IT Networking: Cost-Savings, Productivity and Security

IT NetworkingBy engaging small business decision makers in discussions about their IT networking needs, you can highlight how automating services like faxing will save your prospect’s or client’s company on manual labor, which indirectly translates into substantial salary savings over the course of the year.

At the very least, network-based faxing will free up staff to focus on higher-level activities, rather than “babysitting” an archaic fax machine.

Listen for Other IT Networking Opportunities

As you get to know more about the prospect’s or client’s business, keep your antenna up for additional solution opportunity areas, such as centrally-managed Internet access for each desktop.

Besides faxing and Internet access, a client/server network makes sharing, protecting and securing information much easier. Through permissions and auditing, small business owners can ensure that only those authorized have access to sensitive information.

By centralizing the storage of data, small businesses can also more easily protect data with a tape backup drive, antivirus software, firewall software and an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

Who Are You Promoting IT Networking To?

Tailoring your message for different audiences and interests is also key. If you’re discussing IT networking with the president or owner of the company, the hot buttons might include costs, the value of proactive technology investments, industry trends, competitive factors and lower labor costs through more automation.

The Bottom Line about IT Networking

If you’re discussing IT networking with middle management or employees in the trenches, make sure to shift gears. Staff and the internal guru will likely want to talk about ease of use and administration, how the network will make their job easier and the amount of training required to become proficient.

IT Consulting: Networking Steps

Starting an IT consulting business requires patience and dedication. The hardest part is often getting new clients. In this article, learn some more of the steps you should take before beginning your IT consulting practice.

Step Sixteen: Get Your Networking Contacts into a Follow Up Plan

With every business card you collect, jot down the date that you met them and any relevant notes about them. If you have a follow up request like they said “hey give me a call about that,” or “hey call me on Tuesday about setting that up”, immediately jump on those.

Follow up on the request tomorrow if not sooner. If you can’t follow up with a personal call, send a handwritten note that says you look forward to seeing them again and if you need any help between now and when we meet again, give me a call. Include your card in the note, and put your contact’s card on a rolodex and put him on a 30, 60-day call back schedule.

Step Seventeen: Re-Evaluate Your Networking Organization Options

Take another look at the different networking groups you attended as a guest. Which ones did you like? Which ones have the most potential for the most business opportunities?  Start joining and participating.  The purpose is to get known and to raise your profile in the community.

Pick out at least 4 groups and join them.  Drop off your check personally to the director or office manager.  Be direct and tell him or her that you have this new IT consulting business and that you are looking for small business that you can help out with LANs, etc. Ask them what is the best way to get to know these small business owners that are most likely to need your IT consulting services.

At every 60-90 minute event, you should be talking to eight or ten people. Half of them may be a waste of time, half of them could be potential clients, half could be potential referrals. It’s a matter of staying organized and keeping your name in front of them.

After you go through the first ninety days and you’ve gone to one of these every week, move on to more sustainable networking.

Step Eighteen: Do Your First Direct Mail Campaign

Have your testimonials in place from your earlier clients, and get your networking organizations’ directory on disc. Send out a personal letter and your business card to every member who may fit into the IT consulting sweet spot. Offer them a free 30-minute needs assessment coupon with an expiration date. Tell them you look forward to seeing them at upcoming event and then you can always follow up with a phone call.

Wireless Home Security Camera

Home security is an important issue for any person. A person’s home is their castle and they want to feel safe and secure. There are several security measures that can be implemented to ensure security such as alarms but one that ensures peace of mind is a wireless home security camera package.

What’s need in the package is a camera to fit either just outside the front or back door that transmits a wireless signal. The best one to buy would be one that has night vision to ensure you can see everything at night. The second would be a receiver. Some receivers have screens so you can watch what’s going on no matter where you are and others need to be connected to a computer or television to see the transmission.

If connected to a computer or television the live feed from the camera can be directly recorded to a hard drive or a cassette or DVD depending on which is convenient. Several cameras can be implemented to get several signals meaning more coverage of the home and the surrounding area.

These wireless home security packages are common and can be purchased at most electronics stores. They are on the expensive side but are worth the purchase for the kind of technology it has. With almost everything becoming wireless these days it was only a matter of time until cameras became wireless also.

Most people need some sort of security measure in place, not for protection, but for peace of mind that they are safe in their home. Although there are several other measures that can be implemented in terms of security, the wireless home security camera is a valuable tool for keeping an eye on things at all times. It will complement any other security measure you have in place and will not disappoint.

TCP/IP architecture model

1.    Network interface(Data link) layer
2.    Network layer
3.    Transport layer
4.    Application layer

Network interface layer
The lowest layer of the TCP/IP model. Its task is to provide access to the transmission physical medium and it differs according to the implementation of the medium.

Network layer
The network layer provides network addressing, routing and datagram transmission.  Used protocols that will be of interest further regarding DHCP are IP and ARP.

IP protocol
It is the basic protocol of the network layer and in general the internet as a whole. It sends datagrams, which are independent units that contain information about the destination, source and the sequence number of the datagram. The sequence number is used for message reconstruction, since the delivery order of the datagrams might not be the same as their order in the message and delivery reliability isn’t guaranteed at all.
IP protocol versions:
”    IP v4 – 32 bit addresses. Provides approximately 4 billion unique addresses which aren’t sufficient at present times.
”    IP v6 – 128 bit addresses. The transition to v6 will bring (is bringing) higher security, QoS, packet segmentation and many more IP addresses. (the transition from IP v4 to IP v6 must be supported by the system provider)

ARP protocol
The ARP abbreviation stands for Address Resolution Protocol. This protocol is used to find the physical address (MAC) based on a known IP address. If required ARP sends information concerning the wanted address to all the stations in the network – Broadcast. The stations consequently answer with a message containing their MAC. If the wanted device/station is outside the node/segment, the appropriate router will answer instead of it.

Transport layer
The transport layer is implemented only in terminal devices and it adjusts the behavior of the network according to the requirements of the device/application.

Application layer
The application layer is composed of programs that use net services to fulfill the needs of users. Examples of specific protocols are for instance FTP, DNS and DHCP.
Application protocols use TCP, UDP or both services at the same time. So called ports are used to differentiate between application protocols, they represent a type of label of the application. It is possible to change the ports in the settings of the service, but each service has a default port that isn’t changed for most services and is used as an unwritten standard.

”    FTP = 21
”    DNS = 53
”    DHCP = 67 + 68

Networking Terms: Educating Your Clients

It is very important to educate your small business prospects and clients on key small business networking terms and buzzwords.  After all, in order to “win them over”, you need to be speaking the same language. In fact, you may even want to prepare a “cheat sheet”, based on the below definitions, to help you in your prospect and client pre-sales activities.

•    NIC (Network Interface Card) – a printed circuit board, adapter card or the underlying supporting chipset that snaps into the motherboard of a desktop PC, notebook or server and transmits and receives packets on a network; used to connect to networks including a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), or a broadband network for high-speed cable modem or DSL-based Internet access or other dedicated Internet access service; most common NIC used by small businesses is the 10/100Mbps Ethernet adapter.

•    NOS (Network Operating System) – an OS designed for communications between networked computer systems; popular NOS’s include Apple Mac OS, Linux, Microsoft Windows NT/2000 and Novell NetWare.

•    Peer-to-Peer Network – an inexpensive alternative to a client/server network in which a PC doubles as both a workstation (used by an end user) and a server (from which resources are shared); although virtually any OS can be configured for peer-to-peer networking, peer-to-peer networks are often assembled from Microsoft’s least expensive consumer OS’s, such as Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows Me and Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition.

•    RAID (redundant array of independent disks) is technology generally used to increase a server’s reliability — by simultaneously writing data to multiple hard drives. While many people also use RAID to improve server performance, RAID eliminates a single point of hard drive failure. Years ago, you could only get the benefits of RAID through SCSI-based hard drives. Today, IDE hard drives can also enjoy entry-level RAID fault tolerance benefits.

•    SCSI (small computer systems interface) is a high-end interface for connecting both internal and external computer peripheral devices. Years ago, only SCSI-based storage devices were used in most servers.

•    Server – any computing device or peripheral on a network designed to provide shared services and resources to network users; primarily characterized by multi-user usage, as compared to a desktop or notebook PC; common servers include the file, printer, e-mail messaging and collaboration, Web, proxy and database server.

•    Wireless Ethernet – set of standards and in-progress standards that allow Ethernet networks to run without physical cabling and utilize radio waves for transmission.

Networking With Fiber Cables

Fiber cables form one of the most important parts of the networking industry today. Fiber cables are composed of one or more transparent optical fibers enclosed in a protective covering and strength members. Fiber cables are used to transmit data by the mode of light. Various types of fiber cables available are multimode duplex fiber cables, single mode simplex fiber cables, single mode duplex fiber cables, and plastic optical fiber cables.

There are many fiber optic cable manufacturers who manufacture full line of fiber cables in both single mode and multi-mode, simples, duplex and multi-strand. Several manufacturers provide low cost, quick-turn, high volume fiber cables and fiber cable assembly solutions.

Cables with complete assembly of fibers, strength members and jacket refer to fiber cables. These fiber cables come in variety of forms depending upon their usability and place of use. It is important to identify the exact requirement of fiber cables whether they would be easy to install, splice or terminate, etc. This is necessary as it ultimately decides the cost of installing the fiber cables.

Fiber cables are required to protect fibers from external hazards. Thus before installing the fiber cables one should always assess the place of installation of fiber cables. Fiber cables required inside the house or a building are not exposed too much of hazardous condition thus simpler form and not-so-tough fiber cables can be used for installation. But if the fiber cables are to be installed for longer distances and outside premises then the cables should be robust. They should also be installed well beneath the ground to protect them not only from ground digging, water logging but also from prairie dogs.

Fiber cables comes in different types based on their usage patterns as well. The zip cord and simplex fiber cables refer to those used for desktop connections. Simplex fiber cables are one fiber, tight-buffered and jacketed. A zip cord is actually two simplex fiber cables joined by a thin web. On the other hand fiber cables made of several simplex cables are breakout fiber cables. This type of fiber cables is strong, rugged and larger. They are also a bit expensive but prove to be economic where distances are not too long and fiber count required is less.

Small fiber cables required for dry conduit run, riser or plenum are known as a distribution fiber cables that needs a breakout –box to be broken up or terminated in a panel box. They contain several tight-buffered fibers bundled under same jacket.

Aerial fiber cables are good enough for outside installation where as armored fiber cables are used for under-ground wiring where rodents are a problem. These fiber cables have metal armoring between two jackets to prevent rodents from tampering the cabling connections.

Loose tube fiber cables are perfect for plant trunk applications to prevent fibers from moisture or water. They can be buried directly in ground but must be handled carefully to prevent damage. Ribbon fiber cables have twelve or more fiber cables packed together laid in a rows. They are also a plant fiber cables which are gel-filled and are good for water blocking.

All fiber cable manufacturers manufacture different fiber cables but their product literatures should be carefully studied so as to assess which type of fiber cables they specialize in.

Finding Your MAC Address On Wired And Wireless Network Cards

The Answer To The Media Access Control Question
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Over the past few weeks I have received quite a few e-mails about Ethernet cards, both wired and wireless, and more specifically, about Media Access Control (MAC) addresses. I think the main reason I’ve received so many questions about Ethernet cards and MAC addresses is people trying to secure their home wireless networks and their desire to use MAC address filtering. This type of filtering in wireless networks can be configured to allow or deny specific computers to use or attach to the wireless network, based on the MAC address.

My first thought was to write an article just about MAC addresses and wireless Ethernet. After thinking about it I decided to expand on this and go over some specific information about Ethernet cards and communication.

Different Ways Of Finding Your MAC Address And More
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There are several ways of finding your Ethernet and communications protocol information. Many Ethernet card manufacturer’s have proprietary software that can reveal this information but they work differently depending on the manufacturer. So we will use the Windows 2000 and XP “ipconfig” utility since this is available in the majority of Windows Operating Systems.

First, go to “start” -> “run” and type “cmd” without the quotes. Then hit the enter key. At the command line type “ipconfig /all”, again without the quotes. Actually, just typing ipconfig without the /all will work but will only provide you with abbreviated information regarding your network cards. An example of what you might see by typing the “ipconfig /all” command is below with each item commented in green lettering:

Fault Tolerant And Highly Availability Computer Systems
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There are several ways of finding your Ethernet and communications protocol information. Many Ethernet card manufacturer’s have proprietary software that can reveal this information but they work differently depending on the manufacturer. So we will use the Windows 2000 and XP “ipconfig” utility since this is available in the majority of Windows Operating Systems.

First, go to “start” -> “run” and type “cmd” without the quotes. Then hit the enter key. At the command line type “ipconfig /all”, again without the quotes. Actually, just typing ipconfig without the /all will work but will only provide you with abbreviated information regarding your network cards. An example of what you might see by typing the “ipconfig /all” command is below:

OutPut Of The “Ipconfig /All” Command
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Windows IP Configuration

Host Name . . . . . . . . . . . . : Home Computer
This is the name of your computer, typically defined during the windows installation. However, it can be changed after installation.

Primary Dns Suffix . . . . . . . : domain.com
If your computer participates in a network such as a Microsoft Windows domain this item may contain the name of the domain.

Node Type . . . . . . . . . . . . : Unknown
The Node Type may say Unknown, or peer-to-peer, or in some cases “hybrid”. It is a setting that has to do with the Windows Internet Naming Services used in certain types of Windows domain networks.

IP Routing Enabled. . . . . . . . : No
This setting determines if Windows XP or 2000 will function as an IP router. If you have two or more network cards you can setup your system to act as a router, forwarding communications requests from one network to another. Windows 2000 can be configured to do this in a pretty straight forward fashion; Windows XP will need a registry modification.

WINS Proxy Enabled. . . . . . . . : No
WINS Proxy is another setting that is related to the “Node Type” we discussed earlier. It is normally not a required setting in a home or small office network, or newer types of Microsoft Windows domains.

Ethernet adapter Wireless Network Connection 2:
If you have multiple Ethernet (network) cards in your systems, as I do in this laptop, you will have multiple listings. This one happens to be the second Ethernet card, an internal wireless Ethernet card.

Description . . . . . . . . . . . : Broadcom 802.11b/g WLAN
This is the description of the Ethernet card, usually the Name / Manufacturer and type of Ethernet card. In this case, it is a Broadcom wireless Ethernet card built into my laptop.

Physical Address. . . . . . . . . : 00-90-4B-F1-6E-4A
And here we have the MAC address. The MAC address is a 48 bit hexadecimal code and is suppose to be a totally unique address. It is 48 bits because each number or letter in hexadecimal represents 8 bits. Hexadecimal numbers range from 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,A,B,C,D,E, F. There are 6 alpha-numeric codes hence 6*8=48(bits). The first 3 codes identify the manufacturer of the card and the remaining codes are used to create a unique number. Theoretically there should never be a card with same MAC address on a local network. However, there are a few exceptions. There are software tools that allow you to change this code. In fact, this is a step some hackers take to attack other systems on a local network. I say local network because MAC addresses are not routable between network segments. By spoofing this address, you can impersonate another machine on the local network. Traffic that was bound for the intended target can be redirected to the hacker’s machine. This is the address you would also use to populate a MAC address, or physical address table when setting up your wireless access point to support MAC address filtering.

DHCP Enabled. . . . . . . . . . . : Yes
DHCP, or the Dynamic Host Control Protocol, if enabled means your computers IP address is being provided by a DHCP server on you network. The DHCP server could be your wireless access point, cable/dsl router, cable modem, or a server on your network. Also, if a DHCP server is not enabled on your network, your computers Operating System will auto generate a random IP address within a certain predefined range. This means you could network a group of systems together without having to manually assign the IP settings.

IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.0.117
This parameter provides you with your current IP address. The address listed above is what is called a “private” address. There are certain classes of IP addresses that have been set aside for private use. This means for your internal, local, or private network at home or office. These addresses are not, or should not, be routable on the Internet. The Internet routes what are called “valid” IP addresses. Your cable/dsl router or cable modem has a valid IP address assigned to its “external” network interface. The external interface may be your phone line or cable TV cable.

Subnet Mask . . . . . . . . . . . : 255.255.255.0
The Subnet Mask is a special number, or in some sense, filter, that breaks down your IP address, in this case private IP address, into certain groups. IP addresses and Subnet Masks can be a complicated matter and would take an entire article to go over.

Default Gateway . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.0.254
The default gateway, the IP addresses listed above, is the IP address of the device that will route your request, such as when you try to browse a website, to the Internet. It is a bit more complicated than that though as gateways or routers can route traffic to various different networks, even other private networks. At your home or small office, this gateway most likely is your cable/dsl modem or router.

DHCP Server . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.0.49
The DHCP server, remember we talked a little about this above, is the device that assigns your computer an IP address and other information. DHCP servers can assign all kinds of information such as; Default Gateway, Domain Name Servers (DNS), IP address, Subnet Mask, Time Server, and much more.

DNS Servers . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.0.49, 64.105.197.58
DNS Servers are internal or external servers that resolve Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDN), such as www.defendingthenet.com , to IP addresses. This is done because computers don’t actually transmit your requests using the domain name, they use the IP address assigned to the FQDN. For most home or small office users, the primary DNS server is the IP address of your cable/dsl router. Your cable/dsl router than queries an external DNS server on the Internet to perform the actual resolution of the FQDN to IP address. The address 192.168.0.49 is an internal private device on my network whereas the 64.105.197.58 is an external public Internet DNS server and is present just in case my router has trouble performing the DNS resolution tasks.

Lease Obtained. . . . . . . . . . : Sunday, March 19, 2006 6:38:16 PM
This information tells you when your computer received its IP address and other information from a DHCP server. You will notice it says “Lease Obtained”, that is because most DHCP servers only lease the IP address to you from a pool of available address. For instance, your pool may be 192.168.1.1 through 192.168.1.50. So your DHCP server has 50 IP addresses to choose from when assigning your computer its IP address.

Lease Expires . . . . . . . . . . : Wednesday, March 29, 2006 9:38:16 PM
When the IP address, assigned by the DHCP server, lease expires it will attempt to lease you the same or another IP address. This function can typically be changed on the DHCP server. For instance, on some fully functional DHCP servers, you can configure the Lease to never expire, or to expire within 1 day and so on.

Why Are MAC Addresses So Important And How Do They Work
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To jump back to MAC address for just a bit. You may think that IP addresses are the most important thing when it comes to network communication. The reality is, MAC addresses are very  important because without them computers would not be able to communicate over Ethernet networks. When a computer wants to speak with another computer on a local network, it will make a broadcast request, or ask a question, of who owns a particular IP address. For instance, your computer may say “Who is 192.168.0.254”. Using the information above, my default gateway is 192.168.0.254 and will answer “I am “00-90-4B-F1-6E-4A” 192.168.0.254”. It sends back its MAC address. That MAC address then goes into what is called a Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) table on your computer. You can see this information by going to the command prompt like you did above and typing “arp –a”. You will get information like the following:

Internet Address Physical Address Type
192.168.0.49 00-12-17-5c-a2-27 dynamic
192.168.0.109 00-12-17-5c-a2-27 dynamic
192.168.0.112 00-0c-76-93-94-b2 dynamic
192.168.0.254 00-0e-2e-2e-15-61 dynamic

How A Hacker Can Use MAC Addresses In An Attack
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You will notice the IP addresses and to the right of them the MAC addresses. Without this information, without the MAC address, you would not be reading this article right now. MAC addresses are not routable like IP addresses. They work on your local or private network. However, devices on the Internet perform the same tasks. Routers and switches maintain a list of their peer devices MAC address just like your computers and devices on your home or office network. I mentioned above that MAC addresses can be changed in order to redirect requests. For instance, if I were on your office network and you had an internal web server that took personal information as input, I could tell your computer to go to my laptop for the web site by broadcasting my MAC address tied to the real web servers IP address. I would do this when you computer asked “Who is the “Real Web Server””. I could setup a fake web server that looks just like the real thing, and start collecting information the real web server would normally collect. You can see how dangerous this can be.

Conclusion
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There are several other easy ways you can find your MAC address but they can be a little confusing if you have more than one internal network card. Most external USB, or PCMCIA wired and wireless Ethernet cards have their MAC address printed on them. In cases where the wired or wireless network card are inside your computer, such as in laptops, the MAC address is sometimes printed on the bottom of the laptop. Even Desktop systems cards that are inserted in PCI slots have the MAC address printed on the Ethernet card.

You may reprint or publish this article free of charge as long as the bylines are included.

Computer Networking Fundamentals

A computer network is a collection of two or more computers with communication between them through a medium. The communication medium can be through radio waves, wires, infrared, optical fibers etc.

Computer network is an integral part of our daily lives, with the most important reason being that of communication. The use of computer networking is to share resources like fax machines, printers, modems, files etc., and its other uses are database server, computer server, email, chat, internet etc. The computer to which the resources are attached is called the server and the other computers that access the resource are called clients. In peer-to-peer computer networks there are no servers.

The sharing of fax machines, printers, and modems amongst many computers and users reduce the operational cost. A database on a computer network is a very important application as it stores and runs many important data and jobs. Emails and chats can be used for instantaneous communication and sending of files on a computer network.

The computer networks are classified, depending upon the size, as Local Area Networks (LAN), Wide Area Networks (WAN), Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN) and Personal Area Networks (PAN). The topology (topology is the way the computer networks and network resources are connected) of the networking can be classified as Bus Network, Ring Network and Star Network.

The networking hardware basically consists of wiring, network cards and a hub. Computer network cards are required so that one computer can understand what the other computer is “talking”. Network cards have a unique MAC address to identify computers on a computer network. Hubs connect all the computers in the network. Hubs can also be used to connect to other hubs to increase the size of the computer network. Two computers can be connected using Ethernet cards or phone lines or power lines for communication, with hardware kits available at roughly a cost of $100.

As the number of computers in an office or a home increases, so do the number of cables, so wireless networking is a viable solution. In wireless networking radio transreceivers or infrared signals are used to communicate between computers and devices. Examples of wireless networking include Wi-fi and Bluetooth technology, though there may be security issues involved in wireless networking. However there definitely is a stronger preference towards wireless networking nowadays among consumers.

Computer networks have added a new dimension to the 21st century. Today the cyber world is much faster and wider than the real world. This has all been made possible due to computer networks. Computer networks have revolutionized business, communication, travel, research, defense, society and almost all human endeavors. The evolution of computer networks has helped the technological revolution take a big leap forward.

Computer Consulting Profit Secrets

Do you own or manage a computer consulting company? Are you having trouble growing your computer consulting company’s profits?

If so, then you must learn how to focus on your computer consulting firm’s profit and bottom line.

In this article, we’ll look at 7 profit secrets and strategies you can use in your computer consulting business, to ensure that you are able to balance your clients’ small business IT needs against your own computer consulting company’s profitability challenges.

Origins of the Problem

While focusing on your computer consulting profits may sound simple enough at first glance, this business-focused discipline often eludes many a computer consulting firm.

This usually happens because many computer consulting business owners fall in love the technology gadgetry, and get seduced by seemingly attractive reseller channel programs, at the expense of their business’ profit.

At the end of the day however, your computer consulting company is a business… not a charity and not a hobby. And your computer consulting company must be run like a business.

Profit Secret #1: Show motivation with your small business computer consulting clients.
To avoid being labeled as just another clueless geek, you need to position your computer consulting services to be more in line with those of a virtual CIO for hire. So always be on the look out for new ways to enhance your clients’ businesses… not just fix broken desktops and servers.

Profit Secret #2: Be dedicated to the task and relentless in your pursuit to improve the status quo.
Because it takes a lot of work to land the best computer consulting clients, you need to focus on lifetime customer value… not just one-shot-deal sales. So always remember that your proposed or recently implemented computer consulting technology solution isn’t a one-shot deal. This kind of long-term vision and planning requires tremendous staying power and perseverance… which often escapes many computer consulting business owners.

Profit Secret #3: Don’t be afraid to be creative with your client engagements.
Small business technology solutions often need to stay within relatively modest budgets. And your computer consulting solutions must work without the need for in-house IT staff. To satisfy these challenges, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when appropriate.

Profit Secret #4: Evaluate how your clients’ systems, both paper- and computer-based, function today.
As part of your virtual CIO role, look at how these existing clients systems are meeting or not meeting present and future needs. Most of this work will be done during IT audits… another key computer consulting profit secret that can really help to separate you from the pack of mediocrity.

Profit Secret #5: Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and think about what THEIR clients need from them.
Yes, as a computer consulting business owner, you need to have good people skills and a certain degree of empathy for your clients’ business problems. But an even more advanced computer consulting business owner doesn’t just stop at understanding their clients’ business problems. The virtual CIO really digs in and learns about their clients’ customers’ business problems… one layer down on the value chain.

Profit Secret #6: Keep up with advances and new versions.
As virtual CIO for your computer consulting clients, your clients depend on your firm to advise them on what tools can better help their businesses grow. So while you can’t allow this R&D and training to consume and devour all of your scarce weekly schedule, you do need to stay a few steps ahead of your clients’ IT needs at all times.

Profit Secret #7: Summarize and share that information with your clients.
The essence of your R&D and training should focus on one major objective: will this new platform or tool add value to your computer consulting clients’ existing or future installations? And how you can best summarize this information, in layperson language that non-technical clients can understand?

The Bottom Line
Your computer consulting firm’s needs to be your client’s virtual IT department can often be at odds with your computer consulting firm’s need to be profitable. A big part of this problem happens because computer consulting business owners fall in love with technology, at the expense of their marketing and sales activities.

To make sure you don’t fall into this same strap, which can kill your computer consulting profits, don’t go overboard with your training and R&D activities. Be sure to keep business development activities in your weekly schedule… EVERY week. If you want to keep your computer consulting profits as healthy as possible, make sure that you’re proactive in your marketing and sales activities… dig the well for computer consulting profits BEFORE you’re thirsty. A

Computer Consulting and Virtual IT

Do you own or manage a computer consulting company? Would you like to achieve greater small business success? If so, then get ready to learn why most computer consulting companies get IT (Information Technology) wrong and what you can do about IT.

The Problem: Why Most Computer Consulting Companies Get IT Wrong

Most owners of computer consulting companies make their jobs much harder than need be. Why? Because these computer consulting business owners fall in love with the technology… and view their small business clients as a distant second priority.

However, if you get this part of “IT” wrong, you will doom your computer consulting company to “clueless geek” status. It’s crucial that you understand one extremely important principle here: Recruiting and retaining small business clients is your #1 computer consulting priority. Keeping up with IT should never get in the way of the mission of your computer consulting company.

In other words, don’t get seduced by the hardware, operating systems or applications. Fall-in-love with the business opportunities surrounding how you solve your clients’ biggest business problems with your recommended IT solutions. That’s the real mission of a computer consulting company.

The Solution: Blend Computer Consulting and Virtual IT

To put this all in perspective with your computer consulting company, you need to understand and embrace the concept of virtual IT.

Virtual IT is what allows your computer consulting company to function as an extension of your small business clients’ companies. Your computer consulting company essentially becomes the outsourced IT department for your small business clients.

As owner or manager of a computer consulting company in this role, you will most likely become the de facto CIO (chief information officer), CTO (chief technology officer), or IT manager for your small business clients.

And just like any well-rounded internal IT department, your virtual IT computer consulting business will need to provide, or arrange for, a complete soup-to-nuts solution that includes services like help desk, desktop support, network administration, engineering, security, training, procurement, and asset management… because anything short of the complete virtual IT solution will leave valuable computer consulting money on the table.

The Bottom Line

Most computer consulting companies are making a huge mistake when it comes to their small business engagements… because these computer consulting business owners fall-in-love with the technology, at the expense of the business opportunities. In order for your computer consulting company to flourish, make sure that you understand the concept of virtual IT and build virtual IT into every major business decision for your computer consulting company. To continue learning more about how you can use virtual IT to grow your computer consulting company.