Success in business is all about having advantages. People invest in education so they can increase their value when they apply for a job. You could take up special certification courses to validate your qualifications. However, in a competitive industry, you need an asset that will optimize your skills, education, and experience. This asset is a strong network of leads and referrals.

Why You Should Network

We discussed the benefits of networking for your business in our article, “How Can Networking Help My Business Grow”.  While we will no longer touch on the topic, it is worthwhile to put into context why you should network.

In website design, we advocate optimizing content for our clients. Optimization is an effective process of making sure the client’s content is searchable on the Internet.

Every day billions of content is shared through social media, email, chat forums, and other sources of information. It doesn’t matter how great you wrote your blog or how well-researched it was. It will not be found unless it is optimized.

Networking is a way of optimizing your overall value proposition.

Networking creates channels for your skills, experience, and expertise to be found and appreciated by potential partners, clients, or associates.

It will not matter if you garnered academic accolades at a university. Your achievements and contributions to your company’s success will not reap career dividends if you cannot connect with key people in the industry.

A person with lesser qualifications but savvy networking skills will gain a decided advantage over you despite your glowing resume.

3 Basic Principles Of Networking

Entrepreneurs understand the value of networking to stay ahead in business. They know the importance of establishing connections with people who could support their enterprise or career choices. Many of them dedicate time to networking activities. However, some are able to reap the rewards of networking better than others.

Whether you are planning to start a business or explore a new career opportunity, networking will help you achieve your goals and objectives. The key is to do it right.

Here are 3 basic principles to keep in mind when networking.

1. The Earlier You Network The Better

The earlier you start, the sooner you can build your network of connections. In fact, for younger readers who are still in school, you should network right now.

Start by establishing key relationships in organizations in your campus and in others. Join associations that bring together like-minded people across different universities.

There is no better time to start networking than right now. Networking is also a learned skill. The more frequently you network, the better you will get at it.

2. Qualify Your Connections

Don’t network blindly. Connect with people whom you believe have the skills, knowledge, experience, and yes, network, to contribute to your career or enterprise.

Before networking, create a profile of the ideal contact. What are their specific skills or expertise? What are their company designations? Which industries do they belong to?

3. Focus On Building Relationships

Establishing a network is not a negotiation where one party seeks to have an advantage over another in the agreement. It must be mutually beneficial to both parties. The foundation of a network will depend on the strength of its relationships.

Take the time to get to know the other person better. Find out who he/she is; what makes him/her get out of bed every day. Uncover what their goals are. By discovering the person behind the contact, you will have a better understanding if he/she will be a right fit for your own goals and objectives.

10 Effective Ways To Build A Strong Network Of Leads And Referrals

Now that you know how to approach networking, it is time to get connected! Put your plan into motion and start circulating so you can build a strong network of leads and referrals.

Here are 10 ways that you can network effectively and establish a good list of dependable contacts:

1. Take the Time to Attend Networking Events

In order to build your contacts list, you have to network actively. Networking events are happening every day. You just have to know where to look and whom to ask. Here are some organizations that you may want to approach and find out if they have networking events coming up:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Industry Associations
  • Trade Groups and Organizations

You could also ask people from your existing contact list whom you know frequently attend networking events for their suggestions. They might extend an invitation for you to attend some of the events they go to.

2. Join Organizations In Your Industry

It is likewise a good idea to join organizations that are involved in your industry. You will have opportunities to meet key influencers, successful business leaders, and top executives.

In addition to including them in your network, you could learn from their experience. Many of these key influencers are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with new players and up and coming players in the industry.

learn more about website design with orange banner

3. Get Referral Recommendations From Your Own Network

Sometimes the best contacts reside closer to home. Before looking at outside sources, review your current network. Identify contacts who may be able to give you referrals or an endorsement to a key person in your industry.

A referral is a powerful tool. It is basically a seal-of-approval from someone whom the key person or contact trusts. Getting a referral or an endorsement will help you bypass any qualification process that a contact may have in place.

4. Connect With Your School Alumni

Here’s another reason why you should start networking while still in school. The relationships you build while in school are traditionally stronger and long-lasting.

Recess-time discussions and hanging out may have seemed trivial back then. However, it’s the shared experiences that foster strong relationships that stand the test of time.

Do your best to stay active with your school alumni. If there are high school or college reunions, make it a point to attend. If possible, ask to be involved in the planning process assuming your batch has been tasked to host the homecoming event.

Even if you were not classmates, school alumni are generally very loyal and supportive to one another. Once a referred contact finds out you shared the same school, it becomes easier to break the ice and start a good friendship.

5. Focus On Establishing Quality Contacts

In networking, you should only keep in mind one rule: “It’s not how many people you’ve met, it’s whom you’ve met that matters.” One of the biggest misconceptions about networking is that it’s a game of collecting calling cards.

The quantity of contacts you add is not as important as the quality of contacts you make.

Remember our second basic principle in networking: Qualify your connections.

Before setting out for the networking event, do some research. Find out the following information:

  • Who is attending?
  • What companies will be represented?
  • What is the purpose of the networking event?
  • What is the agenda of the networking event?

From there, look into the backgrounds of the attendees. Read as much as you can about their companies; accomplishments, contributions to the industry, key people in the organization, and socio-civic activities.

Make a list of the people that you want to connect with. Don’t make it very extensive. If the networking event is one hour long, allocate 10 to 15 minutes per contact. At the end of the evening, you may have added 5 to 6 quality contacts to your network.

6. Assume the Protagonist Mindset

Having a protagonist mindset means looking for win-win situations. Successful networking isn’t just about finding connections that benefit your interests. As we mentioned earlier, networking isn’t a negotiation process where one party benefits more than the other party. You cannot build a strong relationship that way.

A potential contact will have an idea if you are trying to gain an advantage from the way you are navigating the conversation. Focusing the discussion on yourself, showing disinterest while the other person is talking, and cutting in during the conversation are clear signals that you are only interested in personal gain.

7. Take a Proactive Approach

People who attend networking events expect others to ask their help. Why not take a proactive approach and offer your help to the other person before being asked?

If during your talk, you realize that the other person may have immediate need of your expertise, go ahead and provide the assistance. This is an opportunity for you to show what you can do.

At the same time, it will start the ball rolling. If the contact is valuable, he/she will be more than willing to reciprocate and return the favor.

8. Facilitate Connections

You don’t have to secure an immediate deal or arrangement as proof of effective networking. You can likewise be a facilitator and connect a person you just met with someone in your network who can provide the needed assistance.

This is another way of being proactive. It will show that you are a valuable connection. The person you just helped will keep that mind and will not hesitate to offer his/her assistance in the future.

Your contact in your current network will also appreciate the referral. He/she will keep you top of mind when someone needs your knowledge and experience.

9. Be Active On Social Media

Networking is a social event. Social media gives you opportunities to network from home or the office. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and especially LinkedIn are valuable sources of potential contacts that can provide you leads and referrals.

LinkedIn has features that allow you to actively participate in your community and showcase your expertise. Content that is shared on LinkedIn is primarily business-related. Actively engage in threads; join focus groups and participate in discussions.

LinkedIn also has a blogging feature. Take some time to create and publish engaging blogs. Frequent blogging will help enhance your reputation and encourage people to reach out and establish a connection with you.

10. Reconnect with Old Contacts

Connections aren’t a one-time deal. It does not end once you’ve gained favor. Again, networking is all about building relationships. If you want a network of strong leads and referrals, you have to work toward building strong relationships.

Maintain relationships by finding the time to reconnect with old contacts. Invite them out for coffee or a quick lunch. Perhaps a round of golf or a few sets of tennis over the weekend. In some cases, a simple phone call to say “Hi” will do.

Conclusion

Networking is one of the most overlooked, yet important components of building a business. It is an activity that should never end. You should keep networking to keep your business growing. Every time you network is an opportunity to find a contact who can help take your business to the next level.

A strong network is one that has contacts who can consistently provide you with leads and referrals. It becomes dynamic; a self-sustaining network that continually looks for opportunities for others to benefit as well.

Effective networking is all about relationship-building. A strong relationship goes two-ways; it’s not always receiving, sometimes you have to give first. You should also be patient. Trust is an important trait of a strong relationship and it takes time to build trust.

Do you have interesting networking tips that you would like to share? Kindly post them in the comments section below. They may encourage other readers to reach out to you and establish a connection!

If you want to know more about networking and how digital marketing can help you build a strong following, please do not hesitate to reach out and contact us via phone or email.

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer

Texting may be the most popular form of communication, but when it comes to business, email is king. It should be no surprise that there are more email accounts in the world than there are subscribers to Facebook and Twitter combined.

What makes email so popular? It is fast, easy, convenient, and delivers communication in real time. You can attach files such as scanned documents, images, and spreadsheets. Best of all, it is a free service!

However, there are rules that cover proper etiquette when crafting and sending email. These are not “hard rules” but guidelines to make sure your emails are effective and will get the job done.

1. Keep Your Email Short

People check their inbox multiple times per day. However, that does not mean they like checking their emails frequently. In business, time is a valuable commodity. Given the number of emails your recipient receives, he/she would prefer to filter through the inbox as fast as possible.

If your email is too long, chances are the recipient will only skim through it. He/she will not bother with the details and just look for its salient points to understand the context. Thus, it is better to keep your emails short and to the point.

Here are 4 great tips on how to compose a short but effective email:

  • Start out by writing as much as you can then edit down the content upon review.
  • Use bullet points to organize your content.
  • Avoid prolonged introductions; after your salutation, state your objective right away.
  • Focus only on one subject matter.

By staying concise, you highlight only the important details and reduce the risk of any misunderstanding with its recipient. Short emails are also a sign of courtesy. It shows you value the recipient’s time.

2. Review Before Clicking “Send”

While your email should be short, it does not mean it should be exempted from review. Before clicking “send”, take the time to review your email thoroughly. Doing so will prevent the following embarrassing situations:

  • Sending out to the wrong recipient.
  • Failure to include attachments after indicating in the email that files will be attached.
  • Failure to put a subject matter.
  • Failure to correct errors in spelling and grammar.

Have you ever written an email when you are in an emotional state? We sincerely hope you did not send it!

Composing an email when you are highly emotional can lead to sending regrettable content. Remember that once you click “send”, there is no getting it back.

Instead of sending the emotional email out, get a good night’s sleep. When you wake up, you will be well-rested and in a better state of mind. Once you review the email you composed the night before, you will be glad you did not send it.

3. “Reply All” Only When Needed

We often receive emails that include other addresses. Sometimes these addresses are indicated as “copy furnished”. Does that mean that your reply should include their addresses as well?

It is not necessary to send your reply to everyone included in the original email. The sender may have furnished a copy to the other addresses only as proof an email on the specific subject matter was sent to you. Those who were furnished a copy do not have to receive your reply.

For example, a landlord or property lessor may send an email to a tenant reminding him/her of unpaid accounts. The landlord may furnish a copy to the property owner, accounting, and credit and collection.

The tenant does not have to send his/her reply to everyone on the original email. He/she can just direct the reply to the landlord. This way, the tenant can add details that may only be pertinent to the duties and obligations of the landlord.

4. Use Good Email Subject Lines

The subject line is the first item the recipient will see. If you want your email to be opened you need to use a good subject line to compel the recipient to initiate action.

How do you write a good subject line? Follow our 3 helpful tips below:

  • Keep the subject line to just one issue.
  • Get to the point; what is your email about?
  • Include a Call- To- Action; for example – “Urgent: Contract Signing – Please Update Your Records”

Using good subject lines will also help the recipient prioritize emails that need to be addressed right away.

5. Acknowledge Emails

For sure you’ve experienced not having your emails acknowledged by the recipient. You don’t know if they’ve read it or at the very least, seen it in their inbox. It’s not a very good feeling. It makes you feel that your email is unimportant.

It is common courtesy to acknowledge the receipt of an email. Even if you cannot respond to it right away, the sender should at least receive advice that you have read it and will attend to it as soon as your schedule allows.

Here is an example of a proper acknowledgement email:

“Hi Greg,

Thank you for your email.

I was able to go through it but not in detail. To give your email due courtesy, kindly afford me some time to digest the content and compose the appropriate response.

If you have not heard from me in 24 hours, please feel free to send me a response.

Thank you,

Bob”

curious about the website services we offer, learn more

6. Respond Promptly To Emails

As a matter of courtesy, you should respond to emails within 24 hours. This is especially true for emails that are urgent. If the emails are not particularly important, a response should be delivered within 72 hours.

24 hours is the ideal time-frame. It should give you enough time to compose the proper response. In some cases, you may need to do some research or verify information that the sender has requested.

If you need more time to put-together all the information the sender is asking for, indicate this in your acknowledgement email.

It is always advisable to take your time in composing your response. Do not respond if you are not sure of the information you are providing to the sender.

Should you respond to unimportant emails such as those sent by marketers? The answer is “Yes”. Unless you have signed up for their newsletter whereby you can merely unsubscribe, for other marketing content, it would be a good idea to send a short response.

For example, you received an email from a supplier who is offering the latest dialer program for your contact center business. The contact may have gotten your email from a friend, associate, social media, or your website.

If you are not interested, you can send the following email:

“Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you for considering our company for your dialer program.

However, at this time, we have no need for your product. Rest assured that should our business require your services, we shall contact your office.

Best regards,

Dan Jones”

By responding to the sender, you are informing them that you no longer wish to receive communication from the company until further notice.

7. Inform Recipient Of Attachments

One of the key features of email is that you can include attachments. These could be documents or images that you urgently have to submit to the recipient. However, these files could be quite large. In some cases, you may have to send multiple files.

Before sending out an email with attachments, inform the recipient especially if these files can take up memory. The recipient may not have the storage capacity for it and prefer another way of receiving your files.

You could do one of the following options:

  • Compress the files.
  • Open a file in DropBox or another file-sharing platform and provide a link to the recipient.

Ask the recipient if he/she is fine by these options. It is possible that the recipient is not familiar with compressed files or DropBox and may prefer a simple attachment.

8. Check For Spelling And Grammatical Errors

We briefly touched on this in rule #2, “Review Before Clicking Send”. Errors in spelling and grammar in whatever form of content is inexcusable and unacceptable.

It will always leave a poor impression on the recipient. Emailed content may be short, concise, and sometimes, informal in structure but it still represents you and your business.

You can download a copy of Grammarly which can automatically check your content for errors in spelling, grammar, and quotation marks. It will also suggest alternative words to improve your content.

9. Use All Caps Judiciously

Whenever you see text presented in an “All Caps” format, don’t you feel like covering your ears? Using all caps for your email is tantamount to shouting at your recipient. It may not be taken lightly.

You can use all caps to emphasize a word or a phrase and to abbreviate names of companies, organizations, and people. There are other options to consider such as italics or by underlining the word or phrase. Using bold type font is also effective in emphasizing a word or a phrase.

10. Include Your Email Signature

Your email signature officially verifies the authenticity of the communication. Don’t assume it is enough that the email originated from your address. Email is just like regular mail only in electronic format. Would you end your letter without a signature?

Gmail has features that allow you to customize your email signature. It should include the following details:

  • Professional Name
  • Title or Designation
  • Company Name
  • Website URL

You can even use your official handwritten signature if your webmail provider supports a stylus pen.

The accepted location of your email location is at the left-hand side, right after your concluding text.

Conclusion

There are other rules that you should follow although these do not directly affect the recipient.

For example, always update your antivirus and anti-malware programs. Email is the preferred avenue of hackers to steal data or corrupt your system.

Look for security programs that can encrypt outgoing emails. SecureZIP for Windows, Virtru, and Vaporstream are among the most popular email encryption programs you can consider.

Businesses should have a domain email and avoid using generic webmail addresses such as “yahoo.com” or “gmail.com”. Having a domain email is more professional and shows you are truly invested in your business.

Come up with a professional email address. It does not have to be overly formal or complicated. For example, [email protected] is perfectly acceptable.

Lastly, it should go without saying, but some people tend to forward suspicious email like chain mail, unverified reports, and hoaxes. Spurious emails can be annoying to the recipient. It is a waste of inbox space, time, and could place the recipient at risk if it contains malware.

Do you have email etiquette tips that you want to share? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.

If you are also interested in starting an email marketing campaign, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email.

We will respond within 24 hours!

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, every day you put your best foot forward so you can come closer to realizing your career goals. You’ve identified the tasks you need to accomplish, scheduled meetings, and set time in the day to prepare all the needed reports. You may have forgotten an important item on the agenda.

Have you penciled in time for reading?

Decline In Reading Scores Traced To Less Time Spent On Reading

A study by the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) revealed that global literacy rates rose from 84% in 2014 to 86% in 2016.

However, a study conducted by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) showed that reading in America has been on a steady decline the past 40 years. In 1982, the NEA survey estimated that 56.9% of Americans read at least one work of literature within the year. Fast-forward to 2015, and the number has dropped to 43%.

The lack of literary appreciation may have significantly contributed to the decline in reading scores of Americans. A global test performed by the Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRL) in 2016 showed that the United States trailed countries such as Singapore, Russia, and Ireland in reading proficiency.

A big part of the reason why Americans are reading less is multimedia. People spend more time on the Internet than with a good book.

A report by Zenith Optimedia revealed that from 2010 to 2015, consumption of online content increased by 105% while printed publications like magazines and newspapers declined by -23% and -31% respectively.

Why Today’s Most Influential Leaders Take The Time To Read A Good Book

If consumption of online content increased by 105%, shouldn’t that translate to higher comprehension levels since it is still a form of reading?

The answer is “Yes”.

And “No”.

Yes, consuming online content improves our knowledge, stimulates cognition, and makes us more learned individuals. However, having information accessible with a tap of a key or a click of a mouse removes a number of powerful attributes that help develop strength of character:

Discipline. Dedication. Self-Motivation.

Reading printed content takes more effort. If the font style is too small, you do not have tools that can increase its size unless you have a magnifying glass. It takes you out of your comfort zone; the computer screen where you can read hands-free and control the viewing experience.

With a hardbound book, you need to hold it between your hands, physically turn the page, and understand its words, paragraphs, and overall content without the convenience of launching a search query.

It takes discipline to remove yourself from the ease and comfort of an online environment. You need to stay dedicated to a reading schedule. Finally, you should be self-motivated to learn and become a better, more knowledgeable person by maintaining a reading schedule.

This is why many of today’s most influential leaders take the time to read a good book.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates makes it a point to read at least 50 books every year. Gates proudly shares his story of bringing a “sack of 50 books” whenever he travels. He successfully got Facebook founder and fellow billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, to jump on the reading bandwagon. After a slow start, Zuckerberg has resolved to read a new book every two weeks which comes out to 23 to 25 per year.

Dallas Mavericks owner and investor Mark Cuban dedicates at least three hours every day to reading. Phil Knight, the owner of global superbrand Nike, claims to own a massive library whereby visitors are required to remove their shoes before they enter.

Billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett allocates 80% of his time reading paperbacks and other publications. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is a strong advocate of reading. She makes monthly recommendations of her favorite books at her popular “Book of the Month” club.

Former NBA coach Phil Jackson, who won multiple championships with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers, was an avid reader. Jackson noticed that players often lost motivation during the second half of the basketball season. He would handpick books and give them to players whom he felt would identify and find inspiration in its content.

Former United President Barack Obama was known as a voracious reader of books. Obama claimed that during his eight years at the White House, he always found time to read books. For Obama, books were a rich source of ideas and inspiration.

If today’s leaders in business and politics can find time in their busy schedules to read books, why shouldn’t you?

5 Benefits Of Reading

Digital technology has given us e-books that we can read from any mobile device. You can find just about any trade paperback in e-book format right now such as Kindle. Reading remains a pleasurable experience in any format. However, reading a regular book is a different experience altogether.

There are certain smells that trigger emotions and memories. The smell of a newly opened book; of a large bookstore upon entry and of freshly- brewed coffee permeating the air. Those who experienced a day at Barnes and Noble before it was rendered extinct by Amazon, know the feeling of offline reading.

It is this type of experience that drew industry leaders such as Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett into starting a reading habit.

There are also other benefits that you can gain from reading. Benefits that will help you find success in your career and as a leader in your industry:

click here to learn more about web design

1. Develops You Into A Better Thinker

A leader stays ahead of the pack. Therefore, you must always be updated with the latest information. Knowing trends and developments in your industry or area of interest will help you make educated decisions before anyone does.

Anne Cunningham who is an Associate Professor in Cognition and Development from the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study which showed readers were excellent in analyzing information. This allowed frequent book readers to become better decision-makers than non-book readers.

What separates leaders from followers is that they are able to see opportunity while others see only failure.

The fear of risk is comfortably managed because they are able to use their knowledge to weigh costs versus benefits. Before they initiate plans into action, risk management procedures would already be in place.

2. Builds Your People-Skills

Book readers are often unfairly labeled as anti-social or introverts. People think all they do is read books and nothing else. As most leaders will attest, book reading will improve your people or social skills.

A story is a text representation of a world from the eyes and mind of its author. When you read books, you live vicariously through the author’s filter. You see his/her perspective and compare them to yours. It helps you understand and appreciate the opinions of others.

Thus, when you are dealing with your people, you communicate with them with an open mind. Instead of criticizing, you develop empathy. You allow them the opportunity to contribute and generate feedback. Meetings become more productive instead of a venue for argumentation and debate.

3. Stimulates Creativity

Reading stimulates creativity because it encourages your imagination to keep flowing. Words are processed and depicted in imagery in our minds. In some cases, we become challenged by the opinions expressed by the author. How many times have we questioned and criticized the works of an author, yet recommended the book for others to read?

Creativity is an integral component of leadership because it allows you to “think outside the box”. Creativity starts off with a series of questions; of how we can make things better. Sometimes the best solutions are not found in black and white. You might find them in the grayest of areas. Only those with a creative mind can filter out the smoke and find what others cannot see.

4. Strengthens Analytical Skills

Haven’t you experienced reading a sentence or a paragraph, then find yourself going back to try and articulate what you just read. Reading is a constant process of analysis. You are trying to decipher and understand the information provided by the author.

Studies have shown that reading regularly not only makes you smarter but also improves your abstract reasoning skills. It is a cycle that involves receiving and assimilating information.

In business, you frequently encounter situations that require precise decision-making. If you can break down information and process potential scenarios from various courses of action, you will be able to come up with the decision with the most favorable outcome.

5. Reduces Stress Levels And Improves Mental Health

Running a business or putting in the hours at work can be very stressful. The decision-making process itself takes you through several stages of stress; from problem identification to proposing courses of action to risk assessment then finally implementation. Stress can break your mind and body down. It will hamper your ability to lead if both your physical and mental health are compromised.

Reading is an escape. It takes you away from the world you are in and into one that is created by the author. It is a great way to relax and de-stress. Enhance the experience by finding your favorite nook and consume your book with a nice, warm mug of brewed coffee.

Conclusion: How To Build A Reading Habit

Did our article get you interested in starting a book-reading habit? It is not hard to get going once you commit to the idea of reading as a form of self-improvement. Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Overcome Biases – Some people are hesitant to read because they believe it takes away productive time from work. As we have shown you, reading has many benefits. It can make you smarter, more knowledgeable, more creative, and a better analyst. Thus, wouldn’t that make reading a productive activity?
  2. Read A Variety Of Content – It is perfectly fine to start reading topics you are already familiar with. However, once in a while, pick out a topic that is completely new to you. This will make require greater focus and dedication. For Mark Zuckerberg, it was social studies. What topic would take you out of your comfort zone?  
  3. Read To Have Fun – Reading doesn’t have to be an intellectual exercise all the time. Read to relax and have fun. Pick up a book that makes you feel good.

What about you? How many books do you read per month and what are some of your favorite titles? Please feel free to share your reading experiences in the comments section below.

If you want to know how storytelling can be a powerful driver of your marketing content, give us a call or drop us an email. We would be happy to assist you in getting your content seen and read by a wider audience.

learn more about website design with orange banner

A popular saying in business is “It’s not what you know but who you know that matters.” The obvious connotation is that having connections will help your business go further and stay ahead of the competition. Assuming the playing field is equal in skill and technology, your ability to network and establish the right contacts in the industry could be the difference maker. Thus investing time in networking activities could help your business grow.

What Is Networking?

Networking is the process of interacting with people within an organization where there is a shared interest of establishing mutually beneficial relationships that could lead to business opportunities. Once you have acquired a sizeable network, your objective would be to leverage these connections to open up new streams of revenues for your business.

But many people get frustrated with networking. They view the activity as a waste of time because nothing was accomplished. The problem is they view networking as a social event not a business building opportunity.

So they take off from work and attend a networking function. They enter a room packed with industry movers and shakers. For the next 2 hours they shake hundreds of hands and collect a stack of calling cards. A few drinks and platefuls of hor d’oeuvres and they call it a night.

What has been accomplished? The success of a networking event cannot be measured in terms of calling cards collected. A calling card is nothing more than a piece of paper with a name, address and contact details printed on it. There is no relationship with a calling card. The question to be answered is, “How did your interactions create opportunities for business growth?”

As John Bennett, director of the Master of Science and executive coaching and assistant professor of behavioral science at the McColl School of Business at Queens University at Charlotte said:

“Between 60% to 80% of jobs are found through personal relationships.”

Keep in mind that not everyone who attends the function can contribute value that will move your business forward. That is why networking should be approached with strategy and purpose.

You should be mindful about your interactions; the people you meet, the relationships you establish and how you navigate these connections to achieve business growth. Everything that you plan to do at the networking event must be driven by your intent to expand your business.

Online Networking: Reach Out To More Qualified Connections

The Internet has made networking easier, convenient and more efficient through social media, email and professional networking sites. You can reach out to key people in your industry and connect with potential customers from the comforts of your own home.

In fact, with online networking, you don’t even have to actively seek out connections. If are consistently publishing and sharing content that are well-researched, keyword-rich, relevant and usable, people within your industry or community will be the ones to reach out to you.

And there are other advantages with online networking:

1. Qualify Your Connections –

Networking through online channels gives you the benefit of qualifying the people you want to connect with. For example, at LinkedIn, you can set the parameters of your contact search based on the following criteria:

  • Industry
  • Designation
  • Country of Origin

Once you type in the details, LinkedIn will curate a list of candidates that fit your desired profile. You can also join focus groups that are involved in your industry.

Active members of these focus groups will frequently start a discussion on a topic that could be trending in your industry. Share your expertise by regularly participating in the group discussions.

2. Network At Your Own Convenience –

You can set aside time in the day or night for your networking activities. If you plan to use social media as your main avenue for networking, studies have shown there are preferred times for engaging in each platform:

Social Network:Days of the Week:Times of Day:
FacebookSun, Thursday, Friday, Saturday9am, 1pm and 3pm
TwitterWednesday12pm, 3pm, 5pm, 6pm
LinkedInTuesday, Wednesday, Thursday7am, 12pm, 5pm
PinterestSunday, Saturday2pm, 9pm, 2am
InstagramMonday, Thursday2am, 8am, 5pm

Come up with a fixed schedule for networking. You can allocate one hour in the morning, afternoon and before bedtime. If you’re not posting or sharing content, try to connect with at least five people in the community every day.

Networking is a game of probabilities. If you send out 150 invitations to connect in LinkedIn every month and assuming a low success rate of 20%, you should have 30 new contacts.

3. Build Up Skill Levels –

Online networking is the ideal option for those who are not comfortable meeting people for the first time. Exchanges are done through the platform usually through engagement, personal messaging or InMail as with LinkedIn.

If you or your contact schedules an online call, you can prepare a set of questions, rehearse your approach and have notes about the contact and your business available nearby.

However, most if not all first time interactions online are done through video. While chat messaging is perfectly fine, face-to-face interactions come across as more sincere and authentic. Popular video conferencing sites include Skype, WebEx and GoToMeeting to name a few.

Networking online would be a great way to build up your interpersonal skill levels. Put it this way, you would probably attend two traditional networking events every month. But you could be having video conference calls on a daily or weekly basis.

5 Benefits Of Networking: How Networking Can Grow Your Business

Most people limit their networking activities at the startup stage. Once the business starts to gain traction they pull their foot off the pedal and shift their focus on running day-to-day operations.

Truth is you should never stop networking because there will always be opportunities available to grow your business. Networking helps you find these opportunities before your competition does. And it’s always just about finding new clients and customers.

Here are 6 benefits of networking that will help grow your business:

1. Generates Referrals

When people say they network to get connections, they mean it helps them generate referrals. To grow your business, you need to look at both sides of the profitability equation: cost and revenues.

Networking will introduce you to other businesses that can reduce your costs or add to your streams of revenue.

When you are frequently networking you are bound to run into someone who can refer you to an associate, a colleague or a supplier that can provide what you need at lower prices or prospects who may be interested in your kind of services.

The best part of networking is that the referrals have been pre-qualified. They can give you a personal introduction or endorsement to improve your chances of securing a meeting. There is no need to get past the gatekeepers who make it difficult to reach the main decision-makers.

2. Opens Opportunities

One of the best ways to network is to join organizations, associations or focus groups that are specific to your industry or have a common interest. These types of organizations are usually composed of highly motivated people who want to find new avenues to grow their business.

For example, you are thinking of crowdfunding an idea. A networking event is the appropriate venue to share your concept, vision and purpose for the product or service. You may meet people who would be interested to invest in your idea and bring it to fruition.

Another example would be if you are looking for strategic partners for your business.

Let’s say you want to streamline operating costs by outsourcing back-office work. By engaging regularly with an outsourcing focus group on LinkedIn, you may find a third party services provider that can effectively handle all of your Accounting, Human Resources and IT needs.

3. Helps You Gain Valuable Insights

Many networking events particularly those hosted by chambers of commerce invite key resource speakers. These are highly-successful business people who have made an impact in their respective industries.

Networking gives you the unique opportunity to meet up with these influencers up close and personal. You can learn their secrets to success particularly how they survived and thrived during the most difficult economic periods.

You can also connect with them on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Every few days you will receive useful advice from the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

But it’s not just from the tycoons that you can learn valuable lessons from. Within the community, there are people who have gone through adversity and difficult times while running their business. You can likewise gain valuable insights and share commonalities from their stories and experiences.

4. Enhances Your Visibility

As you attend more networking events or engage frequently with your social media community, you enhance your visibility. People will have a better understanding of who you are, what your business is all about and your capabilities in the industry.

You stay top-of-mind with many community members that if they hear or know of another business that needs your expertise, they can easily give you a referral. Regular networking can also lead to more website visits and additional likes for your social media pages. It might even give your website a boost in the search rankings.

5. Increases Confidence

Do you believe in the saying, “Personal growth precedes business growth?” What this means is that if you want to take your business to the next level, you have to first overcome your personal fears and self-limiting beliefs.

Networking can be a nerve-wracking experience for those who are not used to circulating within a community. But like every other skill, you must network constantly to become more proficient at it.

As you gain confidence, your networking approach becomes more natural. You will notice that people become more receptive to your ideas. The more you network, the more the process is hardwired into your system.

Conclusion

The key item to remember about networking is that you should focus on building relationships first. If you go into a networking event with your marketing machine firing on all cylinders promoting your business, chances are you will drive away opportunity before it knocks on your door.

A good way to view networking is to think of it like a dance. You have to lead your partner to where you want him/her to go.

Become a good listener, process the information, identify opportunities and once you find possible alignment, interject your value proposition.

You may end the evening or the online conference with nothing more than an assurance that they will keep your business in mind. Don’t feel dejected. It now becomes a matter of following up; nurturing the seeds that you planted so that your business will grow.

And it certainly is better than acquiring a stack of calling cards.

Do you have networking experiences or tips that you want to share? Please feel free to comment below.

If you want to know more about networking and how it can help your business grow, please don’t hesitate to contact us or send an email. We would love to hear from you!

Technology is a double-edged sword; it can be your friend or foe, depending on who wields it.

Exhibit A is mobile technology. It has made communication more convenient and gives you easy access to the Internet. However it has also made you more accessible to telemarketers.

Exhibit B is email. Compared to the days of regular mail and fax machines, email has significantly improved productivity. You can bridge contacts located thousands of miles away simply by clicking “Send”.

But it has also flooded your Inbox with junk mail from people who may be clicking “Send” from a computer located thousands of miles away.

While advances in digital technology have made life and work more efficient, it has also given us additional digitized nuisance to deal with. The good news is there are tools and processes you can use to manage the number of unwanted calls and junk mail you get.

How to Avoid Unwanted Calls

Telemarketers are just regular people. Like you and I, they have a job to do. Unfortunately, dealing with them can be like dealing with a bad stomach. They can strike anywhere.

You could be in the middle of an important meeting; about to deliver the deal making pitch, when your phone starts to ring or vibrate.

You could have just arrived home after navigating through heavy traffic for 2 hours. All you want to do is to pour a tall cool one, plop your feet up the ottoman and rest your weary head. Then the phone rings.

You could be at home on a Sunday. Everyone is gathered around the television for Sunday Night Football when your phone rings. You decide to answer it and the person on the other line says:

“Good morning sir! How are you doing today? I hope I did not catch you at a bad time. If you can give me just a few minutes, I would like to discuss with you a wonderful opportunity/ investment/ product that would make your life better. This conversation is being recorded to ensure accuracy of all information provided. Interested? Good! But first please take a few minutes to answer a few questions: What is your full name?”

If the spiel just raised your blood pressure a few digits, then you know exactly what we mean when we say telemarketing can be a digital nuisance.

Of course, you have the power to simply say “Sorry, I’m not interested”. But some can be very persistent:

“May I know why you are not interested?”

“You can try our services for free. You have absolutely nothing to lose. If you don’t like it, we’ll simply discontinue the service.”

“Can you refer me to friends or associates who may be interested? I can give you a referral bonus for every successful transaction.”

From that point, exchanges can become testy as the recipient’s stress levels start to approach the danger zone.

The rising volume of complaints from consumers on unsolicited calls from telemarketers led to the establishment of the national Do Not Call or DNC registry.

Everything You Need to Know About the National DNC Registry

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened the national DNC registry on 27 June 2003. The bill covering the registry was called the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003 and was signed into law by then President George W. Bush on 11 March 2003.

Although the registry was opened on June 27, enforcement of its rules only took place on October 1. Initially, numbers registered on the DNC registry had a validity period of 5 years. But an amendment to the original bill, the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2007 made registration permanent.

To be part of the DNC, all you need to do is to register your landline or mobile number.  

However, if you think registering your number will end all unsolicited calls, be advised that the DNC also has restrictions in place:

  1. The registry only applies to personal calls; not to business lines or business to business calls.
  2. You can still receive calls from political organizations.
  3. You can still receive calls from non-profit organizations.
  4. You can still receive calls from groups that are conducting surveys.
  5. You can still receive calls from a company up to a period of 31 days from the date you submitted an inquiry into that company unless it was specifically asked not to call.
  6. You can still receive calls from bill collectors.

You can file a complaint regarding telemarketing practices that are in violation of the DNC registry with the FCC. When filing a complaint, make sure the following details are included:

  • Date of call
  • Number called
  • Name of organization calling
  • Products and/ or services offered
  • If caller has exemption status

Did the national DNC registry have a significant impact on the volume of telemarketing calls made?

According to the 2009 Economic Report of the President, 77% of Americans who registered their numbers with the DNC reported a marked decline in the number of telemarketing calls received. One year after the implementation of the act, the number of calls consumers received per month dropped from 30 to 6.

How to Reduce the Number of Junk or Spam Email

If marketers and other soliciting parties cannot get to you via phone, they will try through e-mail.

E-mail remains the most popular form of communication even among text-savvy millennials. According to a study by The Radicati Group, more than 225 Billion emails are sent every day and this number is expected to hit 246.5 Billion by 2019.

In addition, people check their e-mails multiple times a day which makes it an ideal platform to send junk content. Landing on the Inbox is tantamount to having your foot inside the door. All the recipient has to do now is to click on it.

The popularity of e-mail has made it an attractive target for spamming activities. Spamming is defined as the practice of flooding the inbox with unsolicited emails in an attempt to force the message on someone who otherwise would choose not to receive it.

In the study by The Radicati Group, the number of spam e-mails received has been rising on a yearly basis. Of the 122 Billion e-mails received/ sent in 2015, 12 Billion or 9% were categorized as spam.

But in 2017, out of 126 Billion e-mails received/ sent, 16 Billion or 13% were identified as spam.

If checking e-mail is number one on your daily to-do list, spamming can seriously impact your productivity. Imagine filtering through multiple unopened e-mails per day and most of them feature spam content.

How do spammers get your e-mail address?

Spammers can create lists by searching online for e-mail addresses. Online directories are good sources. They could put up bogus websites for the purpose of luring visitors then securing their e-mail addresses with enticing calls-to-action. They could also buy the mailing list directly from online retailers.

Generally the more often you engage or participate in online activity, the greater the risk of your e-mail address getting acquired by unauthorized parties.

Here are our 3 tips on what to do when you receive e-mail that appears to be spam:

  1. Do not respond to the email because those in the thread will also receive your message and trigger another round of Inbox flooding.
  2. Do not follow stated instructions to “Unfollow me in your mailing list” because this may result in a bounced e-mail message to you and will make it seem your account is active.
  3. Open up your Junk E-mail Filtering feature or if you have a Virtual Assistant, ask him or her to regularly filter your e-mail for you.

Is it possible to totally stop spammers from infiltrating your e-mail? Unfortunately the answer is “no”. Anyone who has an e-mail is a target.

However you can drastically reduce the incidence of receiving spam by following our 6 simple guidelines:

1. Work with your filter 

Most e-mail clients have default filter programs that automatically transfer suspect communication from your Inbox to a “Spam” folder.

However it doesn’t always get it right. If you find a message that reads like spam to you but was not detected by the filter, report it to the client.

In the same manner if the filter transferred communication to the Spam folder that is not spam, notify the client by clicking the “Not Spam” button.

2. Do not click on it

As the kitchen saying goes, “When in doubt, throw it out.” The same policy should apply when dealing with spam e-mail.

Only the sender knows for sure the motive for transmitting it. If the suspicious e-mail uses the address of your contact, verify the transmission from him or her.

Spam emails can be used to deliver a virus or malicious software that could steal information or corrupt your system.

3. Be judicious with your e-mail

The less you expose your e-mail address the better. Unless it is absolutely essential to your business, do not include it in your social media profile. Or you could open another e-mail address specifically for that website.

4. Be selective when participating in online activities

There are sites that attempt to acquire your e-mail address through games and other online activities.

These games prey on the inner narcissist with titles like “Which Hollywood Hottie Do You Look Like?” or “Which Marvel Superhero Best Suits Your Personality?”

While it may seem fun to share with your friends that technology found compelling evidence that you look like Scarlett Johansson or Chris Hemsworth, stroking your ego could end up compromising your privacy.

5. Add another e-mail filter

There are third party service providers who have e-mail filtering software that can augment the capabilities of your client’s default program. One of the best is BoxBe which comes with a guest list feature.

If you receive e-mail from anyone who is not in the guest list, they will be asked to undergo a verification procedure. Those who pass will have their e-mail sent to your Inbox.

Those that did not pass the verification process will be stored in a folder marked “Waiting List” which are all subject to your approval.

6. Change your e-mail address

If all fails, bite the bullet and change your e-mail address. Once you do, adopt the rest of the measures we provided to make sure you don’t get flooded with as much spam messages as before.

Conclusion

The fight to keep telemarketers off your mobile phone and spammers from your e-mail should be thought of as winning the battle but never the war. Big data means big bucks for these unwelcomed guests. They will use technology in the same way you do: To increase productivity.

Your best approach would be to remain cautious on your online interactions and to maintain vigilance when it comes to protecting your privacy.

If you want to know how we can help you minimize intrusions from telemarketers and spammers, please give us a call or an e-mail.

And if you have other tips on data security that we did not cover in this article, kindly share them in the comments section below.

We would love to hear from you!

Technology works to make life easier and work more productive. But sometimes it feels that it has also created a life and work conundrum because technology makes it possible for you to do more things in the same amount of time.

There are days where we just find ourselves dragged down with so many things to do, it becomes difficult to know where work stops and life begins.

The best way to make technology work for you is to embrace all of its possibilities. Software companies understand this because their job is to develop programs that will contribute to greater productivity and better convenience.

According to a 2015 study made by Pocketgamer.biz, software developers create 1,000 new apps everyday. In 2008, the Apple App store had a total of 10,000 apps available for download. By the time of Pocketgamer’s study, the number of apps at the Apple App store had grown to 3.3 Million!

Google Play Store had a total of 3.3 Million apps by September 2017.

Apps have become indispensable because they make it possible for anyone to achieve life and work balance.

Need a ride to work but are worried taxis may not be available? Don’t worry, download Uber on your smartphone and the app will locate the Uber driver nearest your location and send him or her to your place in no time at all.

You can find an app for nearly anything you need to do at work or at home.

Here are eight of the best apps you should have on your mobile device to guarantee a stress- free life:

Top 8 Apps to Make Work More Efficient and Have a Happier Life

1. LastPass

In a technologically-driven world where everything you hold near and dear is stored in a digital platform, the first app you should have is one that protects all of your information.

We wrote about the importance of using a Password Manager in our article, “Why You Need a Password Manager Now”. LastPass is one of the best password management programs you will find in the market.

LastPass was introduced in 2008. It will store and automatically login your username and password credentials for social media, email and other websites that you frequently use.

What makes LastPass better than other password managers? When you are entrusting your information to one digital service provider, security and protection should always be your primary consideration.

LastPass stores your information in a format that makes it difficult even for the National Security Agency (NSA) and the company itself to read.

In 2015, there was a reported breach in security but LastPass’ Two-Factor Authentication (TFA) kicked in which prevented hackers from gaining access to the treasure trove of passwords.

As we discussed in our article , “How to Protect Your Website from Hackers and Spam Attacks”, hackers are relentless. They will stop at nothing to get your information to meet their selfish interests.

Having a password manager like LastPass is a step in the right direction to ensure the protection of your online data.

2. Hootlet

Social media is no longer just a tool for connecting with long lost loved ones, posting images of your vacation or a digital soapbox to share your latest politically- charged rant.

It has become a valuable tool for businesses to generate revenues by marketing and promoting products and services. Businesses also utilize social media to enhance their online presence by posting relevant content, sharing advocacies and engaging their followers regularly.

But it can be time consuming checking 3 to 5 social media platforms for the latest updates everyday. This is where Hootlet becomes an important app for you.

Hootlet is an app from HootSuite, one of the most respected and reputable social media management companies in the world. It was founded in 2008 by Ryan Holmes and is the preferred platform of choice by the Obama administration, Martha Stewart Media, Virgin Group and HBO, among others.

Here is a rundown of what Hootlet can do for you:

  • Share any webpage to all of your social networks with a single click;
  • Schedule the publication of all of your updates;
  • Google search all the relevant tweets;
  • Access Yelp to find the best restaurants in town;
  • Do a Tweet search in any area simply by putting the location on Google Maps.

With Hootlet, you don’t have to visit each and every social media network. Hootlet brings them to you!

3. Evernote

We wrote extensively about Evernote in our article, “How to Organize Life and Work with Evernote”. If you want a refresher course on Evernote, simply click on the article title.

But we can’t stop raving about this amazing app because it is a proven time saver and will greatly increase your level of productivity.

Evernote is generally an online note- taking application but is packed with so many features that you can use it for basically anything you need to do at work or in your daily life.

One of its most valuable features is the Evernote Web Clipper.

People use the Internet to search for information all the time. Sometimes you might stumble upon information that has relevant and usable content but don’t have enough time to properly digest it.

Enter Evernote Web Clipper; a browser extension that allow you to snip off information, have them catalogued neatly and accessible by any device. If there is a section in the article which you find particularly useful, you can highlight it or mark it with arrows and text.

Do you want to share this bit of information? Evernote has features that will let you share any article, text or image via email or social media.

4. MooVit

Public commuters have to go through the daily grind of getting to a transport station, lining up and while queuing hope that a seat will be available by the time he or she gets inside the bus.

But it can’t always be Christmas and you may find yourself standing up for the duration of the long ride to the office.

MooVit is an app that makes the commute a much easier experience. It will give you real time public transport information plus GPS navigation. This way you will know where the nearest bus stops are and more importantly, the least crowded routes!

How does Moovit do it? It coordinates and collaborates with transportation operators to get public transit data and also utilizes crowd sourced user data.

 5. Waze

Looking for your destination no longer has to seem like a challenge from “The Amazing Race”.

Waze claims to be the world’s largest community- based traffic and navigation app. Basically it crowdsources real- time information and road conditions to help you find the best routes to get to your destination faster.

A team of map editors are constantly working to update changes in Waze’s maps so you can have the most effective route available all the time. Those who have used Waze have raved on how much the app has helped them save time and gas money.

You can also use Waze to synch travel times if you and your friends are traveling to a specific destination.

6. Trip Advisor

Are you going on a business trip or on vacation? For sure you would always like to know the best places to stay, dine or be entertained.

TripAdvisor is an app that makes it easy to find what you are looking for and secure the best deals so you can stay on your budget.

Trip Advisor compiles reviews, opinions and photos from its community of over 500 million users. You will know which airlines have the lowest rates, the best hotels with vacancies and fun activities you and your family can do while in town.

You can also share your own reviews and upload photos of your trip to help other community members.

7. Life360

Life360 is a valuable app for those who seek to find a balance between family and work. It can be quite challenging especially for parents who both work, have a tight calendar and whose children follow different schedules.

With Life360 you can keep track of everyone in the family without having to send out the message “Where are you?” every few minutes. For busy parents, Life360 is an app that will give them peace of mind.

For children who are always on the go, sending Mom or Dad a quick “check in” and a note that they are “doing fine” is enough to allay the usual fears and concerns every parent goes through.

8. Udemy

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play the guitar but were discouraged by its 20 frets, cost and total time it may take to strum and pick like John Mayer?

Udemy makes it possible for you to learn guitar, computer programming, photography and other interesting courses at an affordable prices and at your own pace.

Udemy is all about learning. The company’s mission is to help anyone and everyone learn anything.

You don’t have to rack up college debt to be adept at your passion. Many of the courses offered do not cost more than $50. The company also offers some courses free of charge.

Conclusion

These are just eight of the best apps you can use to simplify life and make you more productive. For sure while you were reading this article, software developers are busy at work designing the next big app to hit the market. By tomorrow, another 1,000 apps will make their way to Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store.

It does not mean that you should download every app that makes it to market. Chances are some apps will not be used as often as the others. Having too many apps on your mobile device will slow down its performance and leave you open to being hacked.

In the same manner that apps are designed to simplify your life, simplify your choice of apps. Make an accounting of your daily activities and download the apps with features that meet your needs.

Another helpful tip is to avoid getting apps that have similar functions. For example, if you already have Evernote, you might no longer need to download GetPocket.com which has the similar functions as Evernote’s Web Clipper. However, that being said, we still highly recommend GetPocket.com! Our founder uses both of these daily.

1Password is another good password manager. We use this one as we like the functionality a bit better when we implemented the application. But if you already have LastPass, you should be fine. 

What about you? Which apps do you regularly use to simplify life and generate more productivity at work? Kindly share your experiences with our readers in the comments section below.

If you want to know more about the best apps in the market and which ones you should use to suit your own purpose, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email.

What is a typical day for you like?

Like most people, you probably spend eight hours working behind a computer. When you are on your break, chances are you are constantly checking your email or updates in social media via your smartphone.

Exercise is a great way to de-stress and what could be better than a run with your favorite tunes blaring in your ears? It was a good thing “Eye of the Tiger” was available for download at the iTunes Store.

It’s nighttime and you want to take your significant other out to dinner. Where to eat? No problem! All you need to do is access Yelp.

If you belong to the 33% of the population, you probably check your smartphone while tucked away in bed. A study by Deloitte showed that 1 in 3 check people their phones in the middle of the night.

You may not be aware of it but your online behavior is causing a build up of digital clutter; the habit of acquiring more and more information that will ultimately serve its purpose, becomes irrelevant and useless. If you don’t get rid of digital clutter, technology will become a hindrance, not an assistance, to life and work.

How Digital Clutter Impacts Productivity

Technology is a wonderful thing. It makes everything easier and more convenient to do. People who were born in the 1960’s still remember the days using the typewriter, calculator and the fax machine. Today you can do everything on a device that will fit the palm of your hand.

But digital clutter can make it seem like the 1960’s all over again. Your productivity can be weighed down by time wasters such as looking for files, clearing out irrelevant email and working with a slowed down computer.

And let’s not forget the distractions caused by social media. People who spend too much time on social media often feel like being in a digital prison: They just have to post.

Digital clutter can lead to a cluttered life. Instead of making everything easier, technology becomes the root cause of non-productivity and stress. The good news is digital clutter is a relatively simple matter to fix.

5 Ways to Simplify Digital Clutter

Take note that we used the word “relative” in our previous statement. If you want to get rid of digital clutter, you must want to make it happen. All you need is to take that all-important first step: Clear out all the clutter.

1. Clear Out Stuff You Don’t Need

If you’ve ever caught an episode of the riveting reality show “Hoarders”, the first step toward addressing hoarding behavior is for the patient to clear out stuff he or she no longer needs.

Are you a digital hoarder?

Your desktop, laptop or tablet could be packed with files, apps and programs that you no longer use. It will be harder to find the documents you need especially if you can’t remember the filename.

Digital clutter will also eat up precious memory and present a security risk. Unused or under-utilized apps especially those that have not been updated can leave your computer vulnerable to hacking.

Where should you start?

  • Email – According to Statista, 39% of Americans check their emails 1 to 3 times a day. This high engagement rate with email is one reason we are constantly bombarded with marketing content, junk correspondence, “phishing” expeditions and malware disguised as innocent communication. If you don’t clear out your inbox of useless email, it will use up your memory, complicate organization efforts and expose you to threats of hacking. Delete or file emails that you have already read, those from people you don’t know and suspicious messages in your Spam folder.
  • Music – The Internet has made it easy to put together an album of songs you grew up with and those that motivate you to work out. But while the classics will survive the test of time, your tastes probably won’t. “Eye of the Tiger” may have gotten you riled up for a 5k run but when was the last time you listened to it? The same goes for your compilation of “Hall and Oates” 1980’s hits. Clear out your hard drive with songs you hardly listen to so you can make space for new sources of inspiration.
  • Pictures and Videos – The saying goes that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. It’s great to share experiences with others and re-live the good times. But you should learn to let go of the past so you can move forward and create new experiences. And what about images that were poorly shot or out of focus? You will not be able to appreciate the images so there is no reason to feel attached to them. The same can be said about videos. Yes, “Ninja Cat” was funny and cute but the cat has grown up and so should your taste. After all with the Internet, it is easy to find old videos and images whenever you get that nostalgic feeling. Delete pictures and videos that no longer have value and store the rest in a file or a separate drive.
  • Apps and Programs – It’s easy to get caught up with the latest apps because we want to make life and work more convenient. If you believe the statistics, the Apple App Store grows by 1,000 new apps every day. This means your latest discovery today can be rendered obsolete by tomorrow. Apps need to be updated regularly and this will be hard to do if you have too many to keep track of. Remove apps that you no longer use to save memory and to protect your computer from hackers. Remember, hackers can use your stored apps as a conduit for their malicious attacks and target your mobile device or PC.
  • Social Media – When you are working, shut off all your social media accounts. The last thing you want while finalizing a report would be to receive notifications from Messenger. As a matter of fact, you don’t have to open an account in every social media platform. If you are using social media to market your business, choose only two networks that are relevant to your trade. It is easier to manage and you don’t have to deal with additional sources of distraction.

 2. Organize Your Files

Once you’ve cleared out the clutter, organize the rest of the files that you have decided to save. Organizing even on the digital level can be challenging especially if you haven’t done this before.

But with a few simple steps, any beginner should have an easy time arranging his or her files in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Here are 3 simple tips you can use to straighten out your PC or mobile device:

  • Create folders for your personal files and then break them down into sub-directories.

For example, you can create a file name “Family” and then have “Birthdays”, “Christmas”, “Vacation” and “Special Events” as sub-directories. You can further distinguish each sub-directory by another sub-directory such as by year. So for “Family” it could be Vacation/2015/Puerto Rico.

  • You can store your files in your hard drive or “C” drive but if for some reason you computer gets infected, everything could be damaged beyond recovery.

Consider storing your files in a removable drive or on a Cloud-Based platform such as DropBox which has high levels of encryption for data security.

  • If you decide on storing your files in your PC desktop, arrange the folders from left to right because this is the normal orientation for reading. Start out with the most important or frequently viewed folders or documents.

It is a good idea to scan and save important files and documents onto these cloud based platforms. Your business registration papers, marriage and birth certificates should be at the top of your list.

3. Use Online Tools

The Internet is ripe with tools you can use to minimize digital clutter and improve productivity. We already presented DropBox as one of these online tools that can be effective for organizing your files and keeping them safe. Here are a few others you can consider:

  • Evernote – This is primarily a note- taking application. But it is packed with features that will make organization a breeze. If you want to learn more about Evernote, you can click to our article “How to Organize Life and Work with Evernote”.
  • Password Manager Programs – If you are like most people who have so many online accounts to manage, you might occasionally encounter some difficulty remembering the username and password to access websites you hardly use. Enter the password manager program which will keep track of all the passwords and usernames you use. You can learn more about password manager programs in our article “Why You Need a Password Manager Now”.
  • Google Drive – This is an effective way of organizing the work you do for different clients. Simply create a folder per client and store all the work you’ve done for each. Then send individual links to each client.
  • Asana – Asana is one of the best project management tools you can use. It is a great way to keep track of current projects and to ensure everybody on your team is on the same page. Other good project management tools you can consider are SalesForce and WebEx.
  • Skype, Slack or Viber –  Communication is an important component of every business. In order to reduce the risk of mistakes or misunderstandings, it is a good idea to frequently stay in touch with your people.

But using traditional phone services will be expensive. It would be more cost effective to use one an online communication tool that has chat and calling features. Skype, Slack and Viber are very popular, easy to install and best of all, free!

4. Patronize Online Services

Today you can transact with almost any service provider online. You can do online banking, pay your utility bills or update public records. As much as possible, use these online services so you can reduce your usage of paper.

Phone companies send your monthly statement online via email. You can pay your bill through their website or PayPal. It is simpler, easier and without the inconvenience of having to drive to the bank.

There is no need to keep paper records. In case you have to, you can simply print out the scanned copy that is usually attached on the email or request for one from the service provider.

5. Clean Your Web Browser

Since you are migrating most of your work or activity online, you will be using your web browser extensively. Bookmarking is an efficient way of accessing websites that you frequently visit.

Make it a point to clean your web browser of links that are no longer relevant. It will be easier to find the websites that you need to use when there is less to scroll through.

Conclusion

As the world becomes increasingly dependent on mobile technology, more people are spending more time online than ever before. We are searching, processing and consuming information at a rate that will only rise exponentially over the next five years.

Collecting data becomes second nature. We don’t give much thought on creating systems that will organize files, documents and apps because as far as we know, “it’s just there somewhere.”

Yup, just like the other argyle sock you found under the pile of unused workout wear. The argyle sock you were looking for a week ago.

If unmitigated, our practice of constantly acquiring data will lead to digital clutter which could be just as bad; or maybe worse, than physical clutter.

We hope we gave you valuable insights on managing digital clutter in your life. Do you have other tips you want to share to our readers? Please feel free to post your comments in the section below.

If you want to learn how to use technology to organize everything you need to do at home and at the office, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email.

 

Security exists to make sure everything that we hold valuable in life is safe, secure and protected from those with malicious intent. Life has become a long list of passwords and combinations. From locker combinations to PIN codes for ATM, cellphone access to passwords for websites, social media accounts and email. It pays to err on the side of caution but having too many passwords eventually ends up compromising convenience for security.

The solution? Use a Password Manager program.

The Realities of Living in a Password-Heavy World

Here are a few interesting statistics from the June 2015 TeleSign Consumer Account Security Report on digital security concerns and practices which surveyed more than 2,000 people from the United States and the United Kingdom:

  • 75% of respondents use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • 40% of those surveyed reported that they had been hacked or notified their personal information had been compromised.
  • 21% have not changed their password for the past 10 years.
  • 47% use passwords that are at least 5 years old.

Of those who participated in the TeleSign study, 80% shared their concern about being hacked. Yet many of them still continue with their irresponsible practices regarding online security.

Like most consumers, we don’t believe we are vulnerable to crime until we finally become victims. By then, it could be too late. We end up losing more than we gained by following lackadaisical practices.

This kind of disengaged mentality is the reason why the 5 most popular passwords in 2014 were:

  1. 123456
  2. Password
  3. 12345
  4. 12345678
  5. Qwerty

You could be shaking or scratching your head; or maybe even both, but the truth is people did not take password security seriously. When making a choice between security and convenience, they chose the latter.

The fact that 40% claimed they were hacked was proof they should have taken the effort to come up with more challenging and complex passwords.

Imagine the consequences if your email password was stolen. The cyber criminal could easily reset several of your online accounts including PayPal.

But coming up with strong passwords for different purposes is easier said than done. Every program has its own parameters for strength. Some require a minimum of 10 characters. Others demand that the password contain a number, a capitalized letter and a sign.

Gone are the days when post-its on a computer screen would be enough to keep track of your passwords. With the Internet, you need to be more creative with your password and strategic when it comes to securing your codes from the bad guys.

The good news is that with a Password Manager, you no longer have to compromise convenience for additional security.

What is a Password Manager?

Password managers work by storing all of your log-in information for the websites and accounts you use. It makes logging in easier because the Password Manager does it for you automatically.

The Password Manager will encrypt your database file for all your passwords with a Master Key. In effect, the Master Key is the Master Password which you will have to come up with and is the only one you have to remember.

How Does a Password Manager Work?

Let’s say you want to log in to your Facebook account. When you use a Password Manager, you don’t have to type in your details onto the Facebook web page. Instead you type in the Master Password onto the Password Manager which fills in the correct details so you can access Facebook.

You no longer have to spend time thinking of your user name or combination of letters, numbers and signs for your password. Can you imagine not being able to log in to your Skype account because you forgot the password and the client is already online?

There are many great useful online services that we sign up with so we can make life and work easier. But the truth is, how many of these services do we actually use on a daily basis?

It is easy to forget passwords for websites that we hardly use. The same goes for emails. It is not uncommon for people to have multiple email accounts.

Another benefit of having a Password Manager is that it can create passwords for you.

Whether it is for one of your current online accounts or a new one, the Password Manager can generate a strong one for you and there is no need to extinguish brain cells trying to remember the combination. The Password Manager will do it for you.

 Which Type of Password Manager Should You Use?

Password managers are nothing new. The rise in demand for these programs was commensurate with the growth in popularity of the Internet. As more computers were integrated into systems that used Internet- based processes, it became more important to find ways to manage passwords and secure networks.  

There are different types of password managers that you can consider. The one you choose should have the features that would greatly benefit your business. Here are some of the password managers you can find in the market today:

1. Bonus-Feature Password Manager: 

Some operating systems, browsers and antivirus software offer password managers as a bonus feature or added value for choosing their program.

Examples would include those included in Chrome, Firefox and the Norton 360 comprehensive security suite.

If you feel your type of business does not need additional security and you are confident of what these password managers can do, go ahead and utilize the service.

2. Standalone Password Manager: 

These are password manager programs that are not associated with other software. KeePass and Aurora are good examples.

They provide strong encryption and Aurora has other features such as password generation, automatic form-filling and the ability to import passwords to a readable file.

This type of password manager is ideal if you use only one device for all of your computing work.

3. Password Managers with Embedded Security Hardware:

You will need hardware in order to get this password manager to save and encrypt data.

A good example would be Lenovo’s T-Series ThinkPad laptops that have an Embedded Security System mounted as a chipset on its motherboard. Only someone with the Master Password, fingerprint reader or both can access your data.

You should have this type of password manager if you work in a shared space environment where the risk of hacking is very high.

4. Web-Based Password Manager:

This is one of the latest types of password managers. It is a web-based application so you can use it from any Internet-connected device.

Examples would be RoboForm and PasswordSafe which have the same features as Aurora.

If your network consists of PC’s, laptops and tablets, this is the Password Manager for you because it can help you retrieve your passwords from all connected devices.

Risks of Using Password Managers and How to Avoid Them

Using a Password Manager will certainly make work more efficient. Instead of spending time and energy trying to remember passwords and usernames, the Password Manager will do the work for you.

But there are very real risks when entrusting your passwords to a singular system. If you had all of your valuables stored inside your home, what do you think would happen if a thief found your master key?

Here are a few tips on how to keep your Master Password secure regardless of the type of Password Manager program you are using:

  • Take steps to ensure the physical security of your computers at the home or at the office. For example, use computer locks or keep the rooms tightly secured before you leave your home or office.
  • Make sure you have a password to access the user account on your computer or mobile device.
  • Change your Master Password frequently.
  • Set a screen lock on your PC or mobile device.
  • Do not entrust your Master Password to anyone.
  • Regularly update your antivirus, malware programs and firewalls.
  • Enhance your security with a biometric program such as fingerprint reading in case you forget your Master Password.

You may also want to consider the old school approach in securing the protection of your Master Password. After all, given its importance, you should take precautionary measures in the event you somehow forget the combination.

Write down your Master Password on a piece of paper, place it in a sealed envelope and just like the recipe for Krispy Kreme’s donuts, Col. Sander’s Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Coca Cola formula, keep it under lock and key at a personal or bank vault.

How to Get Started With Your Password Manager

Once you have made your choice of Password Manager program the only thing you need to do is create your Master Password. It must be as strong as possible and offer virtually no chance of being uncovered by any hacker. Therefore, take your time coming up with one.

The most important takeaway in this article is to understand the value of managing and keeping track of your passwords given the sheer number of activities you may have on the Internet.

We hope you enjoyed reading our article on the importance of having a Password Manager. It has been a proven way of protecting websites since the 1990’s and will continue to evolve into better and more efficient programs throughout the next few years.

If you want to have one installed or have more questions on this valuable software program, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email.

 

Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s are pre-determined benchmarks used to measure or track the effectiveness of processes currently implemented to achieve your business objective.

KPI’s are also alternatively referred to as metrics.

The KPI’s of one business will be different from another. Determining the KPI’s would depend on the industry, type of organization and what the business hopes to accomplish.

A small business owner retailing fashion apparel would have a different set of KPI’s compared to a company that is publicly listed in the stock exchange.

For the retailer, his objective would be to increase sales revenue. There are several ways the business owner can approach this objective. These approaches involve implementing specific processes and functions that were designed to improve the level of sales.

But not all of these processes will generate the same results. Some may not even work at all. Some may even run contrary to your objective and produce worse results.

On the other hand, the publicly listed company’s objective would be to increase its stock price. Applying the KPI’s of the small fashion retailer would not help the publicly listed company accomplish its objective because improving the stock price involves considerations other than just increasing sales.

The set of KPI’s established by a business will also vary in terms of importance. A company that provides customer service will prioritize KPI’s that measure turnaround time (TAT) and ratio of resolved versus unresolved issues.

Meanwhile an owner of a fast-food business will most likely place more focus on metrics that track food cost, profitability and customer turnover.

The Importance of Having KPI’s for Your Business

KPI’s provide you the basis to analyze if these processes or functions are helping you stay on course toward achieving your goal. In the absence of a system of measuring performance, an organization’s management team would have no meaningful way of evaluating the effectiveness of its current strategies.

A company may end up allocating more resources to fund a process that is constantly under-delivering results. Management would have no reference point to determine what changes need to be made to improve its operational system.

Metrics and performance benchmarks are also necessary to keep employees focused on the company’s goals as well as their personal improvement.

For example, a company that provides moderation services use KPI’s that measure the employee’s ability to identify potential violations and their accuracy in citing the specific guideline.

A third metric to consider would be work ethic which is composed of timekeeping records, performance evaluation results, tests and number of infraction notices received.

The result of the KPI evaluation would give the company empirical basis for retaining, promoting or terminating the employee without risk of being accused of unfair labor practices.

Business owners and top level executives can use KPI’s to identify potential outcomes that could pose problems in the future. Foreshadowing threats will give organizations more time to develop the appropriate courses of action.

Types of KPI’s

While the kinds of metrics a business may use could be different from the ones used by another organization, generally, there are only 2 types of KPI’s:

  • Lagging Indicators – Measures results of business activities that have already occurred. Examples of Lagging Indicators are quarterly profit and revenue growth and other versions of financial statements.
  • Leading Indicators – These are metrics that provide guidance on future results. Examples of Leading Indicators are sales bookings and customer surveys.

Businesses that are looking to develop a set of KPI’s must strive to find a balance between lagging and leading indicators.

Another factor to consider is the difference between quantitative and qualitative indicators.

Quantitative indicators have a numerical basis; its result is confirmed or validated by a number or figure that corresponds to actual performance. Qualitative is much more abstract and subject to interpretation.

A good example of a qualitative indicator would be statistics on the number of terminated transactions on an E-commerce website’s checkout counter. If the number of terminated transactions is high, it could be an indicator of poor User Experience (UX).

 How to Develop KPI’s for Your Business

There is no strict rule on how to develop KPI’s for your business. However, we have a system which you can use as a reference to help you come up with your own set of metrics:

  • Identify – Conduct a thorough review of your business model and pinpoint your objective. Identify a set of KPI’s that you believe would best measure the performance of your company or a specific department.
  • Create – Once you have identified the KPI’s, develop a system of measuring performance and displaying results.
  • Evaluate – Even CEO’s need help evaluating KPI’s. If you have a team, distribute a copy of the KPI results to everyone and ask each one to contribute their analysis.
  • Change – If the team has arrived at a consensus on the end result of the KPI’s, identify which processes and functions are producing the lowest ROI. The options are to revise parameters of the processes, reduce its level of involvement or outright discontinuation.
  • Reassess – Come up with an objective reassessment of the KPI’s and your proximity to the stated goal or objective.

Let’s put this all together by using our earlier example on the moderation services company. For purposes of the discussion, let’s call the moderation services company, Benchmark Global.

  • Identify – Benchmark Global has a client from Australia that is involved in the entertainment industry. The client has social media platforms that allow chat and posting of images.

The client has instructed Benchmark to reduce the number of complaints from users. The complaints range from offensive content and inconsistent tagging of inappropriate posts.

  • Create – Benchmark has identified “Statistics”, “Accuracy” and “Work Ethic” as the KPI’s.

Statistics refers to the volume of inappropriate posts and offensive content tagged by the moderator. Accuracy refers to the moderator’s precision in tagging the post according to the appropriate guideline. Work Ethic refers to moderator’s overall attitude while on duty.

The questions to be answered were the following:

  • Statistics – “How many messages or content did the moderator tag?”
  • Accuracy – “Were these messages tagged according to moderation guidelines?”
  • Work Ethic – “Were there extraneous factors that contributed to the drop in moderation quality?”

The Head Moderator has reviewed all the trouble tickets that covered these complaints and has asked the Quality Assurance Officer to confirm the validity of the claims by cross-referencing the tagged post to the appropriate moderation guideline.

The Performance Analyst will review the historical performance of the moderators involved with the posts in question and will try to find inconsistencies, trends, patterns and potential pain points.

  • Evaluate – Benchmark’s moderation management team is composed of the Head Moderator, Performance Analyst and Quality Assurance Officer. They  have applied the following weights on each metric:
    • Accuracy – 60%
    • Statistics – 30%
    • Work Ethic – 10%

The company has decided to focus on improving on quality of work instead of increasing the volume of tagged posts. Benchmark theorizes that as quality improves, the volume of tagged posts will increase accordingly.

  • Change – Benchmark has seen that accuracy may have been compromised because a good number of moderators were consistently late for work and the rate of absenteeism has increased significantly. The company has decided to revise the weights as follows:
    • Accuracy – 50%
    • Statistics – 30%
    • Work Ethic – 20%

Supervisors were instructed to tighten up on time-keeping and to penalize habitually tardy moderators. Company policy had outlined specific courses of action to take during incidents of tardiness and absenteeism.

These courses of action included distribution of memos and an adjudication process if warranted.

  • Reassess – Benchmark’s moderation performance slightly dipped last quarter as evidenced by the decrease in accuracy but an increase in statistics. the company is confident it can recover lost ground with the newest adjustments in KPI’s.

It identified deteriorating levels of discipline as one of the possible causes. If moderators are routinely absent or late at work, the quality and consistency of moderation will suffer.

The inverse relationship between accuracy and statistics led to one conclusion: Moderators had gotten sloppy at work.

By implementing disciplinary rules as the supervisors should have done in the first place, moderators may start taking their duties more seriously.

In order to stay on course, Benchmark may consider re-training the moderators and/or terminating those who exhibited unprofessional behavior at work.

KPI’s should always remain dynamic or flexible because business conditions can change without warning. The processes and functions which did not contribute to the success of your campaign this year may become valuable next year.

The normal course of action is to use business analytics to develop your set of KPI’s. Analytics can be data collected from your website, social media pages and online marketing programs.

You can read more about analytics in our article “Why is Analytics Important in Marketing?

Conclusion

The important thing to remember when running a business is to always stay on top of your performance by keeping track of your numbers. A website is a must if you want to be competitive in the industry. It is the hub of all of your online activities.

Ask your web designer or developer to pull out your site’s analytics on a monthly basis and discuss the numbers with you. In time and with consistency you will become more proficient in analyzing your numbers.

The same goes for marketing analytics. Consult with your Digital Marketer and determine which online platforms and networks are generating the highest ROI.

A very important rule to remember is to keep your metrics simple. You can get lost in the number of processes you can use to measure business performance.

When it comes to KPI’s, more isn’t better. If there are too many indicators to review and evaluate, you can get confused and find yourself veering off- course from your original intent.

We hope you enjoyed our article on KPI’s and found it highly informative. If you would like to know more about metrics and performance benchmarks and how it applies to business, please feel free to give us a call or an email.

Technology exists to make life and work easier and more convenient. But some days it seems that technology exists to make sure we do more things in the same amount of time. We’re in a constant cycle of making lists, taking down notes and cramming information in our smartphones and other devices in an effort to remember what we need to do. Yet, we end up forgetting or misplacing information. Enter Evernote.

Evernote is an online note- taking application. It is packed with many note management tools but you don’t have to use all of them. Choose the one that fits your needs.

Whether you run your own business, work for a private company, if you are a student or a stay-at-home parent, you will find great value in having Evernote in your life.

We only have 24 hours in a day. Factor in sleep, then we probably are awake 16 to 18 of those 24 hours. For some people, 16 to 18 hours is not enough time in a day to get everything done.

The problem is not the quantity of tasks they need to accomplish. The main issue is time management. The root cause of poor time management can be linked to lack of organizational skills.

Evernote and the Evolution of Note Taking

If you could find a way to organize your tasks effectively, you can be productive and accomplish more tasks in the amount of time you have every day. One of the skills you need to develop in order to be more organized is note taking.

Let’s look at some examples where note taking comes in handy:

  • You are in a lecture and the presenter recites a litany of key statistics, figures, events, dates and significant developments. Note taking will help you organize the salient points of the presentation.

You can highlight the areas which require more research. You can organize the notes so you can develop a more effective study plan.

  • You are the Project Manager of a remote team whose members work in different parts of the world. This means you have to consider time zone differentials when meeting or collaborating with the group.
    • One of the best ways to establish close collaboration with a remote team is by sharing notes. Whenever you meet, take down notes from the discussion. Organize them in a well-structured format then share it with your team members. Ask them to add their ideas to those indicated on your notes.
  • You are in a conference call with an important client. He will sign up your services but you have to provide assurances that you can do the job. The client discusses his requirements to qualify you as a service provider. A smart approach to note taking will ensure you do not miss any details from the client.
    • Note- taking is also essential for managing tasks at home. If the spouse wants you to pass by the supermarket so she can prepare this Sunday’s dinner of Bouillabaisse, you better make sure you have the correct ingredients in your shopping cart.
  • And what about your health and fitness regimen? With note- taking, never forget a workout or an exercise that your personal trainer wants you to do. There is a big difference between doing 10 sets of 3 repetitions and 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Evernote can do all of this for you!

15 Benefits of Using Evernote

We’ve used Evernote with great success to help us run Mountaintop. It started out as a project management tool. But as we grew our company, we began to appreciate more of the benefits of using Evernote not just for business but for everyday life.

1. It’s Free and Easy to Use

Evernote is freeware. You can download it on your desktop or mobile device. All you need is a gmail account to set up Evernote. And if you don’t like it, just delete it from your list of programs.

Evernote also has a user friendly interface. Unlike other project management tools, Evernote is very navigable. The reason is the company has done research on the best and most effective ways to take down notes.

Everything about Evernote is a result of the research. The orientation of its interface was designed in what the company believes is the most effective format for note taking and project management.

2. You Can Sync Evernote with Multiple Devices

Even though you decided to download Evernote on your desktop, you can sync it with other devices such as your laptop, tablet or smartphone. With Evernote, you are not limited to just one device.

You can access, retrieve or store files from the same central account regardless of the device you use. This makes Evernote a valuable tool when you are working from remote locations or frequently mobile.

3. Attach Files to Your Notes

You can make your notes more effective with visual aids. Evernote allows you copy and paste files directly and this includes images.

Do you need to attach a PDF? No problem! Evernote will simply display the first page then include a mini navigation bar so you can review the contents of the PDF.

4. Create File Categories

Because Evernote is applicable to every facet of life, you may find yourself losing track of notes. However, Evernote has the awesome feature of allowing you to categorize your notes into “notebooks”.

The notebooks are always displayed in the Evernote interface. You can also adjust this if you want more viewing space. This is an effective way to keep everything organized and within plain sight all the time.

5. Save Web Pages

Research is a big part of what we do. If we come across online resources that we could use as references, Evernote has features that allows us to copy parts of the web page or the entire web page itself as a note. All of the page’s contents; images and text are held intact.

Then you can categorize these references according to content. It makes it easy for us to search for the correct reference for the topic or industry that we have to conduct research on.

6. You Can Integrate Email

Email is the most utilized medium of communication and Evernote has taken that into consideration. With Evernote, you can email notes to contacts. Those who receive your email will see the message “Sent from Evernote” above your email.

Having email integration means you never have to leave Evernote to go to your webmail. It saves time and makes work more productive and efficient.

7. Avoid Distractions… Work Offline With Evernote

Don’t you hate it when the Skype icon starts flashing because of message notifications or activity in a shared group account? And the same goes for other messaging platforms like Viber and Facebook Messenger. It can throw you off track when you are focusing on completing specific tasks.

You can make changes or entries in Evernote even when you are offline then get them synchronized once you are connected to the Internet.

8. Share Notes

If you work with a remote team, this is a big plus for you. Talent is never confined to one city, state or global region. Technology has allowed us to bridge logistical differences and work with the best people in the business regardless of where they are located.

Evernote makes remote work easier by letting you share notes or folders effortlessly with team members. Did someone just say remote work does not compare to shared space collaboration? Evernote took care of that.

Ask your teammates to comment, share opinions and suggestions on your notes. This is collaborative effort done in real time!

9. Take Snap Shots

Evernote has a built-in feature that allows you to take snapshots from your PC or smartphone. Let’s say you receive materials from a supplier. You can take a snapshot of the invoice and delivery receipt then store it in a categorized notebook. This will help you organize documentation from suppliers and creditors for accounting purposes.

10. Capitalize on its Optical Character Recognition Program

Let’s go back to our previous example.

Evernote can scan the snapshots of the invoices you had taken for readable text then converts it into searchable text. This is Evernote’s OCR or Optical Character Recognition program at work.

When you are reconciling expenses, you can easily pull out documents that fall under specific suppliers or creditors.

11. Track Your Productivity

Studies have shown that in the United States, the average worker only puts in 90 minutes of productive time per day. In an 8 hour schedule, that’s a productivity rating of only 19%.

If you want to increase your level of productivity, you should learn to keep track of your time. Use Evernote to schedule reminders for 30 minute breaks every 90 minutes of focused, uninterrupted work. Each 90 minute focus block represents total time spent on a task.

This way, you can accomplish 3 to 4 tasks and increase productivity by 300% in an 8-hour work day.

12. Create Journals

Journals are a great way to keep track of ideas or staying within your goals. Some people use journals to chronicle processes and experiences.

Here are a few good examples of why you should keep a journal:

  • When you are testing theories or business models before applying them to your enterprise.
  • When you are in the process of developing new products and services for your business.
  • When you are trying to be more fit and keeping track of your diet.
  • When you want to stay motivated.
  • If you want to chronicle your travels and life experiences.

13. Never Forget Important Data

Sometimes it seems that life is a series of numbers. We’re covered  by passwords, personal identification numbers or significant dates. It can be a challenge trying to remember all of these types of numerical information.

With the exception of passwords, store some of the information in a confidential file in Evernote. If you are in the filling out forms that require an identification number, you can easily retrieve the data from your mobile phone.

14. Never Lose an Idea Ever Again!

All it takes to trigger an idea is inspiration. And inspiration can strike anywhere. You could be at the grocery store or at a family reunion when that light bulb begins to spark.

If you have a brilliant idea, the last thing you would want is to lose it. Evernote has a voice memo feature that allows you to make audio memos which you can email to yourself.

15. Record Important Meetings

A big part of our work at Mountaintop is data gathering and the preliminary stage is when we meet clients. We never want to miss the important details because every bit of information is crucial when designing websites or conceptualizing digital marketing campaigns.

Evernote has made the data gathering process simpler, faster and more efficient with its recording feature. We can even record phone interviews! Once we open our PC, the audio is there waiting to be transcribed.

And if you have an Android phone, Evernote phone will take the extra step and transcribe the audio for you.

Conclusion:

How many list-type articles have you come across that exceeded 10 items? Believe it or not, there are more than 15 benefits of using Evernote. We could actually write a “Part 2” and still come up with a complete article.

It only goes to show the impact Evernote can have on your business and personal life. You can trust that Evernote will continue to push the boundaries of project management and introduce more dynamic and usable features over the next few years.

Did our article enlighten you on the many benefits of Evernote? Did you come across other features that were not covered by our article? Please share your ideas in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you!