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3 Ways to Reach Inbox Zero

email globeI envy people that talk about “Inbox Zero“. The event that happens when you have read or disposed of all of your email. My problem is trying to keep my email manageable enough to reach “Inbox 250″.

Reading, writing and disposing of email takes up about 28% of the average office worker’s day. For people in service industries and sales, the number is probably much higher, and the need to handle email efficiently and in a manner that allows us to find and review important correspondence is crucial. All of us seem to have signed up for email lists that send us things we just don’t need to clutter our days with, so we need to find some way to organize our inbox in a rational and efficient manner. Thankfully with the deluge of email comes an avalanche of apps to help you handle the email more efficiently (ok, so maybe its not enough to be called an avalanche, but it sounded better in my head :)

None of us read terms when we install new platforms or sign up for information we want online and we end up with an awful lot of email subscriptions that we didn’t know we were participants in. Here are some great tools to handle your subscription woes and organize your inbox;

Unroll.me - End Email OverloadUnroll.me provides a simple platform to allow you to unsubscribe from lists you are no longer interested in, and then sends the remaining subscriptions to you in one simple “rollup” . An email digest that allows you to pick and choose what you want to read and ignore. The platform supports Gmail and Yahoo mail. You can review and redirect emails that you want directed to your inbox, and simply review and delete those you don’t. In addition you can organize your rollup by category to see specific items of interest.

TheSwizzle.com - Clean up your inbox!theswizzle.com is a similar site, but it supports not only GMail and Yahoo, but Gmail, Google Apps, Mac.com , and – Me.com This site is a lot more graphic than unroll.me. The process is the same, and the difference for users will be in their email provider or their preference for the user interface of each site.  As you sign up for theswizzle, you have the option of unsubscribing from the service, or unsubscribing and deleting the emails (an option I preferred). Swizzle also allows you to subscribe to brands through their interface so you can add brands to your digest, giving you the option to browse coupons and offers to your heart’s content while keeping your email load down.

 

 

Mailstrom- The smarter, faster way to clean out your inbox.Mailstrom.com, a site that is still in Beta, may just be a case of saving the best for last.

If you’re like me, you keep emails because you a) want to deal with them later, b) because you want to keep the email for some business purpose or c) because you read it and neither archived nor deleted it. After a while, you have lots of emails cluttering up your inbox when they should be stored in some organized manner. Having multiple email addresses just complicates the issues. Mailstrom  helps organize the thousands of old emails you have in a number of different accounts by creating archives using a number of categories. You can sort and review emails by sender, subject, date, time, lists you appear on,  and even the emails you receive from social networks. In just a short time you can archive and organize thousands of emails , keeping everything in easy to find folders.

You may not get to Inbox Zero today, but with these tools, you’ll get a lot closer! Have tips of your own? Please leave them in the comment section so others can benefit from your advice.

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The Best Ways to Get Unfriended and Unfollowed on Facebook,Twitter and LinkedIn

join my network by Tom Fishburne

Join My Network Courtesy of Tom Fishburne

I guess it had to happen.

People heard that there were a lot of consumers using social media, and perceived that those consumers had gotten together for the sole purpose of moving forward the business agendas of anyone with a computer or smartphone. Sadly for those of us who were exploring this new frontier, a whole new raft of socially unacceptable behavior was about to be born.

Using social media for business purposes is a balancing act, trying to increase your acceptance and build trust with an online community while advancing your legitimate business purpose. Like anything worth doing, its worth doing well, but if it isn’t done well, it can boomerang and actually decrease your standing with your community or their desire to listen to any of your communications. Here are a couple of things that tend ot drive people crazy online

  1. Automated responses - When people tweet or connect with others online  they aren’t looking to connect with an automation – they are looking for a real personal connection. A response that is obviously an auto-responder causes an almost immediate disconnect – leading may people to block, unfollow or unfriend the person who thought they were acknowledging the new connection. When people take the 2nd day of the e-Pro course, at one point the tweet out to the e-Pro team. We will respond personally, because that’s what there effort was a personal effort. Its no a lot of effort for the positive responses it brings us.
  2. Thoughtless Broadcasting- I get a lot of unsolicited requests on LinkedIn, a network that I keep the closest watch on and am most protective of. For example, I rencently got a request from someone in my marketplace that said  ”Find out why I use LinkedIn. Stay in touch and build your professional network.  - (Name Redacted) .”  Seriously? I don’t even know you. Why would I care what motivates you? Even in this smaller social space, we constantly get messages from people promising us things we don’t want or need, indicating they have no idea who we are or what we are interested in. These folks don’t take the time to cull their list and be sure that the message they were sending is at least potentially appropriate for the recipient. Direct mail marketers are more considerate than that – but then again they have to pay for stamps.
  3. Careless Commenting - I’ve always felt that we have two reasons and one mouth for a reason – listening is at least twice as important as speaking, and thoughtful speaking is far more important than speaking at all. People often feel the need to speak first and think later – but when they do that online, they create a permanent record of their thoughtlessness. Just as people need to wait before they send an emotion filled email, they should wait before posting an emotion filled response on Facebook or on a blog post. And if you are the target of such a response, remember that there are those online who live for the controversy. They make themselves appear larger by being the center of controversy because they have little or nothing of value to add to the conversation.

Interested in building a network online? Its very simple and can be explained in just a few words. Be Transparent, Be Genuine, Be Consistent. When people know who you are, know what you care about, and know that they can rely on you, they want  you as part of their network. Upon reflection, it seems so simple, and yet, for many its so hard. I hope that it isn’t hard for you.

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Antique Locks and Keys

Three Tools to Unlock Business Success

Antique Locks and KeysThe are lots of tech tools that are promoted as being the one thing you need to make your business better, but many of them require you to change the way you do business to employ them effectively, or are aimed at redesigning your entire workflow. Some of them may work for you, and some may not, but I wanted to suggest a few tools that anyone can fit into any existing work flow and will , by using them increase their efficiency and potentially their income through their utilization. I use all of them, so I’m a little bit prejudiced, but I would suggest that at their very simplest level each of these tools could be adopted by anyone of any level of tech skills, and integrated to their current workflow with immense benefit. Without a lot of fuss and bother, let’s take a look at my trio of business helpers.

  1.  CardMunch - is a smart phone app which turns your smart phone into a business card scanner. The best part of it is that after taking the photo of the business card, it is transcribed in to a contact base, and can even be used to establish a LinkedIn connection (since the app is owned by LinkedIn) .
  2. Evernote – If you’re note using Evernote, you’re missing a great opportunity to work more efficiently. Evernote acts as a combination file cabinet and notebook, allowing you to synchronize your data across computers, iPads,   e Pads  and smartphones. The note can be audio, photos, or text, as well as web clipping interesting websites you visit. You can organize your notes through tags and notebooks, and in the paid version can share notebooks with others. Some real estate agents use Evernote for creating and sharing transaction folders with their buyers and sellers, and in combination with electronic signature vendors like Docusign, share documents and obtain electronic signatures through this Swiss knife of an application.
  3. DropBox.  No list of great business apps would be complete without Dropbox. This cloud based file saving and synchronizing platform is worth its weight in gold if you work with a team for your business, or if you want to share photos or date with others in your company. The program is simple. You save files in a folder marked “My Dropbox” and it synchronizes across every platform you have installed the app on. Your iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, android phone or tablet – everywhere you have an internet device you have access to your files. Just this morning I was working on a BPO for a client in Dallas Texas, when I noticed that the photos we had in our Dropbox file were not recent enough for the report. I called my assistant in Philadelphia who ran out to the property and uploaded new photos of the listing into Dropbox. I was able to view them in Honolulu (where I was taking a short vacation) almost simultaneously, I was able to view them on my iPad while I uploaded them to the BPO on my Mac to send to my client in Dallas Texas. By simply having Dropbox installed on each device, I was able to view and upload at the same time using different devices. The possibilities are endless. Share a file of receipts with your accountant to make keeping tax records easier. Create as many folders and sub-folders as you wish and share them with whomever you wish, keeping the other folders completely private.

Next time – I’ll tell you about a couple of great tools for working on that glut of email you deal with everyday. Until then – try these and see how they can help you do what you already do, but do it just a little bit better

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Generating Unbreakable Passwords

People are lazy. People don’t think that bad things are going to happen to them. People feel safe online. People have a hard time creating memorable passwords, and often create passwords that they cannot remember. These are the conclusions I have come to after thinking about how people handle their online security.

Millions of hacked passwords were analyzed in 2010 to determine that the most common password of those hacked was, …wait for it…Password.  In the recent hack of LinkedIn, the number one password hacked was “Link”, just edging out 1234 (there’s a winner!), and the variants 12345, 123456, 1234567, and 654321 all in the top 30.Obviously creating a good password can be a challenge.

So here’s a way to create a password that is really difficult to crack, yet really easy to remember.

  1. Think of something in your life.
  2. Create a sentence about it, preferably one that uses a number.
  3. Use the first letter of each word, and the numeric value of the number to create a password.

For example “When I was 10 I had a red bike” would be Wiw10iharb, a pretty difficult password to guess, unless the person knew you when you were 10, remembered the color of your bike, and knew that you had chosen that phrase to generate your password. Or “I graduated Penn State University in 4 years” generating Igpsui4y as your password.

Both passwords would be considered pretty strong, They are 10 and 8 characters long respectively. They have a mixture of letters and numbers, and the placement of those letters and numbers are not sequential. And we could make them even better by adding a character for example “I hated the Boston Celtics since I was 12″ (IhtBCsiw12) would be made even stronger by saying “I hated the Boston Celtics & the LA Lakers since I was 12″ (IhtBC&tLALsiw12) And either password would make me a 76ers fan, very happy :)

The possibilities are endless, and that is the strength of the password generator. Of course no password is truly impossible to crack, and the theft of passwords from LinkedIn and Sony, and numerous other sites is a strong recommendation for having several passwords rather than (as many people do) having one password you use all the time. But using this simple password generating trick will go a long way to making your online interaction safer.

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What is the “Post Social Web”?

I have to admit that I am a big fan of Forrester Research. They’re smart folks and constantly coming up with fascinating information as a result of their studies and interpretations. Watching this video from LeWeb was the first time I’ve seen those thoughts and interpretations verbalized and explained by their CEO, George Colony. Listening to a smart person explain their insight is nothing less than awesome.

This 20 minute video is a big investment of time in today’s world, but it is well worth it- where else could you get an explanation of how faster processors, increasingly and large and inexpensive storage are impacted by the bottleneck of network speed? And you don’t even need to fly to Paris like the others in the audience… OK, so maybe seeing it in Paris would be better, but I’m doing the best I can here! :)

Enjoy.

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