Archives for October 2015

Part 1 : SMEs, Get Super Social

Self-employed, Businessman, Industrialist, are the titles claimed by my 40+ old SME owner friends. They are entrepreneurs, family-persons, charity-doers, socially respected, and reciprocative to their own communities,


Their professional and social image building happen through their hard work and values. That sounds so fulfilling and satisfying.

But reality is different. Now a days, unlike old days, reference checking is no longer done through grapevine circuits. 



Reference is checked for various reasons, they could be : for your kids matrimonial matter, or for nominating you to hold a respectable post in a club / association / community group, or for checking your credibility for new international business association.


When I see most of SME owners’ profiles on social media or professional networks, I realize immense scope of improvement.


Remember the friendship of Kishan (Amitabh Bachhan) and Bishan (Amad Khan) in all time popular movie Yarana? The movie is all about transforming a raw but immensely talented rustic singer into a finessed successful rock star.


I feel like going the Yarana way for my SME owner friends. 

You are amazing people who make sense to our economy and society. I have extracted some important tips for your social and professional image building.



I will cover linked in tips in this post, and facebook / twitter / pinterest tips in next part.


Linkedin Tips by my experience


I know SMEs don’t have habit of resume writing unlike employed professional.


Check these profiles (Click Here, Profile 1, Profile 2) and modify your profile to look professional.  Put a professionally taken portrait photograph on your profile. 

Refrain from posing before your Merc or at your exhibition stall or with a celebrity / politician.



Always link your personal email id for receiving notifications. I observed, many SME owners keep info@xyzenterprise.com which is checked by many people. It is question of your professional image, you should be the only person to attend and respond to notifications.


Always get connected with your current and ex-employees, this is very useful to track their career growth. Give recognition to them by skills endorsements and recommendations. Make sure that you endorse one skill per month per employee or connection. I mean, do not endorse too many skills at ones.


Spend only 15 minutes a day on linked in. 5 mins to check new connection requests, 3 mins to check updates by your connections, 2 mins to share something interesting with your connections and 5 mins to explore and send connection requests.


Let me elaborate


5 minutes to check new connection requests


Accept Connections from potential customers, vendors, qualified professionals and other SME owners. Do not accept connection requests from students, freshers seeking jobs, junior level HR placement consultants, religious leaders, politicians, and activists, unless you know them personally, after all it is professional network.


3 mins to check updates by your connections and 2 minutes to share something interesting


Scroll through the updates. Like what you like and share by which you are impressed. Don’t like or share for the sake of doing. It will dilute your professional brand image.


5 mins to explore and send connection requests


Check the section, people you may know. Identify good people you would like to connect, open their profile and send connection requests to maximum 3 professional in one day. Do not send too many requests in a day. Never send connection request without opening his / her profile. It looks very irresponsible. Sharing math problem and quotes ane just out of date. Explore the groups suggested by linkedin and, become member of relevant groups.

Keep checking your competitors’ profiles and be ahead of them in number of connections, shares and profile views.



Don’t spend more than 15 minutes a day. If you get hooked up, you will waste your time. Don’t access linked in on Saturdays and Sundays, even if your smartphone screams about notifications, refrain.

Don’t boast about your products and services on your personal page. Promotional offers and product features, are strict NO NO. 



For that matter create your company page and make it sales / marketing oriented. Post the promotional offers or product USPs over there lavishly.


Now, its time to appraise, how you are doing on linked in. Check how you rank on profile views among your connections, ideally you should be in top 25%. Another yardstick to appraise yourself is, number of connections added per month. 25 – 50 new connections per month is good enough.


I will continue to give Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest tips in next post.

Discrimination for Good. Leaders are ruthlessly Privileged

Watching any ancient war epic, makes me note that Leaders are ruthlessly Privileged. Could be Baahubali, Troy, Alexander, Gladiator, the list is endless.War is played by Generals (read leaders) and Soldiers (read followers). Generals / Kings are the most privileged. They have horses, elephants, chariots, leather / metal armors, multiple weapons and what not. Soldiers are least privileged, on feet, one weapon and vulnerable. Why?


The answer is found in theories of resource management. Give right resource to right user. Generals / Kings lead and take responsibilities. They are better trained and know better use of resources. It is never affordable to give all resources, equally to generals as well as soldiers. Just imagine, everyone wants all resources whether they need (can use) them or not. The war is lost on the day one, as resources are always scarce.


When I see Google Business, MS 365, or similar type of email hosting services, I feel the same. They have host of features, emails, calendars, anywhere access, multi-device active sync, storage drives, document management, proactive antispam systems etc. They charge per users per month / year. Here, this user could be a general or a soldier. 

Everyone gets everything, resulting in a big cost, that too recurring, forever till your enterprise exists.



Let us take an example.


You are an SME with 10 to 100 email users. By my experience, you would agree that you will have 10 percent of your team as in general’s role and rest as soldiers. Say, 1 to 10 Generals (senior employees) you know and can use all above host of features. Rest, say 9 to 90 soldiers just use email communication utility.


I have an interesting observation. Read carefully.


90 percent of SME owners (generals) find these services expensive, not because per user cost is high, but because most of their users don’t need it. Painfully, they (generals) also abstain themselves from using those full featured services as they (generals) don’t want to buy for everyone (soldiers).


10 percent of SME owners (generals) buy those services for all users with a conscious realization that they are overspending on all features for everyone (soldiers) who are never going to need them. But they overspend because they (generals) themselves need those features for their own work. Cumulative yearly cost of their account goes very high.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Can we design an ideal email system which can have an on demand availability of the features?



Say, senior management or traveling users (general) needs all features and everyone else need a good no-frills kind of email system.


Now let’s go back to the same example. A typical SME having 10-100 email users will pay only for 1-10 fully featured email ids (read Generals), and for rest of users (soldiers) will pay insignificant cost of a plain vanilla email system.


Generals will be better equipped and soldiers will be appropriately equipped, and that too at 20 percent of the recurring cost,


Sounds mouth watering? Yes, it can be done.


It can easily be done by a qualified IT person. The key to do it is separating and distributing email ids on fully featured host and a plain vanilla host based on roles (Generals and Soldiers). Intelligent use of aliasing and sub domain based MX records in DNS zone files will make it possible.


I hope this makes sense.


So, Generals, don’t deprive yourselves from a fully featured email systems, use my idea and be privileged for all good reasons. And of course, save cost by appropriately equipping your soldiers.


Transform your email system to “on demand” and “role based” email system, say, it discriminates between Generals and Soldiers for all good reasons.

Our innovation BLACKBOX is the first of its kind to have such “on demand” and “role based” email system, say, it discriminates between Generals and Soldiers for all good reasons.

Shut Up Kitty, Says Karamchand; Decoding Email Frauds

1985 to 1989, in my teen age memories, Karamchand and Kitty are indelible. The Karamchand effect was evident, each conversation with my sister started with a carrot bite and ended with a “Shut Up Kitty”. Today, I feel like “the Karamchand” for SMEs, writing about decoding the email frauds.

In last three years, menace of email frauds has left SMEs completely unguarded. I hope to decode it for my wonderful SME laymen entrepreneurs.



Judwaa (Twin or Look alike) Style Email Fraud


On silver screen, it has almost caught every great film maker’s imagination. Be it Adaptation (Nicholas Cage), Parent Trap (Linsay Lohan), Bow Finger (Eddie Murphy), Double Impact (Van Damme), Man in the Iron Mask (Leonardo DiCarpio) or be it Don (Amitabh Bachhan), Angoor (Sanjiv Kumar), Chaalbaz (Sridevi).


Here, the fraudsters steal your identity. They somehow gain control on your email communication and deal with your parties as if you are dealing. They send emails on your behalf, reply emails on your behalf. You come to know about it only when your customers follows up for the consignment for which they have paid to you and you have not received it.

They could be your existing employee, ex-employee, competitor or a professional hacker.

They can advise your customers to deposit payment in fake accounts, or they can send deal-breaker quotations / terms to your prospects faking as you only, or they can attend your inquiries by giving competitive proposals. All that the customer or prospect will think is, It’s you. They can even give irresponsible answers to your customers or prospects, who will never return to you.

How can someone steal your identity and gain control over your email id?

 

The “God Father” way – By Betrayal



A displeased employee, or an ex-employee who knows the passwords of email system may share it with capable competitors who can exploit the access of your email systems. Or one can set auto forwarding of your emails on third party. Or one can keep sending sensitive information by email using personal or corporate email id. Or one might keep sending Blind Carbon Copy of important information / data to exploiters.


Precautions

  1. Check all your emails settings on email host, if any auto forwarding is set or not.
  2. Keep practice of changing passwords every week with minimum 8 character, with at least one capital, one numeric, one symbol
  3. Configure your corporate email system such that one copy of every email exchange by employees is received by superior
  4. Do not allow access to personal email ids with exposed organization’s data
  5. Configure your email system such that Blind Carbon Copy can be monitored / controlled / prohibited


The “Troy” way – By Infiltration



The exploiter sends you an email with plant. This plant in the attachment gets installed on your computer and your key strokes are sent by the plant to the exploiter who would know your email password and exploit it.


Precautions

  1. Have antivirus in every computer
  2. Do not open unknown attachments
  3. Do not access your emails from public computers like cybercafe
  4. Always keep parental control on in your browser


The “Face off” way – By Identity Swapping



The exploiter send you an email with swapped identity. E.g. you have stored my name as Vishal Shah vishal@synersoft.iniin your address book. Most of us have kept automatic saving of new address in address book. When we compose new email, we normally write first 2-3 characters of name of the person and email interface shows you email ids which you may select. Now, let’s say you receive an email from Vishal Shah vishal@exploiter.in, auto saving option of address book will save it also. Now when you compose email to me, you may type vishal and promptly it will suggest vishal@exploiter.inand you may select it. And the fraud starts. In your sent items, it will show as Vishal Shah only unless you dig into email id.


Precautions

  1. check thoroughly the email id suggestions displayed by your email interface
  2. If it displays irrelevant email id also, immediately delete that entry from address book


The “Robot” Way – by Creating Clone



The exploiter may register a domain which looks same as yours. e.g. if your email id is on bhavaniindia.com, they might register bhavanindia.com or they might register bhavaniindia.in or bhavanindia.co.in and start communicating with your customers. And the fraud starts.


Precautions

  1. Periodically send emails to your customers about your bank account details and email id written in larger fonts. e.g. b h a v a n i i n d i a . c o m to verify their records
  2. If budget permits, take all possible extensions of your domain name.


The “Taken in Broad Daylight” Way – by intercepting your passwords



Exploiter may intercept your data exchange on Internet and get your passwords you submitted to your web hosting server.


Precautions

  1. Check if your email host is on SSL encryption or not
  2. Do not use your enterprise emails on public wi-fi
  3. If budget permits, keep dual password systems for users

 

A small step of caution will prevent fraud and save you from financial loss or competitive exploit.

The BLACKbox, innovation by Synersoft Technologies, takes care of most of the Email Fraud Prevention Practices.