Monday, May 1, 2017

Conference Call Security Tips

Those of us whose job involves a lot of travelling, work with remote clients or work in an organization with many remote staff, know that conference calling is very beneficial. One issue which doesn’t appear to have caught up with the growth of this practice is the establishment of its security to prevent unauthorized access to a conference, and the ability to host calls. So, here are a few things to keep in mind regarding the security of your conference calls.

Do not Share your Chairperson's Pass Code with Others
Only distribute the participant's pass code to the conference call participants. The chairperson's pass code is only for use by the chairperson. So, keep that secure.

If you are the Chairperson, Always use your Chairperson's Pass Code
Always use your chairperson pass code when dialing into a conference where you are the chairperson. It gives you access to some additional commands that enable you to control and manage your conference.

Take Attendance
The obvious need to take attendance is to ensure all required participants have joined the conference. From a security perspective, taking attendance ensures you are aware if there are any unwanted participants in the conference.

Monitor the Number of Lines
Some conference call services allow you to manage calls via the service's website. If there is a discrepancy between the number of lines in the conference and the roll call, you can remove unwanted callers via the service's website.

Lock Your Conference
Some conference call services allow you to lock the conference call once all participants enter.  This feature is valuable when you do not want additional participants to join your call after it has begun.

End the Conference
Use the "end the conference" feature to ensure that your conference ends when you hang up. That will prevent anyone lingering on the conference, and will prevent anyone from using the meeting for their own conference after yours has ended.

Change Your Participant Pass Code
If you do not regularly change the participant pass code, it is possible for someone who was invited to a prior conference to join future conferences. Changing your participant pass code will prevent unwanted participants from joining future conferences.

Limit Recurring Meetings
If you host recurring meetings, anyone with those meeting details and knowledge of the time of the meeting will be able to join even if they are no longer supposed to be involved.

Don't Schedule Back-to-Back Conferences
If you schedule two separate back-to-back conferences with two separate groups of people, and you use the same participant pass code for both, it would very easy for participants from the first call to stay on the line for the second call, or for participants from the second call to join in early. Keep your conference calls separated by about 30 minutes to limit unwanted conference attendees.

Don't set "Start Without Host"
Disabling this feature will prevent participants from talking to each other before the chairperson joins the conference. In the end, it will prevent people with the participant pass code from trying to use the conference service for their own conferences, and without the need of having a chairperson.

Change Your Chairperson's Pass Code
Check your call log on the service's website to make sure that no unplanned conferences have occurred. If you see any unplanned conferences, or feel that your chairperson's pass code has been compromised in any way, immediately change your chairperson's pass code.

Thank you to my long-time friend Andy Hladek, IT Director at Princeton Information, for suggesting this terrific topic and contributing to the creation of this post.

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

When to Not Use Social Media

Social media for your business or profession is no longer optional. When you have a presence on social media, you make it easier for your clients & prospects to find and connect with you. By connecting with your clients on social media, you’re more likely to increase customer retention and brand loyalty. However, there are some times when using social media to communicate is not appropriate. Let's discuss some of those occasions in this post...

Having Sites Where You are Not Active
Having social media sites where you are not active can be viewed more negatively than not having a social media presence. Without a social media presence, you may not easily be found online. Or, you may not effectively promote your products and services to your clients. However, clients finding inactive sites may decide that you are not effective at doing your job. Or, you do not complete what you have started.

If you are new to social media, start using social media slowly. Start with 1 social media site. Only add a new social media site when you are comfortable with your ability to effectively use that site. 

Only Use Sites That Add Value for You
Be active only on the social media sites where your clients and competitors have a presence. 

Developing a presence where your clients are is quite obvious. It gives you the opportunity to increase your social media marketing effectiveness, and maximize your return for the time you participate on social media to  promote your service offerings to clients.

Developing a presence where your competitors may seem less obvious. However, it is equally important. Your prospects are searching for the information and services they need. It's the same information and services that your competition offers. If you want clients and prospects to find you, you need to be where they are searching. Not convinced? Drive down any street to look for a fast-food restaurant. You'll find several within a few blocks. The fast-food restaurants already figured out that you will likely not make your dining selection until you see the available restaurants in front of you.

When it's Better to Engage with People 1-on-1
Online interactions do not replace personal interactions. Social media can thrust you into a wider audience. But interacting directly with your clients and prospects once a connection is made will create a stronger bond than with social media alone. Your clients will learn more about you, your service offerings and value proposition via direct conversations. They will begin to trust you which will increase the opportunity to convert that conversation into a sales transaction.

Use Social Media For Business or Personally, not Both
If your primary driver for using social media is for business, then don't (or at least minimally) use it personally. Social media is a very public platform. You may be posting comments or opinions just to friends and family. However, social media does not have such limits. It's likely your commentary will be found by your customers. It your posts and views do not align with your business or clients (e.g your political or social views), it will be perceived negatively by your clients.

When Going Through a Legal Issue (business or personal)
When you are going through any legal issue, either personally or in business, it's very likely that your opponent will gather all available information about you that can help them make their case. While we think that means negative information, positive information you post can be dangerous for your case as well:
  • Venting about the issue in progress can have a damaging effect during the negotiation. You may be using social media to vent frustration, complain about the progress of the case or negotiation, or you may be posting negative information about your opponent. When you opponent finds this negative information, they may likely use it against you.
  • Showing off your successes can have a negative impact as well. Posting pictures of your new expensive car, discussing the nice vacation from which you just returned, or informing your reader that you inherited money can impact a case where you want to limit an expenditure. As an example, if you are being sued for a large amount of money, you may make it harder to defend the amount in the suit if you boasted about the expensive car you just bought.

Social media is a wonderful tool for networking and marketing. However, even social media has a risky side, with its use or the information found sometimes having a negative impact. Therefore, use social media wisely.

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