Point. Click. Profit. (As published in The Business Journal)

8 Top Tech Taboos, Part 1

Use Strong Passwords

I write regularly about creative ideas for successful digital marketing or how to make sense of the latest available interactive tools. But I try to always tie it back to business strategy, because technology for its own sake is just play. Business success requires strategic, skillful application of technology.

Over-reliance on Email

While email is a vital communication tool, it’s not the hammer for every nail. Sometimes, when replying to a thorny issue finds you piling paragraph on paragraph to preemptively address further questions and objections. It would be cleared up much more quickly with a phone call.

You’ll have the benefit of listening for audible cues in the conversation as to which issues need to be explored further and which are less important. Most crucially, you’re staving off what could turn into a volley of notes that could – without the benefit of other tonal cues – turn into a misunderstanding where there wasn’t one to begin with.

That said, do follow up on verbal agreements with an email summary, to ensure both parties have documented reference for future review.

One Password Fits All

If you’re using the same email/password or username/password combination for multiple important accounts, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Scammers are less likely to hack into an account by guessing a password than they are to take credentials from one compromised system and try them out on multiple services.

So, if one account list is compromised – as has happened recently to Sony and Google – stolen credentials there will be tried on Facebook, Twitter, Bank of America, and anywhere else where scammers think they can leverage a stolen identity to access financial information.

Your best bet is to create a passphrase that you can remember for each account, and then complicate it with numbers and symbols. Use a password manager to store them all for reference. Here’s an example from a Microsoft tip:

Relate your password or passphrase to a favorite hobby or sport. For example, I love to play badminton could become ILuv2PlayB@dm1nt()n.

Carbon Copying the Neighborhood

If I ever need the email address of someone in the Mahoning Valley, even someone I don’t know, I can usually just search for their name or company in my email and come up with it. This is because I get emails about community events, fundraisers, and the like where my name is on a TO or CC list with a hundred other emails.

Apart from the privacy issue, what happens when someone takes objection with your cause or replies with, “Sorry, I can’t make it.” All the people whose good graces you’re counting on for your event are now dealing with unwanted traffic and henceforth just want to ignore any emails about the topic.

My rule of thumb: if I’m emailing more than 5-6 people, and unless they’re all working on a project with me, I’ll put them in the BCC list, so any replies are seen only by me, and the recipients know I respect them enough to mask their contact information.

Prolix PowerPoint Presentations

Keep it short and simple. If a single number on the slide makes your point, let it. A visual presentation works best as a soundtrack complementing a film. Your presentation would be flat without the visuals, but the focus should be on you and what you’re saying. A list of bullets on the screen behind you can be a distraction, if there’s any measurable reading to be done.

Use pictures, numbers and charts to set the mood. Use your words to drive it home.

Strive for a uniform look and feel to the visuals, from start to finish. Too many changes to color or font look amateurish.

Limit animation. Rather than trying to layer bullet after bullet, just let the previous slide make way for the next one. Clean and simple.

Negative space is golden. Let no item be superfluous. Think of the best, minimalist billboards you’ve seen and try to capture that eloquence on your screen for your audience.

(View Part 2 here!)

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