LinkedIn Endorsements: How do they work?

In today’s economy, plenty of perspective employees will look for any advantage to land that job. They may be elated to find an endorsement in their LinkedIn account.

What is an Endorsement?

When you fill out a LinkedIn account you also fill out any relevant skills.  An endorsement is when someone else gives you a “thumbs up” regarding any of these skills.  It’s essentially a shorter version of a LinkedIn recommendation.

Employers can look at a profile and relevant skills.  Any endorsements will also be visible.  They can then go to the profile of the endorsers and see how they connect with the perspective employee.

How are they managed?

If you’re an employer, you should know, that of the up to fifty skills that LinkedIn allows, only ten skills are allowed to have endorsements.

If you’re looking for a job, you can go to Edit Profile option and manage your endorsements under the skills and expertise tab.  It’s best to keep endorsements from family members and people only tangentially connected to you to a minimum.

Does it work?

Endorsements are part of a quick overview.  It’s a good way for an employer to glance over the strengths of a perspective employee.  If the endorsements match the needed skills then perhaps a deeper look is needed.  And a chance is what most would-be employees want.

Tips for Creating a Social Business

There’s no doubt about it: marketing has gone social.  Customers are more apt than ever to start tweeting about their service.  So what are you going to do about it?


It’s likely you’ve either thought about or have already set up a Facebook account for your business.  However, many business owners fall into the trap of neglecting their social media accounts.  These accounts should be treated like another touchpoint for your business, like adding another customer service number that the whole world can see.

Keeping on top of updates like when you’re having a sale and responding to customer comments is essential.  Though it may add another hour to your day going through your social media outlets, it will create another layer to your marketing dynamic.


If you haven’t created a Youtube, Twitter, or Facebook account for your business yet, you should probably take a deep breath and think about it.  Although it takes a few minutes to set up, you must be willing to commit.  A poorly maintained social media outlet is like having an unkempt front entrance.

Lacking in time and resources to commit to a  social media campaign is a sure sign you quit while your ahead.


Should you chose to accept this task, you should invest in media monitoring apps.  For example, Radian6 is a paid services that gives you reports on your various social media outlets.  That way you can track and see what garners attention and what doesn’t.

Social Media is still in it’s infancy.  It seems like the Wild West where every business, large and small, are on the frontier.

As always, you can count on us in case you need an it services company to cover all your IT needs.

Shorter, More Productive Meetings: Yeah there’s an app for that

Less Meeting is an app that works with Outlook or through your web browser.  Like it’s name suggests, the app is geared towards making business meetings more productive and thus having them less frequently.

Step One: Setting Up

This app allows you to sync your calendars across various platforms including your Google Calendar and iCalander.  Selected contacts can then be invited and reminded of meetings.  Well begun is half done, as they say.

After you meeting time set, the app allows you to fill out a short outline of what you want to cover.

Step Two: Setting Limits

Probably one of the most intriguing aspects of Less Meeting is the workplace culture that it tries to create.  Meetings are designed to have a thirty minute limit.  Metrics allow you to measure what everyone is done who is attending the meetings.

For example, any notes taken or documents submitted are tracked centrally.  This allows the person running the meeting to see productivity during the meeting.  Thus, the best practices can be deciphered.  Like how Jim needs to be sent two reminders for every meetings because one just isn’t enough.

Step Three: Be More Efficient

Less Meeting has plenty of built in typing shortcuts so you can take notes more quickly.  It’s a little clunky at first, but as time goes on it goes better.  As stated before, all notes are tracked so they can be easily organized and presented.  These notes can be exported via e-mail.

Step Four: Follow up

Meetings are ends in and of themselves.  They’re tools to make sure things get done.  Less Meetings has a follow up feature.  You can assign tasks based on the notes taken during the meeting and send to-do lists to various employees.

After the lists are send, your employees can then write back saying that they have completed their tasks or require clarification or help, etc.

Step Five: Go Forth

Meetings are always going to be a drag.  With the Less Meeting App, maybe they’ll be less of a drag.  The pricing is based on the number of users, ranging from $12-8 a month.

Keeping Up Appearances: Managing Your Online Reputation

It’s often an adage that you should always be on your best behavior when in public because you don’t know who is watching.  Sitting behind a computer, it’s easy to forget that your business’ online persona is out for the public to view…forever.

However, all the ways to protect your online reputation revolve around the principles of neutrality and politeness.

On social media, never get in any type of argument.  It’s always better to extend an olive branch rather than trying to put a snarky customer in their place.  Better to appear that you are a company that cares about customer concerns than an eloquent debater.

Off that point, although your business is local your online presence is more far reaching.  Expressing views that are not vital to business’ image is risky.  Perhaps expressing your values attracts customers, but it may alienate some.  It’s something to consider if you ever expanding your business into another area.  Anything put online, stays there.

And unlike Vegas, what’s on social media is very public.

Office 365 vs Google Docs

They say you get what you pay for, but nothing is better than free.  That’s why for years people have been touting Google Docs as a way to go to get something for virtually nothing.  However, in December Google changed the pricing structure for its new business users.  Now there is a two tier pricing structure with $50 per user per year for basic services and $150 per user per year for advance security features.

The old adage holds true, you do get what you pay for.  The question now is do you get more if you pay for Microsoft’s new service: Office 365 which costs $6 per month for the first 50 users?

For Storage

You get more with Office 365.  Powered by Skydrive, the system offers an initial 25 gigabytes and $50 for each 100 more.  Google only dishes out 5 gigabytes at a price $60 for the next 100.


Google has the edge here.  The platform they use is more conducive to easily sharing, usually involving just a click and search through your contacts.  As of right now, Office 365 has trouble sharing with its desktop brethren.


It all comes down to apps doesn’t it?  Google Docs has a bit of an edge in document files.  They export and preview much easier than its Microsoft counterpoint.  However, Office 365 has a cleaner spreadsheet.  So, it’s a bit of a wash whose better in this arena.

The Bottom Line

For those who already have Google Business accounts you’ll probably want to keep your free services. People using sharepoint and other Microsoft platforms should probably stick with 365.


An IT Guy’s Guide to Buying a Laptop

In this go-go world of ours, it seems like a laptop is now an essential for the small business.  Open any Sunday circular and you’ll be bombarded with ads for laptops.  So what to spend your hard earned money on?

Laptop vs Tablet

There are more and more crossovers between laptops and tablets.  For example, the new Windows tablet and the Asus Transformer both have the option to use a keyboard.  However, they still cater to two different crowds.  Tablets tend to be lighter and smaller since they’re designed to be really used with two thumbs or one hand.  This means there is less space for things like memory and processing power.  So a tablet would suite someone who’s constantly on the go and never to really has a home base.  Otherwise, the laptop still has the advantage and processing power and versatility.

The RAM has touched the wall

For the typical user 4GB of RAM is enough.  RAM stands for random access memory.  It’s essentially the amount of resources that your company has to do the tasks at hand.  Lots of deals in circulars advertise refurbished laptops with 2GB of RAM.  In this day and age, it’s not enough for a smooth running experience.

SSD is the way to go

SSD stands for solid state drive.  Unlike older hard drive technology, SSD has no moving parts.  This means that it lasts longer and is quicker.  Laptops with SSD tend to wake from sleep faster and have shorter boot up times.  The tradeoff is that they have less storage space.  However, with cloud storage being all the rage, 128GB of space should be plenty.

What about the processors?

I wrote this article under the assumption that the average small business owner uses their computer for excel, web browsing, and word processing.  Though if you business relies on photo editing or movie making, then a more powerful CPU or a dedicated graphics card would not go amiss.  However, the average user isn’t going to need the extra power or want the added cost.

Nothing Beats Free: Part 2 of an going series

When doing business nothing is better than free.  So, what’s good out there that’s free?  There’s plenty out there for business owner on a budget.

For Your Security: Windows Defender

For Windows 8, Microsoft combined its anti-spyware and real time anti-virus scanner into the Windows Defender. It’s not the best security suite around, but it’ll cost you nothing.  If you’re on a budget, just keep your Windows Defender up-to-date and you should be mostly secure.

Human Resource Management: Orange HRM

Orange HRM is an open source database software.  It helps keep track of job applicants, organize employee information, and assign permissions at a touch of a button.  It sounds complicated, but this software has a low learning curve.  There are paid SaaS (software as a service), but they are not necessary for most small businesses.

E-mail Marketing: MailChimp

MailChimp has several tiers of service. However, the free one is pretty generous.  It lets you send up to 12,000 e-mails to up to 2,000 e-mail addresses. With it, you can create quasi-customized templates to create a fairly unique look for your business.  The free version also has analytic data on your e-mail marketing campaign.

And of course, if you need IT support you can find that here.


A Week at CES

I spent all of last week at the Consumer Electronics Show.  From CES Unveiled to the obscure companies located at the edges of South Hall, I got a chance to see it all.  There are few trends that became apparent after being there for nearly six days.

The Smart Home

At the LG Press Conference on the 7th even before the official show began, LG held a press conference.  Besides patting themselves on the back about the Optima G, they also talked a lot about smart homes.  A whole slew of appliances this year will be released with features like Smart ThinQ. Smart ThinQ is a NFC (Near-Field Communication) system that allows you to upload and download information from your large appliances like washing machine.  For example, you can look up what wash cycle is best for your stained shirt with the LG Washer App and then place your smart phone near the NFC tag on the washer and boom it goes.

The Z-Wave Alliance also made an appearance at CES. They showcased a plethora of devices ,including the Fibaro Home System 2, that work at the 900’s MHz range known as Z-waves.  If you installed everything they were selling you’d be able to control your windows, thermostat, doors, lights, and anything else that used electricity in your house via your smartphone.

The trends is that more consumers want control over everything, including the very walls they live in.  I know they say this every year, but 2013 may be the year of the smart house.

More Companies Making a Play for the US Market

The Chinese company Hisense made a bit of a splash by taking over Microsoft’s old floor space in the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  That came front, center, and in force. They unveiled the XT880 and XT900 which are both 4K TVs.  They also showed off a smart fridge.  This is a big move because Hisense is the manufacture behind Dynex and Insigna TVs.  Now, they’ve gone full hi-end when entering the US market, unusual when dealing with a Chinese company.  However, it might not be a risky move since Hisense had over 2 billion in overseas sales in 2012.

Does CES Still Matter?

With Apple and Microsoft leaving CES for their own shows, CES has had to take a few hits.  However, it’s becoming a place for smaller and mid-sized companies to show off their wares.  Maybe not on the show floor where space can cost $20,000, but at the smaller events like Digital Experience and Show Stoppers.

I managed to attend the LG and Hisense press conferences.  At both, they tried to sell a life style rather than introduce a lot of new products.  That seems to be the trend for larger companies.  Selling a lifestyle insures a repeat customer, showing off their personality through their purchases.

All-in-all, CES had a good showing this year.

Does Your Business Need An App?

Confucius once said that the inferior man knows what would sell, while the superior man knows what is right.  Any small business owner will tell you that it’s much easier to be the superior man, because it’s hard to pin down how to sell.

What we do know is that technology often goes hand-in-hand with increases in business.  From the cash register to shipping tracking codes, technology can lower the barrier for a business transaction to occur.

It’s just common sense that the easier something is, the more likely we are to do it.
So, is launching an app a good idea for your small business?  It all comes down to: What do you want?  Apps for a small business can be boiled down to three varieties.  They either, supply information, increase exposure, or deepen consumer loyalty.

We live in the information age.  An app can supply information about your products and services.  In planning on making a purchase, knowing is half the battle.

Increasing exposure is similar, but differs in one important way: exposure is just getting eyeballs on your company.  It doesn’t have to provide any information.  It only needs to grab someone’s attention.

Finally, there are a variety of apps that deepen consumer loyalty.  Rewards, promotions, heads up on special offers all fall under the purview of enhancing loyalty.  The best of such apps create almost the air of mystic around the perspective customer.

When choosing a pre-made or designing an app for your business be sure to make sure that it favors at least one of these categories.

BYOD: Reining in the Cost

We over here in tech land have often extolled the virtues of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Allowing your employees a certain modicum of freedom can go a long way in increasing their comfort and productivity.  However, this relatively new business practice can come with unforeseen costs.

Originally, the phenomenon was coined the consumeration of enterprise.  It was intended for high level executives only.  But as the practice spread, a few companies, like Network Sourcing Advisors, began to feel the pinch.

How can a practice that requires employees to buy their own equipment with their own money eat at the bottom line?  Well, taking smartphones as an example the costs are usually hidden, but rest assured, they will rear their ugly heads.

With Network Sourcing Advisors, it began with transition costs.  They had company-issued smartphones, but those all had to get shelved.  Those employees that didn’t have their own smartphones were upset.  Those that did, had to learn how to use them in accordance to companies policies.  Network Sourcing Advisors ended up $300,000 over-budget to bring 600 personnel up to speed.

Also, take the publisher Slate for example.  The company began subsidizing their employees devices.  To make sure that all their employees are up-to-date using the most efficient data plans, they estimate that they shoulder about $1,020 a year per employee.  They do this because the cost is tax deductible.  And of course, the benefit to the employee.

We’ve covered some of these bases before.  However, until now we’ve lacked concrete numbers.  And as always, whenever considering such an ambitious IT project, one should consider augmenting their staff in order to make things run more smoothly.