Every company wants to recruit the best talent. One way they can find this talent is through job descriptions. This strategy can work, but only if you update your job descriptions to capture the attention of diverse candidates. Many companies simply recycle the same old job descriptions. Though their company culture may have changed over the years, their job descriptions may not reflect this. As a result, companies may miss out on recruiting diverse talent.
The language you use can either attract or repel job candidates. This is why crafting inclusive job descriptions is critical to your hiring strategy, says Victoria Hortman, the global people operations manager at Mogul.
If you’re hoping to attract the best and brightest to your team, keep reading. We’re sharing Hortman’s best practices for writing more inclusive job descriptions in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.
Stay neutral. This means steering clear of gendered words and cultural slang. Hortman recommends using “you” instead of “he” or “she” to speak directly to all candidates. It’s also wise to avoid any cultural slang like “guru” or “wizard,” which may not resonate with diverse applicants. Instead, be clear with your titles and use terms like “sales manager” or “sales rep.”
Be flexible. You can attract more diverse job candidates by staying flexible with your requirements. For example, if your sales reps don’t necessarily need a college degree, don’t list it as a requirement. You can still prefer that candidates have a degree, but don’t include it in the written listing. If your job description includes a laundry list of requirements, you may scare away top candidates with untraditional backgrounds, Hortman notes.
Emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). A job description is an ideal place to point out that your company values DEI. Whether you have an equal-pay policy, a mentorship program for underrepresented groups or other offerings, include details in your job description. This can help attract a more diverse pool of applicants.
Stay mindful of age and ability. Hortman points out that 35 percent of workers were born before the internet existed. These experienced job candidates may not be interested in roles that mention “digital natives” or “young talent.” Hortman says the same is true for candidates with different abilities. If you need your employees to help with trade show set up and teardown, don’t include phrases like, “must walk, stand, and lift 50 pounds.” Instead, try more inclusive phrasing such as “must move, be upright and hold up to 50 pounds.”
Share salary ranges. Another way to be more inclusive in your job descriptions is to be upfront with the salary range. If you don’t list this critical information, you may miss out on highly qualified talent. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time by completing an interview and then finding out the candidate needs $20,000 more than you have in your budget, Hortman says. Plus, listing a salary range can help you stand out from other employers. Only about half of companies mention salary, she adds.
This month, consider revisiting your job descriptions. Do they use outdated language or make people guess at salary ranges? You may be inadvertently turning off some candidates. By using more neutral words, emphasizing your company’s commitment to DEI, and being open about your budget, you can expand your talent pool and attract more diverse candidates.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Victoria Hortman is the global people operations manager at Mogul, a talent acquisition platform.
Used with permission from PPAI Media
While the hiring process can be agonizing, it’s the only way an organization can grow, stay true to its soul, and remain consistently successful.
“We have great people here – but you have a different level on your team. Everyone truly cares about our success.”
This was said to me recently with respect to the team we have built at PromoCorner and, to be candid, it was one of the most meaningful compliments I’ve received. It’s especially significant when the process of finding talented team members is almost as stressful as trying to figure out what to order off the massive menu at The Cheesecake Factory before the waiter comes back for a fifth time….almost.
Hiring is one of the most difficult aspects of management and almost every single executive I know loathes the process: the uninspired resumes, the unqualified applicants, the lackluster interviews that end before they’ve really begun, and the clearly canned answers to interview questions are just a few that come to mind. It’s a process that is painful at best and, at worst, can cripple an organization for years – both financially and culturally.
It’s that simple, and it’s that hard.
Just like in any industry, the competition to hire the most talented, capable, and forward-thinking people is onerous in the world of promotional products and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The people who work in day-to-day customer-facing positions have far more impact on whether an organization succeeds than any new product or decoration method.
In the team sport of consistently creating surprise and delight for clients, each team member must possess five core emotional skills:
1. Integrity – this is the foundation of any successful employee/employer relationship and where the intrinsic inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and exceptional judgement must be present
2. Optimistic Compassion – does the candidate display genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full?
3. Curiosity – this is far different than simple intelligence and where the candidate demonstrates an insatiable desire to learn for the sake of learning.
4. Work Ethic – will the candidate consistently complete assignments as well as it can possibly be done and embrace the grind that goes along with it?
5. Empathy – candidates must be aware of what the clients experience, but also how one’s own behavior in the office impacts others.
Why is it important to focus on the emotional skills of every applicant rather than the technical skills of doing the actual job? When you look at the five core emotional skills necessary to create an outstanding team, the overarching theme is, “care.” Over time, almost every technical aspect of a job can be taught: how to write an order, correctly using the CRM, how the decoration is applied to a product, etc. Care, however, can’t be taught: people either do or they don’t.
Building an exceptional team – one that has the core emotional skills that enables them to engage clients in ways that establish trust and loyalty – is critical to the long-term success of any organization. The true key is creating that team where the client base can identify a sense of cohesion in the way they feel and experience their overall purchasing journey with your business. The only way to accomplish this is to focus on the emotional skills of applicants, not the technical ones.
Bill is president of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing service provider to the promotional products industry, and has over 17 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, immediate past president of the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), vice president of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, and developing branding that resonates with a target audience. He can be reached at bill@PromoCorner.com.
As a leader, you want your team members to continue honing their strengths and learning new skills. When you invest in your staff, you not only help them do their jobs better, but you also help them reach their full potential. Professional development may sound like a costly undertaking, but there are many ways you can help your employees grow without the deep pockets of a major corporation, according to Bonnie Monych, a performance specialist for Insperity.
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share some of Monych’s best practices that will help your team learn and grow — and without requiring a huge budget.
Launch or refresh a company mentoring program. Mentoring allows you to tap into your team’s biggest strengths. Monych suggests pairing employees who are experts in a certain area with others who need to improve in that area. And remember that successful mentorships can go up or down the organizational ladder, she says. Different generations have useful insight to share with each other.
Explore industry offerings. PPAI offers more than 200 new education sessions annually. You can also read industry publications and blogs. Much of it is free or easily accessible, Monych says. This can help your team stay current on relevant topics within the industry.
Create a book club. Choose a business book and invite your team to read it and discuss it together. Monych says this is a fun way for employees to share ideas and feedback while getting to know their colleagues a bit better. Think about the topics that would most benefit your team, whether it’s learning more about emotional intelligence or how to better manage their time.
Recruit an outside expert. Is someone in your professional network an expert at negotiating? Or maybe you know someone who is especially skilled at project management. Invite these professionals to speak to your team. Monych says it’s a win-win because you flatter your professional contact and your team members learn something new.
Host a lunch-and-learn. Treat your employees to lunch and an interesting lesson on a topic that’s relevant to your team’s needs. Lunch-and-learns can work in person or remotely. Employees tend to enjoy these offerings because they’re short and help them make smart use of their time.
Forgo formal learning. Remember that you can boost your team’s skills in bite-size pieces. You don’t need to hire a professional speaker for a full-day event. On YouTube, you can watch TED Talks on nearly any topics. You can also send your team members a link to recommended podcasts.
The days of all-day seminars and sleepy PowerPoint slides are gone, Monych says. Instead, look for easily accessible ways to teach your team new skills or introduce them to new ideas. From book clubs to lunch-and-learns, professional development can take all kinds of forms. Follow some of the best practices above and you can help your team grow in an affordable, effective way.
Source: Bonnie Monych is a performance specialist for Insperity. She has more than 25 years of experience in leadership development, coaching and mentoring.
Are you and your job in the promotional products industry going through a tough time? Maybe you’ve contemplated switching companies or joining the Great Resignation, but something’s still valuable to you right where you are.
Or maybe you’ve considered changing industries completely—but you know you’d miss the branded merchandise field.
How can you fall back in love with your work again so you can create the career and life you want? What can you do to get unstuck and start feeling in control once more, no matter what’s happening in your business or in the world?
Here are three strategies you can use today to reclaim control of your work life. Try them out and begin to reset, revise, and even rescue your career in promo—right where you are, just as you are.
Strategy 1: Get Clear About What Your Work Is—And Isn’t
Has your job expanded in ways that are no longer working for you? Now, two years after the start of the pandemic, many of my private coaching clients are finding that their ways of working during the initial days of crisis have now solidified, adding more time and effort into their day.
It’s a perfect time to take an inventory of all the things you do each day and week at work. Document it all, even the items that seem small or easy. Chances are the list may surprise you.
It’s not uncommon for responsibilities and expectations to sneak into your day-to-day to-dos, whether intentionally or not. Getting clear on what your job has become can help you get clearer on how to make small but powerful changes that make it better, faster.
Strategy 2: Drop Some Balls.
Take a hard look at your inventory of work from Strategy 1 above. Which elements don’t use your best skills or talents? What may have been relevant during the early days of the pandemic, but aren’t as essential now? What work feels like a waste of time, energy, or resources? Which do you consistently procrastinate and struggle through?
Right now, you’re juggling all of those balls. Consider dropping one—or many.
Yes, this feels counterintuitive to many of us who feel like we’re never juggling our work and life as well as we could be. But human beings are not computers. We can’t add bandwidth to create more capacity. In fact, by rightsizing our bandwidth and dropping work that no longer matters, we actually become more focused, productive, and valuable—as well as less burnt-out and unhappy.
How can you drop any of the balls you’ve been so carefully managing? Start experimenting with one small item that you dread doing. Maybe it’s a meeting you attend, report you prepare, or other routine process. For the next two weeks, drop it. Don’t tell anyone and wait to see if anyone notices—or cares. If they do, propose an experiment where the work gets done differently. In my work with my coaching clients, we’ve often found 20-30% of their day-to-day tasks can be streamlined or eliminated completely, with no or low consequences.
Strategy 3:Find Your TA-DAs.
When we’re not feeling great about work, we often overlook all the good we’re doing and all of the success we’re actually having. We clearly see all the things that are undone or imperfect.
But that’s exactly the time when you need to find your TA-DAs.
You’ve seen a TA-DA. It’s that move where we toss up our arms in a celebratory V, throw back our shoulders and pause, for a moment, basking in the energy of what we’ve just accomplished. TA-DAs are typically the sole province of Olympians, circus folk and toddlers proudly waddling, arms up, toward their parents. Those brave souls don’t have to be perfect to have their TA-DA—why should you?
Ask yourself: What do I do well? What do I appreciate about myself? What good things do my clients, customers and colleagues say about me? What am I doing that’s making a difference to someone, somewhere? Remember that the products you deliver, whether you’re at a supplier or working as a distributor, could be really meaningful to their end user.
Throw your hands up, sing out TA-DA, and take a bow. If you’re ready to fall back in love with your job, your TA-DAs can remind you’re doing more good work than you think, and are more successful than you know.
Darcy Eikenberg is a career coach for leaders and speaker on leadership and career success. Her latest book, Red Cape Rescue: Save Your Career Without Leaving Your Job, goes deeper into how we can take back control in our lives at work and prepare for the future with courage and confidence. Download a free chapter and get other career-enhancing tools at RedCapeRevolution.com.
Today’s young people have grown up through interesting times. The uncertainty and changes that the pandemic has created for students and their parents has been dramatic and, in many cases, caused real hardship. Pay cuts, lost jobs and remote work for their parents coupled with a lack of social interaction, school closures and a shortage of in person school events has created an unprecedented environment to grow up in.
The SAAC Foundation is eager to help and has a 100% focus on helping our member families send their kids to college or an accredited trade school. In 2021, amid the pandemic, we were able to fund 7-scholarships totaling almost $20,000. We want to assist “Our kids” with the financial help they need to brighten their futures through further education.
Through various fundraising efforts, our annual golf tournament and the generosity of individuals we are helping to educate our extended SAAC family and their children. WE WANT TO INCREASE OUR GIVING, but the only way is if YOU HELP.
Perhaps the most meaningful way is to endow a named scholarship. A gift of $7,500 will allow you to honor, recognize or remember someone important to you or your company while creating a living legacy in a young person. These endowed gifts can be focused on certain criteria as well to reenforce ones’ giving philosophy and goal; perhaps a scholarship for a young woman pursuing a business degree, a gift for a first-generation college students or criteria specifying maximum income to help those most in need.
The Foundation for SAAC has one purpose as the giving arm of SAAC, supporting our member families through scholarships. This industry has blessed many of us over the years and as supporters of your family over the years, we ask you, as individuals, distributorships and supplier to support our efforts in financing dreams.
SAAC is an institution in its eighth decade of service to our industry. Whether the dinners, the education events, the SAAC show, the golf tournament or one of the lunch arounds, so many of us have participated and benefited from the nation’s leading regional. Let’s repay just a little of what has been offered to us over the years.
We all depend on orders. Now we are asking for the order. Help us help our families in need and help kids achieve their goals. Give back a bit of what this business has given you and pay it forward. We need your donations to make sure the SAAC Foundation continues to give and support those closest to us.
To donate, create an endowed scholarship or if you have questions about the application process, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Foundation@saac.net or to Angela Taylor at email@example.com 267-780-9617
Tom Levin, Western Sales Director
Hit Promotional Products
Charitable giving is expected to remain a business priority at most companies in 2022, with some even growing their contributions from previous years. Corporate giving has been on the rise for the past two years and according to a survey by The Conference Board, and that momentum will extend into this year, as 94% of major U.S. corporations plan to maintain or increase their charitable giving in 2022.
The increase in corporate giving is attributed to companies’ efforts to address COVID-19 and advance racial equity. However, the ramp-up also comes with challenges: 53% of the corporate citizenship executives surveyed said their departments’ lack of resources—not just money but also time and staff— pose the biggest challenge to reaching their goals.
Despite the economic headwinds in the first year of the pandemic, over 60% of companies donated more in 2020 than they had budgeted. In 2021, 97% donated the same or more than they had budgeted for the year. The new survey shows that 94% of respondents expect their corporate citizenship financial contribution budgets for 2022 to be the same or greater than their actual 2021 spending.
In 2021, a majority of companies maintained or increased their giving to nonprofit partners addressing social issues associated with the pandemic. The Conference Board survey found that 60% of respondents’ contributions to nonprofits to address COVID-19 were about the same or greater than in 2020. An even higher percentage of companies maintained or increased their funding to address racial equity, with 85% of respondents contributing about the same or more to address racial equity in 2021 as they had in 2020.
The Conference Board’s data shows that 92% of companies have made racial equity a strategic priority. In turn, a clear majority (88%) are not only increasing their donations but also evaluating the design and delivery of their broader corporate citizenship efforts through a racial equity lens.
A lack of resources is the top obstacle to achieving firms’ corporate citizenship goals, however. Fifty-three percent of respondents cite lack of time, money and staff as their biggest obstacle to achieving their goals in 2022.
“More than half of the corporate citizenship executives surveyed said the biggest obstacle to achieving their goals in 2022 is a lack of resources,” says Paul Washington, executive director of The Conference Board ESG Center. “Successfully advancing their agendas, however, does not necessarily mean simply adding more staff to corporate citizenship departments, but also harnessing broader resources across the organization, focusing on increased efficiency, and developing partnerships with other companies to maximize impact.”
Achieving Ice Breaker Excellence
How will you stimulate their interest?2/15/2022 | Joel Schaffer, MAS, The Take Away
I opened the business section of the NYT (2-13-22) and there was a headline for the story…
“Desperately Seeking Ice Breakers”
Seems this person was asking for rock solid ice breakers as he or she had a new job and was working
from home and using the phone to generate business with HR managers.
This is a perfect question to ask in our industry. What is a great icebreaker? So, for a change, just maybe
you will post something after reading this and share your thoughts. Don’t worry, there are millions of
businesses and I doubt your words will come back to haunt you through a competitor.
As I said, there is no such thing as AN/ONE elevator speech. In that we do so much for so many different
parts of the private and public sector world, one pitch will not do it in the elevator or as an ice breaker.
No question, cold call or warm call, the phone is the gateway to sales growth. Getting to speak to the
contact is easier than knocking on doors, but there are still obstacles in the way and gatekeepers.
I did 15 years of interactive telephone workshops (PPAI may still have a recorded version). They are
aged, but not irrelevant. Upon the prospect picking up the phone, you have no more that 10-15 seconds
to get that person to continue the call and gain their interest. So, whatever you do, whatever I write, the
only way for you to achieve ice breaker excellence is to write It, or them, down, memorize the content
and then practice, practice, practice. Added to that is the what if section of your personal ice breaker
training. I had the top 10 what ifs in my seminars. Like… what if you are told I already have a vendor.
What if someone says “I don’t need any”. What if someone says, “My cousin is in the business”. What if
they say it is not my job?
Before any call, you need to think about your objective. That’s simple - to get an appointment, a certain
follow up call date, or get a referral. Second level success is when a customer says send me an email, a
catalog, etc. etc.
The first words out of your mouth are called the overture. It is like the overture at a musical. It reveals a
bit of what is ahead, if you listen to the performance. In that overture, you have to do a lot, a real lot.
One – You have to introduce yourself and company with a smile in your talk and in a warm and friendly
way. You must put forward a value proposition that will stimulate the prospect’s interest in continuing
the conversation. You know how quickly you tune out to telemarketers. There is no one value
proposition either. It will be different for sales managers, HR managers, safety directors, etc.
Beware…never articulate any products you are selling. This is not good. It opens up rejection and paints
an image of you immediately as a merchant of stuff.
Two – From your value proposition, you should present a deliverable and, as best you can, why you
believe you can deliver on what you said.
Three – You do need to subtly patronize the prospect because a bit of flattery will increase your chances
Four – You need to create open ended questions that draw the prospect in within a brief period of time.
My favorite is a flattering line build on a supposition. Bill, while we have never met, I am certain you are
the type of businessperson who is focused on increasing sales and, most of all, profits. You will get buy
in. This statement, guised as a question, is the conversation opener. With his or her agreement, your
value statement and possible deliverable follows. Here’s another… Bill, what if I can lower your
experiential factor by 15-20%, would you like to take a brief look at how we can lower your accident
Sally, everything I read tells me the nightmare HR is having in employee retention and hiring. How can
we help you improve this area and make your department a shining star?
My column is called The Take Away… I think you can take away a lot of reinforcement and
recommendations but , this time, how about adding your best icebreaker and becoming a mentor to
Joel D. Schaffer, MAS is CEO and Founder of Soundline, LLC, the pioneering supplier to the promotional products industry of audio products. Joel has 48 years of promotional product industry experience and proudly heralds “I was a distributor.” He has been on the advisory panel of the business and marketing department of St. John’s University in New York and is a frequent speaker at Rutgers Graduate School of Business. He is an industry Advocate and has appeared before the American Bankers Association, American Marketing Association, National Premium Sales Executives, American Booksellers Association and several other major groups. He has been a management consultant to organizations such as The College Board and helped many suppliers enter this industry. He is a frequent contributor to PPB and Counselor magazines. He has facilitated over 200 classes sharing his industry knowledge nationwide. He is known for his cutting humor and enthusiasm in presenting provocative and motivating programs. He is the only person to have received both the Marvin Spike Industry Lifetime Achievement Award (2002) and PPAI’s Distinguished Service Award (2011). He is a past director of PPAI and has chaired several PPAI committees and task forces. He is a past Chair of the SAAGNY Foundation, Past President of SAAGNY and a SAAGNY Hall of Fame member. He was cited by ASI as one of the 50 most influential people in the industry.
Used with permission from PromoCorner
You’re driving down the road still hours from your destination and famished. Being that you’re in a small, rural area, you decide to pull off and ask someone what food they might recommend for a road-weary traveler. The person appears to be local and, from what you can gather, trustworthy. You exchange pleasantries then express to the local that you would like to find a quick, healthy meal to sustain you on your journey. After a brief pause, the local excitedly suggests that the Exxon station across the two-lane highway just started carrying sushi and that, “it’s fantastic – I promise!”
The moment of truth arrives – do you trust the local who is extolling the greatness of gas station sushi, or do you snag a small bag of Cool Ranch Dorito’s and a bottle of water? The fact is most wouldn’t trust sushi bought from a gas station – it just doesn’t sound appetizing no matter who tells you how wonderful it tastes.
Many promotional products professionals have prospects that continually ask for – or, even worse, demand – new ideas but never seem to buy. When probed, the prospect will generally explain that the “timing isn’t right” or that they “went in a different direction.” Often they will dangle the carrot of “next time,” and, all too often, salespeople cling to that promise only to have the situation repeat itself again and again.
You wouldn’t trust sushi from a gas station, so why would you trust a prospect that has a history of squeezing you for ideas but never makes a purchase?
When the promise is always better than reality, it’s time to find a different prospect.
Bill Petrie has over 22 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products companies, always working collaboratively to achieve the “wow” desired by the target audience.
A Managing Partner at brandivate, a full-service marketing services and advertising agency, Bill is featured speaker at numerous national and international events, a serial creator of content marketing, and co-host of the industry-leading podcast, Promo UPFront. Bill has extensive experience defining brand strategy, creating successful marketing campaigns, creating and developing winning RFP responses, and presenting winning promotional products solutions to Fortune 500 clients.
A True Gentleman & A Mentor – Remembering Dennis Phillips
By Rick Greene, MAS
SAAC suffered another gut-punch as we’ve lost another organization-defining leader, past-President and Honorary Life Member. We’ve lost Dennis Phillips.
Dennis, who was one of those larger-than-life personalities that – once you met him, you could not forget him – passed away on February, 10, 2022 from complications from Alzheimer’s. He was a beloved promotional-products professional who was part of the Jack Nadel organization for decades. Indeed, he was one of organization’s leaders who helped steer JNI’s success and made it a cutting edge destination for dozens and dozens of young distributor sales talent for whom he was a mentor.
Mentor. That is one of the words that you saw in the HUNDREDS of comments on the Facebook thread that announced his passing. Mentor… Nice… So Funny… A Class Act… A Great Guy… A True Gentleman. These are some of the descriptive phrases that were used again and again on FB. All of them true. All of them Dennis.
“This one hurts,” Tommy Levin, Western Sales Director of Hit told me. “He was very kind to and loved by young people in the promotional products business. He ran our SAAC Golf Tournament for many years, he was the man! Nobody was more fun at a cocktail party! He was a great conversationalist and so fun. He loved his Jameson. He had strong opinions and he voiced them. He had a voice I still can hear. A SAAC loyalist, a SAAC old-timer, a Life Member… yes, all of those things. He was mad about his Nancy. She was his catch.”
That catch, Nancy Phillips, told me, “He was so passionate about SAAC!” I saw that first-hand many, many times.
“A true gentleman, sarcastic in the best of ways and a mentor to so, so many,” remembered multi-line rep Todd Turquand.
Dennis was President of SAAC in 2002. Fifteen years later, he was accorded our ultimate honor – Honorary Life Member. When I joined the SAAC Board of Directors in 2005, Dennis was still there, serving out a board term when someone left early. He was there because we needed him. He was always there when we needed him. When I was President of SAAC and ran our 2009 show in Long Beach, Dennis was there because I needed him. Of course, that was his wife Nancy’s first show as our Executive Director… that might have had something to do with it.
Which brings me to Nancy. Dennis and Nancy. Together for just over twenty years, a love story for the ages. Whenever Nancy spoke of Dennis, she lit up like a schoolgirl. He was her man and they were madly in love each and every day of their lives. Dennis was a terrific step-Dad to Tim and Becca. They were a family full of love, of laughter, of respect for each other.
Of course, Dennis was so much more than a promotional products sales person and teacher, than a SAAC Past President. He was a proud veteran, a member of the Air Force and a Viet Nam vet. He loved golf and he loved Jameson whiskey! He was the perfect guy to sit at the bar with and swap stories. He was a fierce friend and did not suffer fools gladly. He told you what he thought… exactly what he thought.
But, for hundreds of people who worked at JNI or volunteered on the SAAC Board, he was a rock, a mentor, a leader, a man’s man and Nancy’s man. He was freakin’ hilarious and someone you could depend on to keep his word. He displayed what Hemmingway called ‘grace under pressure.’ He touched hundreds of lives and will not be forgotten. Not ever. No way. Not Dennis Phillips.
In lieu of flowers, please direct a donation in Dennis’ memory to the Gold Coast Veterans Association at www.gcvf.org. A celebration of life is planned for later in the year.
PHOTOS: Dennis & Nancy in 2016 and Dennis Clowns at the 2014 SAAC Installation Dinner.
December 30, 2021
Cybersecurity is an ever-important and ever-evolving conversation. As technology gets more advanced and integrated into our daily lives, hackers get more clever at finding ways to access your accounts to gain important personal and business-related information.
When we last discussed cybersecurity, we talked about a couple of the more common ways your information might be stolen, like phishing emails, USB drives inserted into a hotel’s computer in the business center that’s infected or opening an attachment from an unknown source.
I asked our Vice President of IT, Brian Prichard, for some handy tips and tricks on protecting yourself from these types of attacks.
It’s not just big businesses like the Colonial Pipeline getting attacked and their systems being held for ransom – small businesses are just as likely to get attacked by hackers as well. The best way to protect your business is through education. Ensure that your team members know not to click on any suspicious links, that they know who attachments are coming from, and to not download anything not authorized by your IT department. One way to make sure everyone in your organization stays vigilant is to implement quarterly training with your IT department or invite an expert to speak to your team each year.
Make sure your software is up-to-date and current with the latest security patches. Companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung continuously research and look into potential security risks within their software. They will then send out updates with “patches” or fixes for those risks. Keeping your computer up-to-date (yes, even when the popup happens at the most inopportune time) will make sure that your computer has the best protection.
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is an added layer of security to make sure that your account stays as safe as possible – and only those authorized to gain access can do so. We recently updated SAGE Mobile to include 2FA, and once you enter your email and password, you’ll receive a code delivered only to you by either email or text message to log in.
Just like you have a plan in place for a fire or tornado at your business, it’s crucial to have an incident response plan in place in case you or a team member accidentally opens a suspicious link or downloads an attachment they shouldn’t have. Make sure that everyone in the office knows how to handle this situation so they don’t panic if that does happen. Have them shut down their computer immediately and call tech support – they will know the best way to deal with this sort of situation.
This one isn’t necessarily tied into ransomware but is important nonetheless! Hackers have been known to hack into computers and spy on people using their webcams to gain the information they want. Like the one below, a webcam cover is a great tool to keep your privacy safe. Webcam covers have a sliding plate so you can still access the camera if you have a video conference – and, like the ones below, you can even put your logo on them!
This branded webcam cover is great to keep your staff, your customers, and you safe! Find it in SAGE Online with the Item Number #SG-RZR-ST
Perform routine backups of your data on an external server or hard drive as a safety net in case your computer or network is hacked. If infected, ransomware will shut down access to your computer and important software, and the hackers that took over your system will then demand a ransom that you must pay to get back access to your information. Backing up your data provides not only a way for you to gain access to your files in the event your access is maliciously limited but also is good practice in case you accidentally douse your laptop with a large quantity of Dr. Pepper (I say this from experience after losing a semester’s worth of projects in college)…
The best protection against this sort of thing is being vigilant. Don’t click on anything; if you’re not sure if an email is real – ask for a second opinion! If you’re not expecting an attachment to be sent with an email, ask the sender if they sent one before you open it. And most importantly, stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the cybersecurity world so you can stay ahead of the curve.
For more information about protecting your business and yourself on the internet, check out this guide by the FBI on ransomware attacks.
Used with permission from SAGE
Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC)
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