• Wednesday, October 05, 2016 12:59 PM | Anonymous
    The NLA is getting ready for the 2016 LCT-NLA Show East, but how ready are you? The East Show offers unparalleled networking opportunities and a valuable educational program. To prepare yourself for the best possible show experience, the NLA has put together a list of the most important tips that will help you before, during and after the show.

    1. Register early. As with most trade shows, the East Show offers cheaper registration rates for early registration. If you know you are planning to attend, register as early as possible to obtain the best deal. In addition, consider registering multiple people from your company as group discount rates are available.
    2. Book your hotel room early. Even though there is a room block set aside with special room rates for show attendees, you should still reserve your room as early as possible if you have specific requests for your room and to ensure that the room block doesn’t sell out before you book.
    3. Start networking prior to the event. Make a list of people you would like to connect with during event.  Consider reaching out to them before the show to schedule time to meet with them at the show.
    4. Download the show’s mobile app. You can create a personalized schedule of all of the sessions and events you would like to attend to keep you on track. You can also receive late-breaking information and alerts.
    5. Divide and conquer. Read through the agenda ahead of time and plan what you want to attend. If attending with a coworker, consider dividing up the sessions so that between you so that each of you has new information and insights to bring back to the office.
    6. Plan an exhibit hall strategy. Read the exhibitor list ahead of time and make a list of companies you want to speak with.  Take advantage of the exhibit hall hours to network with companies and other attendees.
    7. Bring business cards. When networking, your business card is key in making lasting connections. Write notes on the business cards you receive from others to remind yourself what you discussed with them.
    8. Check social media. LCT and the NLA will be posting on Facebook and Twitter during the show so check your social media frequently to see show updates and even add some of your own. When uploading pictures and posts, check to see if the show has a hashtag so others can see your show-related posts. You should also use the show hashtag if applicable.
    9. Venture outside your comfort zone. You might learn the most by attending sessions outside of your usual area of expertise.
    10. Don’t be afraid to approach people. All attendees are looking to network so put yourself out there to make as many connections as possible.
    11. Wear comfortable shoes. The distance between the meeting space/exhibit hall and your hotel room is going to require a lengthy walk. Make sure you wear supportive shoes to keep you moving and on your feet for the whole day, especially if you plan to take a few laps around the exhibit hall.
    12. Stay hydrated. Consider bringing your own water bottle to the show as it may be hard to find once you get to the meeting space. Drinking water will help keep you alert and active.
    13. Work in meal times. Even though the show will be jam-packed with great sessions and networking events, it is important set aside time to eat to sustain you through a full day of activity.
    14. Be prepared for anything. You can’t predict how you might feel or what might come up so be sure to pack aspirin, eye drops, prescription meds, band-aids, gum, mints, lip balm, hand sanitizer or anything that will keep you fully functioning to get the most out of your show experience. Walking back to your room to get anything will waste valuable time.
    15. Dress accordingly. LCT recommends a business casual dress code during the show. Be sure to dress professionally but comfortably for the long hours of sessions and events. Don’t forget to bring a jacket or sweater as meeting rooms tend to be chilly.
    16. Stay organized. You will come away with lots of notes, business cards, and names. Take thorough and concise notes of key take-aways with headings, bullet points, or whatever you need to decipher the information later.
    17. Keep a running list of ideas to implement right away. While some ideas may take longer to put into effect, you will probably learn a few things that you can use right away.
    18. Sleep. With a full and exciting schedule, it is important to get enough sleep so you have plenty of energy for the long show days. You may be doing late dinners or networking events, but make sure you make room in your schedule to rest and prepare yourself for the next day.
    19. Charge electronics. You will be using your phone for the mobile app, checking your emails and to stay connected with colleagues, family and friends. It is important to have any electronics you may use at 100% so you don’t have to interrupt your day to re-charge them. Bring a mobile charger as outlets may be hard to find and you also don’t want to be stuck next to an outlet if you do find one.
    20. Don’t overdo it. Enjoy the social events and networking gatherings, but don't overdo it.  You don’t want to miss out on the next day’s events because of a hangover or exhaustion. It’s okay to unwind and enjoy a cocktail or two, but make sure you stay professional and considerate as these events can be very helpful in creating business connections.
    21. Follow up with people you met at the conference. Use the business cards and connections you made at the show and reach out to everyone you encountered. You never know where one introduction could take you and your business so follow up with everyone.
    22. Share what you learned with your team. The show is an excellent learning opportunity not only for you but your team as well. Even if they didn’t attend the show, they can still take the information you learned and implement in their day-to-day work. Take the time to walk them through what you learned and create a game plan for how your whole team can improve their skills and grow your business.
  • Monday, September 19, 2016 9:58 AM | Anonymous

    You may have been assessed a $30 monthly penalty for failing to maintain a PCI Compliance Certificate with your credit card processor. That $30 fee is a fine initiated by the acquiring banks and back-end processors who assess a penalty when your PCI Compliance Certificate is not kept up to date. It is very important for all merchants in the United States to remain PCI compliant in an effort to reduce fraud and data breaches from happening. In 2006, an independent body was created by Amex, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and JCB to effectively try to reduce credit card fraud caused by poor handling of credit card information by merchants and their employees. On a grand scale, think of Target and its data breach of nearly 40 million credit card numbers from their internal computer servers. This should paint a pretty big picture of why the need for PCI compliance exists. If Target can suffer such a damaging breach, small and medium businesses across the U.S. are surely vulnerable to such breaches. Our goal is to help you protect your business and avoid being fined for non-compliance.

    In the majority of merchant related fraud cases, merchants were largely responsible for the leaks of credit card data by improper handling of credit cards by employees or inefficient security walls and protection in their servers. Merchants are provided card numbers, expiration dates and the magic three or four-digit security codes. If written down, they become a license to steal by anyone who happens upon them. This is what makes PCI compliance so important to the credit card processing industry as well as card issuers. PCI in our own terms is merely a "how to guide" or rule book on the most secure methods to process credit cards. No matter what type of merchant you are, if you accept credit cards you are mandated to be PCI Compliant. We relate this mandate to the equivalent of a liquor store holding a liquor license. There are certain rules and policies liquor store merchants must follow with respect to selling alcohol.

    In its proper acronym, it is called PCI DSS. That's Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. A simple Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) is completed by merchants on an annual basis and submitted to your processor to insure that you are handling credit card numbers with sensitivity and your computers cannot be hacked by an outside source. It's simply an annual review that reinforces and reexamines the way you do business with credit cards. This should not be viewed as a bad thing but rather a good thing that helps protect your business. Just like an annual checkup with your doctor, the annual SAQ reviews the health and wellness of your data security.

    As a merchant, you are responsible for safeguarding your client's credit card information. Once a credit card number is entered into your computer system it must be stored in an encrypted format so employees are only able to see the last four or five digits of the card number and never have access to the entire number again.

    Developing policies that prohibit the transmission of credit card information by email or text messaging with your employees can further prevent data breaches from occurring.

    Written by: 
    Jeff Brodsly
    CEO, Chosen Payments

  • Tuesday, August 09, 2016 2:06 PM | Anonymous

    Email Etiquette

    20 Tips and tricks to cut down on clutter and get a better response rate

    The NLA staff recently sat down to discuss email etiquette, email best practices, and how to better manage email communications overall. Below are the top tips and suggestions from the team.

      1. Think twice about hitting “Reply All”. Refrain from hitting this overly used button unless you really think everyone on the list needs to receive the email. The infamous “Reply All” button is one of the biggest contributors to email clutter.
      2. Subject lines are key! Keep them short, simple, and clear. You may also want to consider including actions required right in the subject. For example, “RESPONSE NEEDED: Opinion on XYZ” or “FOR REVIEW: Draft Contract”. Consider taking it a step further and include deadlines within the subject line for maximum impact and response rate.
      3. Ask yourself if the email you are sending is necessary or are you cluttering someone’s inbox. Sometimes no action or reply is required. Don’t feel obligated to say “thanks” or “got it” unless the sender asks you to confirm. This can vary on a case by case basis so use your best judgment.
      4. Keep fonts and font colors professional. If you want to be taken seriously you will not want to use a whimsical font in purple. Stick to colors like black or blue.
      5. Turn your caps lock off. No one likes to receive emails where they feel like they are being yelled at throughout.
      6. Consider the content. Is what you are writing confidential? You might want to think twice about emailing confidential information. Email is easy to forward so always assume that what you are putting in writing might be viewed by others. It is better to be safe than sorry!
      7. Get to the point and fast. People have limited time and short attention spans. Get your main point, question, or purpose out first and not hidden in a long wordy email. Use the rest of the email to support the initial purpose, if needed, but chances are that if your email is too long then it will not be read in its entirety.
      8. “Tone” down the humor and/or sarcasm. Tone is often lost in an email and can lead to misunderstandings. You do not want to inadvertently offend someone when you were just trying to be funny. When in doubt cut it out and keep it professional.
      9. Use signature blocks. If people have to search far and wide for your phone number, website, or other contact info they are less likely to contact you.
      10. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Your email is a reflection of you and your professionalism. Do not solely rely on spellcheck as a word can be spelled correctly but not be the right word you intended.
      11. Is your attachment attached? We’ve all done it - stated in the email that there is an attachment when in fact we never attached it. Or attached the wrong document. This should be a part of your process when proofreading.
      12. Double-check your recipient list. Have you ever accidentally sent a message to the wrong person because you used the auto fill feature or hit “Reply” instead of “Forward”? These things happen and have the potential to be very embarrassing to you and to the recipient.
      13. The “High Importance” feature should be taken seriously and not overused. Not everything is urgent. The more a sender uses this feature the more recipients stop perceiving the sender’s urgent emails as urgent. Use sparingly for maximum impact.
      14. Respond to emails. Sounds simple enough but not always adhered to. Consider setting a company-wide or personal policy in regard to response times to emails. Even if you do not have the answer right away you want to at least acknowledge receipt of the email and forthcoming full response.
      15. Set an “Out of Office” reply. We are not all available 24/7 and that is OK. You just need to make sure you communicate when you are unreachable and when you will return. It is also a good practice to indicate who can be contacted in your absence if there is an urgent matter.
      16. Folders are your friends. If you have thousands of emails in your inbox or even hundreds, you need to consider setting time aside to create folders within your email program. This will cut down on lost emails or emails that you thought you dealt with but didn’t. The only emails in your inbox should be emails that you need to take action on. Once action is taken, file it.
      17. Block time for email. Most of us could probably spend our entire day managing email communications and never get anything else done. Set time in your day to check email and time to do actual work.
      18. Turn off email notifications and pop ups if you are easily distracted. This can help some people who find themselves doing ten things at once to better stay on task.
      19. Use a scheduling tool. Trying to schedule a meeting can easily result in dozens of emails if you are coordinating with multiple people. To cut down on the back and forth and the clutter, try a scheduling tool such as doodle.com or calendly.com. They are free and will make your life, inbox, and scheduling easier to manage.
      20. Type it, don’t talk it. Sure mobile devices make our daily lives easier, but talk to text is not always “on point”. Deciphering emails that were written using the talk to text feature or even autocorrect can be a challenge for email recipients. If you use these features, it is best to proofread before hitting “Send”. Having a disclaimer on your mobile emails is not enough and incoherent messages might make the sender look unprofessional.

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