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Are You Sharing Too Much? Promoting Your Business Online

By Holly Reisem Hanna

The Internet is a wonderful thing.

It has allowed thousands, maybe even millions of women to stay at home and earn a living doing something that they love. It has allowed families to achieve better work-life balance and it has allowed small startups to flourish with free and low cost online business options.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are scammers, cyber bullies, malicious hackers and downright criminals who want to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals.

So, how can we as women run promote and run our online businesses, while keeping our privacy, safety and security intact?

Here are some ways to protect yourself when working and promoting your business online.

Contact Information: 

Limit how much contact information you have out there. Whether it’s on your social networking profiles or on your website, don’t include your home phone number, physical address or year that you were born.  The less information that is out, the harder it is for criminals to steal your identity.

For mail correspondence set up a P.O. box. Not only will this hide your home address from the public, but it’s good for your email marketing campaigns too. If you are participating in email marketing, your email marketing provider will make you list a physical address, which is then seen on the bottom of every email campaign that you send out.  Along with this, make sure that your home phone and address are unlisted in your local telephone directory.

Geo Tracking: 

While geo tracking can be great if you get lost on a hiking trail, it could be putting your day to day safety at risk. Location based mobile platforms like Four Square and Gowalla are popular social applications that allow users to share their current location, thus allowing individuals in the same area to connect. While this may be a great way to connect and market your business, it definitely puts you at risk, especially if you’re traveling alone.

Not worried, because you’re not using Four Square or Gowalla? Think again, popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter are using similar technology to track your whereabouts. Make sure to turn these features off and set your privacy settings accordingly. Nobody needs to know where you’re at 24-7.

Email:

Every day I am bombarded with email phishing scams, from fake PayPal account closures to “I want to send you money – give me your personal information” emails. Don’t fall for these scams. If you think one of your accounts has been compromised, call up the institution and talk to a representative.  Rule of thumb, delete all unsolicited emails containing attachments and make sure not to open them up – they could contain a virus. Also delete your trash folder on a regular basis. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Geo Tagging:

Do you love taking photos with your smart phone and sharing them with your friends online? This again could put you at risk. Most smart phones are equipped with a geo tagging feature that allows individuals to track exactly where you are just from the photo you took and uploaded from your phone. Luckily there is an easy fix. Just go in to your smart phone’s settings and disable this feature.

Don’t Over Share:

I can even count how many times I’ve seen friends share on Facebook or Twitter, “We’re on vacation”! While being on vacation is fun and exciting, sharing this information while you’re away is an open invite for criminals to break into your house. Limit the amount and type of information that you share online. Post those vacation photos when you return from the vacation.

Monitor:

From keeping an eye on your online reputation to monitoring your accounts and financial information, you need to constantly be aware of what’s going on around you. Nipping the issue in the bud will save you lots of time and frustration.

With a well thought plan and constant monitoring, you can reap the benefits of working online while keeping your privacy, safety and security intact.

How do you promote and run your business online, while keeping your privacy and safety secure?

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11 Responses to “Are You Sharing Too Much? Promoting Your Business Online”

  1. 1
    Angie says:

    I don’t share a lot of contact information on my sites anymore. This has gotten me some guff in the past. However, I think it has helped me in a way stay on target with those who are truly looking to hire someone. I no longer get those freebie seeking phone calls, “I just have a couple of really quick questions.”

    It can also streamline the process. A lot of the information I need in order to know if I can help someone can be captured with the correct contact form. This can cut down on wasted time for both parties.

    • 1.1
      Holly Hanna says:

      Hi Angie – That is another plus to limiting your contact information. I don’t list a phone number either – people who really want to chat with me have no problem corresponding via email first.

  2. 2
    Stephanie says:

    This is a great article! I’m always shocked when I see people post they are checking into __ elementary school around 3pm…advertising to everyone when and where they pick up their kids! While we don’t need to be scared and paranoid, I think we need to be very discriminating about what information we post online.

  3. 3

    Great article.

    Here’s another tip: Use a PO Box or a maildrop location when registering domain names. Go look up your website/blog URL in the WhoIs directory and you may be stunned to see how much people can learn about who you are and where you live/work.

  4. 4
    Traci Bell says:

    Excellent points made! This is so true, especially about stating you’re on vacation on facebook. Facebook is helpful to have when running a business, but the internet is a scary place to reveal certain things.

  5. 5
    Patricia says:

    Hello Holly. I think your two most important points here, for me, is limiting the amount of contact information you have out there. It’s probably the most important piece of advice to follow. It’s okay to have a hub where you info is shared,… but social account have become easier to target these days.

    And don’t even get me started on GEO tracking. You nuff said :)

  6. 6

    A great article Holly. It always amazes me how much information people share online with virtual strangers.

    Having recently got married, it was quite a battle keeping details of our impending honeymoon off the net and away from potentially prying eyes. Not only were well-meaning friends posting and tagging pics from the wedding, but they were also asking when & where we were going, how long we’d be away for, etc. Argh!!

    Clearly people just didn’t consider who else might stumble upon that kind of information.

    It was also hard to balance how much information to give to potential clients on the website, while not giving too much away.

    While I love some of the freedoms afforded by the internet, there’s also some definite downsides which I’m still getting my head around.

    Some great advice from everyone else here too.

  7. 7
    LaTersa Blakely says:

    this is a great article, and that’s one reason why i don’t post a lot of personal info on my social media sites. I have been getting a lot of spam emails lately talking about that very thing. I’m am currently making changes to my website about sharing just enough information about me, but not so much as to it being too personable about my family life. Thanks Holly for another great article.

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