; they want to right a wrong they believe a company has perpetrated toward them, so they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization - the US government.

Now that you know what motivates your enemy, you’ll hopefully have a bit of an idea as to whether or not you’re a target. To learn more about how to secure your business from these types of hackers, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 27th, 2016

2016Apr27_Healthcare_ARansomware is becoming a growing problem for the healthcare industry. And with around a dozen attacks on hospitals being reported since the beginning of the year, you may be wondering just how severe the problem is. Should you be alarmed? How can you protect your practice? Here’s an inside look at how the ransomware epidemic is affecting the US and Canadian healthcare systems.

The ransomware strike on Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center on February, 5 was one of the first major attacks this year. The hospital lost control of its computer system to hackers and was forced to pay them $17,000 to regain control.

“The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this,” stated Allen Stefanek, president of the medical center.

Thankfully, access to Hollywood Presbyterian’s EMR system was restored on Monday February, 15, over a week after the initial attack. So what can be learned from this story? Well, it raises a very important question…

Should you pay a hacker who’s infected your system with ransomware?

It’s a vexing question, and unfortunately the consensus on the answer is split. The problem is that the ransomware is very intelligently designed. And while it may sound absurd to pay so much money to a hacker, especially when there’s no guarantee your systems will be restored, oftentimes there’s not much choice.

“The ransomware is that good. To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom.” said Joseph Bonavolonta, an Assistant Special Agent of the FBI’s CYBER and Counterintelligence Program.

While Bonavolonta and other law enforcement officials have advised to pay the ransom, the US government has oddly enough said the opposite. In a release made public late last month, they noted, “Individuals or organizations are discouraged from paying the ransom, as this does not guarantee files will be released. Report instances of fraud to the FBI at the Internet Crime Complaint Center.”

The reasoning behind this argument is that by paying the ransom, you’re encouraging hackers to attack more practices.

How deep does the ransomware epidemic go?

According to Symantec’s 2015 Internet Security Breach Report, the healthcare industry had the highest number of data breaches for four years in a row and suffers 37% of all breaches that occur. In fact, last year alone there were more than 250 separate incidents of data breaches in healthcare totaling over 112 million records. And the problem doesn’t look to be getting any better as many experts believe that attacks are likely to grow in number and scale.

Why healthcare?

Hackers know that most healthcare facilities haven’t installed proper security measures to protect themselves. Hospitals have tight budgets, often emphasize convenience over security and have multiple entry points into their system, all of which makes them easy prey for cyber criminals. Of course hackers don’t breach a system just because it’s easy. They do it because there is valuable information stored inside, and healthcare facilities are ripe with info that can fetch a high price on the black market and help criminals steal a patient’s identity. The fact that the system is easier to breach just makes healthcare facilities a more alluring target

What can you do?

It all starts with paying more attention to security in general. But some tips to help any practice secure their system should include staff training that allows employees to better identify phishing emails, restriction of access to sensitive information, encryption and two factor authentication. While these are a few basic tactics you can use to get started, consulting an IT provider that specializes in healthcare security can be a wise decision that provides peace of mind and safety for your valuable data. We are happy to help your practice gain the highest level of security possible. Give us a call today to learn more.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare
April 25th, 2016

2016Apr25_InternetSocialNetworkingAndReputationManagement_B500+ LinkedIn connections can seem like a lofty goal. You have a business to run, and probably don’t have much time to dedicate to the platform. However, carving out the time to grow your LinkedIn network can prove invaluable as it will provide social proof to yourself or organization and presents the opportunity to connect with new clients. So how can you get to 500+? Here are some ideas to get started.

Network every day

If you’re struggling to grow your LinkedIn network, you may not be spending enough time on the platform. If you want to become a power player, you need to use the social network often. So dedicate 15-30 minutes a day to network on LinkedIn, and make it a goal to reach 500+ connections.

Join and participate in groups

Utilizing LinkedIn groups presents an opportunity to meet other professionals (and eventually add them as connections) as well as learn and share valuable advice. The point is not to just join a group, but actively participate in them. This requires a degree of focus and smart selection.

How many groups should you join? Shoot for around ten. This will ensure you have time to participate in each group and connect with its members. As for the groups you join, you’ll obviously want to join those in your industry, but you should also diversify. So choose five within your industry and five that relate to your other interests or provide you an opportunity to learn from its group members. Some suggestions to consider are an alumni group for your university, groups that represent causes/charities you care about, and groups that relate to a new skill you’re hoping to learn. Obviously, all the groups you join need to be active. If members only post in a group once a week, this is a red flag to avoid joining.

Once you’ve joined, you should spend some time each day contributing in at least five of your ten groups. You can ask questions, provide advice, or share valuable articles or original content you’ve created. Once you’ve developed a rapport with group members, you’ll have an easy, non-awkward way to connect with them.

Personalize your “Connect” request

The less you know a person, the less likely they are to connect with you if you send a generic connection request. You know the one: “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Many people will simply ignore requests like this. This is why it’s important to include a quick note that either refreshes that person’s memory of you, mentions a common interest or connection you might share, or simply introduces yourself and your reason for connecting. The more personal your note the better.

Use keywords in your profile

Just like Google, Bing and the other search engines, keywords help you get found on LinkedIn. Plant these keywords in your professional headline, profile summary, and skill endorsement section. How do you know what keywords to use? Think about what you want yourself or your business to be endorsed for. What skills do you have to offer your clients? For example, if your business specializes in web solutions, some keywords you may think about using would include SEO or “web content”. As for your skills, be careful not to choose keywords that are too narrow. For example if your business is in the financial services and tax preparation industry, don’t use the names of niche tax solutions you specialize in like “estate taxes” or “small business taxes” as your endorsed skills. Instead, choose more general words like “tax preparation”. By doing this, your connections will be more likely to endorse you as it’s a broader category.

By following these tips and spending at least 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, you’re sure to see the number of connections you have grow. And the more connections you make, the less work you’ll have to do to grow your network as more and more people will send you connection requests instead. This will provide more business opportunities and chances for you to meet new clients. If you’d like more ideas how to improve your social media efforts, feel free to email or give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media