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March 23rd, 2012

March is almost over, many of the big companies and MNCs have released their bonus figures, tax season is in full swing, the economy is kind of rebounding and people are looking for work. Chances are, your company will be hiring a new staff member or two in the near future. One of the most popular ways is to conduct interviews via VoIP based programs such as Skype and Microsoft Lync. Do you conduct interviews using VoIP?

Let’s face it, there are very few people out there who love conducting interviews. The ones that do, are journalists, the rest of us see it as a means to the end. But that doesn’t mean that you should put interviews on the back burner. Remember, the purpose of the interview is to find an employee that meets your needs and is a good fit for your business. Many of us have watched or conducted interviews over VoIP, and have walked away unimpressed, or unsure of the results. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of VoIP while interviewing.

Remember the Rules Many of us have another identity or personality when we are online, it’s common to see people who are usually quiet and reserved in real life become very vocal when placed in front of a computer. This also happens when people conduct interviews online, another personality often comes out during the interview. Remember: even though you are conducting an interview over VoIP, it is still an interview, and as such, you need to follow the same rules and guidelines you would when conducting a face-to-face interview. One of the biggest things interviewers forget when they conduct interviews via VoIP is that you are a representative of your company and its brand, the interviewee will form their own opinion based on what you say and how you act. Adopt your face-to-face interview persona, not the online persona.

Lights, Camera, Office? When conducting the interview it is best to pick a well-lit spot, with minimal to no distractions. Your office may be the one with Nirvana posters on the wall - which is cool - but they’re probably not the best thing to have as your background during the interview. The best spot to conduct face-to-face interviews is in a conference room, so why not conduct the online interview there? If you don’t have a conference room, pick a quiet spot in the office. Wherever you settle, be sure you are comfortable there, as chances are you will be conducting more than one interview.

When you have found a good spot, be sure to turn off your cellphone, or at least put it on silent. Also be sure to turn the various sound alerts on your computer off. Nothing is more annoying to interviewees than being interrupted mid-sentence by a telephone call, or the ubiquitous IM alert.

Test the Tech Before you conduct the interview, ensure you are familiar with the program you are using. You don’t want to accidentally mute the interviewee, or even worse, hang up on them. It is a good idea to set up in the place you are going to be conducting the interview, and check that the internet connection is stable, or if you are using WiFi, that the signal is strong. Conduct a test call with a colleague or another person to ensure that your webcam is working correctly, and you can hear the other person. It is best to do this a few days in advance, so you can iron out any glitches or problems with lots of time to spare.

If a technological mishap occurs during the interview, or you lose your connection, don’t give up and walk away, simply call the interviewee back, apologize and carry on. Better still, establish at the outset that if there is a problem, you will definitely call back. This will ensure that the interviewee isn’t calling you when you are calling them.

The Interview Remember that you are using technology for the interview, and this technology has many useful features, the most pertinent being the ability to record. Being able to play the interview back later if you feel you have missed something, or want to know other employees’ opinions, is an excellent perk to using VoIP. Be sure to let the interviewee know that their interview will be recorded, as it could be illegal to record the person without their consent.

One common oversight by both the interviewer and interviewee is time. It may happen that you need to conduct an interview with someone in another timezone. It’s important to be aware of the time difference and ensure that both parties are on the same page. Also, if you’re in an area that has Daylight Savings Time, be aware that some places don’t observe it, and adjust accordingly. If you know the interviewee is in another timezone, clearly state when you are setting up the interview time, if you mean your time or the interviewee’s time.

Finally, when conducting the interview: be aware of where you are looking. Most programs will have the other person in a large image with you in a smaller image. Look at the image of the person when they are speaking, and at the camera when you are speaking. This is the best way to replicate eye-contact in a face-to-face interview.

When you remain professional and can execute a good interview using VoIP software, you can be sure that the interviewee will be impressed and will want to join your company. Good luck! If you would like to know more about using VoIP for interviews, or other business operations give us a call - we are more than happy to hear from you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
March 13th, 2012

Hey, it's nowhere near the gargantuan status of Facebook or Twitter, but lesser-known Pinterest has a following, and especially if your target market is females, it can be a very versatile and unique online marketing tool – that is, if you use it the right way.

What is Pinterest? In a nutshell, it's something like a social media scrapbook, album, and bulletin board combined. Each interest / theme has its own 'Pinboard' where you put photos, videos, or other media that interest you.

What makes Pinterest unique is its concept, which has been consistently growing in popularity, especially with female audiences. And while Facebook and Twitter are more open to overt advertising, Pinterest takes a more conservative stance. While advertising isn't exactly prohibited, the marketing should definitely be more subtle and more consistent with a personal Pinterest profile. Here are some basic tips that will help you utilize Pinterest to your advantage.

1. Understand your market. The first question you should ask yourself is if Pinterest is something worth your time investment. Since the majority of Pinterest users are female, ask yourself if your products and services appeal to them directly.

2. Invest time. As in many other social networking sites, you need to put a personal and human touch to your Pinterest profile and in the way you interact with your audience. Log in often, update regularly, and respond quickly to any kind of feedback. Let your audience know that you're there.

3. Use other social media to augment Pinterest. Since Pinterest is less known, use your other social media accounts to point people your way in Pinterest, such as Tweeting or updating your Facebook status with your most recent Pinterest profile update.

4. Talk about what you represent. As mentioned earlier, since Pinterest isn't big on overt advertising, you need to market yourself in a different way. Talk about what your brand is all about. What do you represent? What content can you provide that would inspire your audience to share on their own Pinboards? If you're a furniture company, for example, you can try giving some tips on basic interior design and picking the right furniture pieces for spaces, with pictures or videos. What's good about Pinterest is that it challenges you to be more creative, and thus, more appealing to potential clients.

If Pinterest interests you, give us a call so we can discuss how you can maximize this new social media platform for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
March 2nd, 2012

In late February 2012, Twitter hit 500 million users. This milestone has cemented Twitter as a major Social Media player. With this large user base, companies should be seriously considering integrating twitter with their marketing strategies. Benefits of integration include increased followers, brand awareness, and potentially a better bottom line. Here are some tips for increasing your followers.

Search for companies and people you know While it’s easy to use the search function in Twitter, it can be time consuming to search for people one by one. Instead:

  1. Log into your Twitter account
  2. Press the # Discover button at the top of the page
  3. Press Find Friends
  4. Log into the various accounts available
  5. Add people as followers
This is a great way to rapidly increase your followers, and reconnect with customers and contacts you may have lost contact with.

Combine your Twitter and Facebook feeds You can combine your Twitter and Facebook feeds easily:

  1. Log into your Twitter account
  2. Select Profile Settings
  3. Select Profile
  4. Select Post your tweets to Facebook
  5. Follow the instructions provided
Within minutes, your Tweets will show up in your Facebook status, enabling you to reach two platforms simultaneously. Be warned, this could spam your followers, causing them to stop following you - so it’s best to keep your Tweets or status updates to the most important information.

Join Twitter Ads for Small Business This recently announced service will be up and running soon, allowing small business owners to advertise on Twitter through Promoted Tweets. This service will be released in the near future, enabling businesses of all sizes to advertise.

If you are not on Twitter, would like to join, or know more please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 27th, 2012

On one hand, social media is simple enough that a child can use it – which nowadays, is happening literally. But when it comes to business and social media, it's a different ballgame entirely. Sadly, this concept is lost on many businesses, who unknowingly commit all sorts of mistakes that actually hinder growth, rather than help speed it up.

Social media is booming. Since its introduction a few years ago, social media platforms have not only changed the way people connect on the internet, it's also changed the way business is done. When applied correctly, it's a cost-effective tool that helps businesses connect with a much larger audience and client base, as well as potential clients. That is, however, IF it's used properly.

One common mistake businesses make is the failure to draw the line between personal and professional. While showing a human aspect of your business isn't bad at all, doing it too much makes you less consistent as a business entity and makes followers or audiences lose touch of what you're really about.

Another common error is the failure to handle bad feedback correctly. More often than not, one negative comment can balloon into a full blown argument that will only give people an even more negative impression about you and your business. While you should acknowledge even bad feedback, more detailed discussion should be done privately and only between the parties concerned.

Social media is not a "set it and forget it" kind of thing. You need to constantly update and monitor your social media platforms so they don't become stagnant. People will be more encouraged to follow you on Twitter or visit your Facebook page if they have something new to look forward to every once in a while. Make sure, though, that you don't post too frequently – or worse, fall into the trap of making it too promotionally-driven, which comes across as self-serving and impersonal.

If you're interested in knowing more and drawing up a comprehensive and effective social media plan for your business, please don't hesitate to contact us so we can discuss things and better respond to any issues or questions you might have.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 22nd, 2012

Have you heard of the term Unified Communications before? Curious as to what Unified Communications is all about? Read on to find out what it is and what it can do for your business.

Because of continued improvements in technology and changes in the way people work, we now have a multitude of options to communicate with one another. This can be both a boon and a curse, as not only do we have to learn and master a variety of devices from which to communicate—but also contend with an equal or higher number of forms with which to communicate. For example, not only do we make a phone call to talk nowadays, but we also chat, text, tweet, post, like, poke, huddle, share screens, do white board sessions, and more. We can do all of these whether on the desktop computer, laptop, netbook, tablet, desk phone, mobile phone, TV – and soon maybe even from the kitchen refrigerator! Not surprisingly, people have started looking for ways to tame and simplify all of this complexity—and thus was born the concept of "Unified Communications."

Unified Communications, simply stated, encompasses the organization of different communication tools and models so that it can be used and managed in an integrated way, with the goal of improving flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness. To illustrate the benefits of Unified Communications, here are some examples of how it can be used in several business scenarios:

  1. Have a "single number to call" or a simpler way of reaching people. Instead of remembering and sharing a phone number, IM handle, email address, twitter account, and more, you can have just one number or address by which people can reach you—and systems will bridge that with whatever device or application your Unified Communications happen to be on or you prefer. So you can easily have calls placed to your desk phone routed to your mobile phone when you are out, and have voice mail emailed to you as a recording in case you can't answer.
  2. Reaching people when you need them. If you are working remotely, or managing remote workers, Unified Communications systems can indicate your or your colleagues' location or "presence"—i.e., whether you or they are available at the normal location, working remotely, or out in the field.
  3. Synchronous or asynchronous way of working. If you work with people in different time zones you can opt to conference when your schedules overlap, or swap messages that can be answered at their convenience if they don't —and be able to track and tie all of these together.
  4. Richer collaboration. If you work on projects, Unified Communications can allow you or your team to get in touch and collaborate in a richer and more interactive way. While working on a project you can chat, switch to voice calls for better clarity, or conference via video to provide more context, as well as share screens for easier collaboration—all from a single screen or session.
  5. Application integration. Imagine if you had the ability to call people from your email application's address book, or initiate a web conference from your instant messaging tool. With Unified Communications that is all possible.
Unified Communications may sound expensive and complex, but in reality it can actually lessen costs and make things simpler for you and your business. Learn more about Unified Communications and what else it can do to improve your business by contacting us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 20th, 2012

Is your staff bringing their own devices and gadgets to the workplace? There are pros and cons that you need to know before you decide to adopt this practice for your business.

You may have noticed more and more of your employees or colleagues bringing their own computing devices to work—be it their mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. Or perhaps in your company or in other companies you may have seen, they have let people decide which device they prefer because they are used to it at home. You may not realize it, but this is all part of a large trend called the "consumerization" of IT, in which the influence of consumer technology is being increasingly felt in the workplace. With the wide availability of cheap but powerful mobile devices and online services, a growing number of people are being exposed to the latest technology at home first—adopting them at a rate faster than most businesses are able to manage. This flips on its head the old paradigm in which traditionally new technologies would be rolled out to businesses first, before they would find their way to consumers.

This trend, plus the increasing sophistication of young workers today and their frustration with the tools available to them at the office, is pushing some companies to adopt a "bring your own device" or BYOD policy at work. They are not alone. According to research by technology analyst group Gartner, end users, not the IT department, will soon be responsible for 50 percent of business IT procurement decisions—ultimately bringing and running their own systems on company networks. Meanwhile, according to management consultants Accenture, around one-third of today's younger generation of workers (a group called "millenials") not only wants to use the computer of their choice at work, but also wants control of the applications they use too.

The benefits companies cite to adopting a BYOD policy are many, among them:

  • Savings on capital expenses and training costs in using company equipment—compensating employees instead via other means such as flexible work hours, subsidized purchases, insurance, and other benefits.
  • Less management headache—effectively letting employees decide what to use releases the company from some overhead and management responsibilities.
  • Improved employee satisfaction—by giving employees the freedom to use devices and applications that they prefer.
However, before you consider letting employees bring their own personal technology to the work place, be aware that there are also disadvantages, and sometimes very real dangers in doing so. These include:
  • Non-standardization of hardware, operating systems, and applications. If your business operations require that some equipment is integrated with others, then BYOD can in the long run actually increase IT management costs and decrease efficiency.
  • Exposing your network to malware or security vulnerabilities and breaches. When your employees bring their own devices to work, you lose important control over their security. Consumer devices often don't employ comparable bullet-proof security technologies mandated by businesses.
  • Leakage of confidential or proprietary information. Employees will naturally do what they want with the data on their devices, even if it doesn't belong to them, or it's against company policies. Employees can also lose precious company data when they misplace or damage their personal devices.
  • Lower economies of scale in procurement. Essentially because everyone is buying devices on their own, you miss out on the chance to consolidate purchases and lower purchase costs for everybody.
Have you adopted a BYOD policy at work? Thinking about it? Worried about this trend? If you need to understand BYOD better so you can define a policy for your staff, contact us and see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 16th, 2012

VoIP is certainly a technology that has come of age. It's cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use. Any business, no matter the size, should be using VoIP to increase productivity, efficiency, and cost effectiveness.

If you are running a business, then there is no reason you shouldn't be using Voice-over-IP, or VoIP, to reduce telecommunications cost, streamline operations, and improve the flexibility for your organization today.

VoIP, simply put, allows telephone communications to run over your data network or the Internet. The benefits of this setup are many, and the following are just a few.

  1. VoIP allows companies to maximize investments already made in their network infrastructure. The same network which handles the flow of data such as web access and email can now accommodate voice as well—no need to add and maintain additional wires and devices.
  2. VoIP can allow you to dramatically reduce the cost of communications, especially for interstate or international communications—everything can go through the Internet instead of incurring expensive long distance toll charges.
  3. 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, using their laptop, mobile phone, tablet, or virtually any device connected to the Internet.
  4. VoIP increases the number of features you can use with your phone system. For example, 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. You can also set up sophisticated auto answering routines and call routing. You can marry voice messages with email and faxes all in one inbox.
  5. You can use VoIP as a tool for real-time collaboration—along with video conferencing and screen sharing. You can employ presence technologies that come standard with VoIP phones and VoIP communication systems. Communicate with colleagues about your presence or receive info on the status and whereabouts of your staff.
Previously, all these benefits were only available with a big price tag and a critical limitation—the unavailability or unreliability of the company's Internet connection—but not anymore. With the great strides made in technology and the wide availability and affordability of broadband connections over the last few years, VoIP is now readily within reach for many businesses—large or small.

VoIP is certainly a technology that has come of age. It's cheap, ubiquitous, and easy-to-use, and any business should have VoIP in their toolset. If you are interested in learning more about how VoIP can help your business, contact us today to find out more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
February 13th, 2012

Did you know that there are many free tools available on the web that can increase your productivity? Especially beneficial to small companies who can always use the savings, these free applications and software, if used correctly, can both increase productivity and help maximize the resources they have at hand.

It is a constant challenge for small businesses to meet ever-changing and ever-evolving IT requirements while balancing a budget and keeping costs reasonable. And with software applications being one of the major factors that contribute to IT maintenance costs, it is always welcome news to come across free tools that work well and efficiently despite the lack of a price tag.

ThinkFree Online Office One of these applications is ThinkFree Online Office, which is a cloud application that enables you to create and edit documents in common formats. It also comes with free 1GB of storage and allows you to work from anywhere, since the documents are stored online. And with its own app for Android users, ThinkFree is particularly advantageous to people who need to work on the go.

ReqMan Another free cloud-based application that can prove useful is ReqMan, an online project management tool. You can use this to manage and track your different projects using various templates the service provides. And since it's in the cloud, mobile personnel and staff who are given access to your ReqMan account can work even when they're out of the office.

Gliffy Gliffy is a free tool that you can use to create all sorts of technical illustrations – diagrams, floor plans, flowcharts, and more. The basic plan is free, but you also have the option to subscribe to their more fully featured plans for a minimal fee.

ScheduleOnce For managing schedules, calendars, and the like, ScheduleOnce allows you to keep better track of all your appointments, meetings, and deadlines through a single tool. It integrates with your calendar on Google, and then allows other people to see your open times when they can schedule a meeting with you. Think of it as a one-stop-shop for your scheduling needs.

If you want to know more about these tools and how you can best utilize them, please feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to guide you and help you make the most out of these types of applications to improve your efficiency and bottom line.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 30th, 2012

The big difference between Android and the iOS is the fact that, on an Android device, you can play Flash videos. There are times however when this seeming advantage can be a disadvantage as Flash (such as Flash ads) can slow down your browsing experience or even crash your browser. There is a solution.

You can turn off Flash if you choose to. Simply go to your Browser's Settings by pressing on the Menu/Options button, then go to Advanced and change 'Enable plug-ins' setting from "Always on" to "On demand." Flash applications will now appear as an arrow that you must touch to start.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Tech Tips
January 30th, 2012

There are times when you may want to capture what is currently being shown on your iPad's screen. That’s easy to do on an iPad.

Simply press the Home button and then the Sleep/Wake button simultaneously. When you hear a click, the screenshot has been taken. You can then go to the photos gallery to see all of your captured screenshots.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Tech Tips