Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What is Your Brand?

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room.” - Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon. Mr. Bezos' quote expresses the truth about branding. It's about personal connections and human emotions. Good branding increases the value of your company, and makes acquiring new customers easier. So, let's discuss how to create and promote your brand...
Your brand represents the sum of people’s perception of your customer service, reliability and reputation. Branding yourself means to develop a unique professional identity and message that sets you apart from others in your industry. Building a brand helps you to create trust with your target market, and it helps to create loyalty so your customers continue to keep coming back and provide referrals. Since your brand is in the eyes of others, you must promote and portray your brand in the way that is easy for them to understand, and how you want to be known and remembered. Here are the 4 things that are most important to your prospects and customers:

Who are you?
Your brand starts with you since it is you. Start by taking an objective personal inventory. We all think we know ourselves pretty well. However, a personal inventory is an essential step in building your brand. Start with your passions: What makes you want to dig deep to deliver? What are your talents? What areas don’t interest you? Where are you weak? Understanding what you are best at is understanding you and your brand. Then, you should be able to briefly introduce yourself in layman's terms, not with business titles and terms, so it's easy for others to understand. As for me, "I am an information technology consultant with my own company, Princeton Technology Advisors".

What do you do?
While “What do you do?” may seem synonymous with “Who are you?”, it really is more of the next step of defining your brand. So, the answer must be different. Most people respond to that question with what’s printed on their business card. Starting with your job title can be presumptuous because it tells the other person that you assume s/he knows what it means. That person may not. Instead of defining yourself by your role, do so in terms of how your role impacts the others: Your clients. That does a better job of opening the door to a conversation. For me, I say, “I provide information technology solutions and training to small business and non-profit organizations with little or no in-house technology resources.”

Why is what you do important to others?
In the end, you may be working to serve your own needs. To that end, and to be successful, you need to serve others. You need to demonstrate to your clients that you provide what they could not provide for themselves. You need to define for your clients the types problems you understand uniquely well, and the solutions you can deliver uniquely well. What I offer that is important is, "I help make it easy for you to understand the meaning and value of the technology your organization needs".

Promote Your Brand
Once you create your brand you need to build and promote it. You should be writing, teaching and speaking about your areas of expertise on a regular basis. Write articles for professional journals, social media sites and blog sites. Speaking and teaching engagements are opportunities to be seen and heard. Start small and keep building. You may not land high-quality engagements immediately. But if you keep at it, you'll build your following and get invited to speak at bigger and more notable venues. People will begin to develop the confidence that you are the expert they must engage with if you write, teach and speak about your areas of expertise.

Show your audience that you have expertise in your field and that you are willing to share your knowledge with them for their benefit. Then, people will be saying wonderful things about you when you are not in the room.


Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Keep Safe from Computer Hacking

Computer hacking is identifying weaknesses in computer systems or networks, and to exploit those weaknesses to gain access. People who engage in computer hacking activities are called hackers. While many hack out of simple intellectual curiosity, some have less noble motives and are interested to steal or change information, or conduct destructive activities.

Who Are the Hackers?
Computer hacking is very common among teenagers and young adults, although there are many older hackers as well. Many hackers are true technology buffs who enjoy learning more about how computers work and consider computer hacking a kind of “art” form. They often enjoy programming and have expert-level skills in one particular technology. Their intentions are not nefarious.

Some hackers are professionals hired by organizations or governments. Their role is essentially to commit acts of espionage or disruption against other organizations or governments.

Some companies actually hire computer hackers as part of their technical staff. These individuals use their skills to find flaws in the company’s security system so that they can be repaired quickly. In many cases, this type of computer hacking helps prevent criminal hackers from gaining access to the company's system.

Why Hackers Hack
Hackers hack because they can. For some hackers, breaking into someone's computer is simply a challenge. They may not specifically intend to do damage to the computer. The thrill of simply gaining access is often enough. Some are eager to gain notoriety by demonstrating they can defeat a computer system. While others have criminal intentions, such as stealing information which they can sell or to cause damage systems.

What I need to Protect from Hackers
You need to protect your data. If your computer is hacked and the contents of the hard drive are deleted or destroyed, you can always reinstall the operating system and other programs. Your data is most important, and you must protect that accordingly.

Ways to Prevent Hacking
  1. Update your operating and other software from the manufacturer frequently, if not automatically. This keeps hackers from accessing your computer through vulnerabilities in outdated programs.
  2. Download up-to-date security programs and associated security definition files, including antivirus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware.
  3. Implement a strong password policy:
    • Use the 8+4 rule for your passwords. That is, the minimum length of your password should be 8 characters. Plus, include at least 1 of each character in these 4 categories:
      • Upper-case letters
      • Lower-case letters
      • Numbers
      • Special characters (e.g. !, @, #, $...)
    • Change your passwords often - about every 60 days.
    • NEVER share your account user ID or password with anyone.
  4. Use 2-step authentication for any online service that offers it:
    • The first step is entering your user ID and password.
    • The second step is that the service you just logged into will send you a random code to your personal device (e.g. phone, tablet, or laptop). Once you receive the code, you will enter that in the appropriate place on the screen. That means a hacker would need both your user ID & password and your personal device to access your account. Adding two-step verification adds only a little time to your log-in process, and could potentially save you a lot of trouble.
  5. Look out for suspicious emails. A lot of hacking attacks are performed through malicious email. "Phishing" sends victims seemingly innocuous emails that will lead victims to fake websites asking to update their personal information. Check the email address from the sender to see if it matches the website you think it’s from. For example, emails from Microsoft typically end with "...@microsoft.com". It should not look like "microsoft@another-domain.com" or "...@mmicrosoft.com" (extra character), etc.
  6. Keep sensitive data off the cloud. When your data is in the cloud, the security is managed by the cloud storage company. Don't assume their security protocols are as diligent as you need. When using cloud storage solutions, use those that offer encryption. Encryption encodes the data which can only be decoded with a specific key. Stealing encrypted data files is virtually useless.
  7. Don't download email attachments (e.g., pictures, games, electronic greetings) unless it's from someone you know. They may contain programs intent on causing harm.
  8. Backup your data regularly. If a hacker accessed your computer and decides to delete or encrypt your data. You can recover your data from your backup.
There's no way to 100% prevent your computer from being hacked. Hackers continue to hack and look for computers with vulnerabilities. However, being vigilant and diligent will greatly reduce your risk, and keep your computer and data safe.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.