Volume 15, Issue 2 - March-April 2011

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Having a Professional E-mail Address
Manny Hondroulis

In a few of my previous columns and in the context of presenting a broader point, I briefly discussed the importance of having a professional e-mail address for your business, one that is not @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com or @gmail.com. I think the subject merits its own column.

A professional e-mail address is where the text to the right of the “@” is your company name (or close to it) and where the text to the left of the “@” is some derivative of your name.

I googled “having a professional e-mail address” and came across an online conversation started by a person who asked, “Does having a professional e-mail address really matter?” The majority of respondents said, “yes.” One person wrote, “Just this week, when hiring creative talent for a small gig, I discounted a couple applicants solely on account of their unprofessional e-mail addresses.” This is not just one person’s opinion; another respondent added, “Personally I try to avoid business with potential contractors who use Gmail or any other free provider.” Note the word “contractor” in the last statement. Aren’t we all contractors?

“Not having a professional e-mail address may mean the difference between an end-user calling you or calling your competition. It’s not worth the risk considering how inexpensive it is.”

Don’t get me wrong; Hotmail accounts have use in our personal lives, just not in our professional lives. You probably already separate business from pleasure on other fronts. There’s no reason not to separate e-mail—one account for personal use and another for business. For those of you still e-mailing from Hotmail for business, hopefully now you see the importance of having a professional e-mail address.

So how do you get started? First, buy a domain name. That’s the text to the right of the “@.” If you have a company website, you probably already own one. Just use it. If you don’t own a domain name, buy one through GoDaddy (godaddy.com) or another registrar—it costs less than $12.00 per year. However, choose one carefully. Make sure that it represents your company name in a professional manner.

Once you have registered a domain name, you now need to purchase an e-mail plan. I suggest doing it through the same company that registered your domain name. Some registrars provide free e-mail plans with domain name registration. An e-mail plan allows you to send and receive e-mails through the domain name you just purchased. Once you purchase an e-mail plan, you now need to define the different e-mail addresses (the text to the left of the “@”) and assign a password to each.

You need to establish a naming convention to define those e-mail addresses. Potential suggestions are: first initial + last name, first initial + middle initial + last name; first name.last name; just to name a few. For example, John A. Smith would be jsmith@domainname.com, jasmith@domainname.com and john.smith@domainname.com. If you have multiple employees, you will need multiple e-mail addresses. I suggest having a consistent format for all of your company e-mail addresses. Be sure to make your e-mail account the “catchall” account, meaning that any e-mail sent to your domain name will come to you unless that e-mail was addressed to a previously defined e-mail account.

Now that the e-mail addresses are defined, it’s time to send and receive e-mail. You can do this one of two ways—through an e-mail client like Microsoft Outlook or through the web. Microsoft Outlook is a user-friendly e-mail program that makes composing e-mails as easy as composing Word documents. You can configure Outlook to check multiple e-mail accounts. All you need is the incoming and outgoing mail server settings and user name and password of your e-mail account. Most e-mail providers provide tutorials for configuring Outlook.

If you don’t have Outlook, you can check your e-mail through the web. Most e-mail providers already have a user-friendly interface for doing so. If GoDaddy is your provider, simply type webmail.yourdomainname.com into your internet browser and you’re taken to GoDaddy’s webmail interface.

Not having a professional e-mail address may mean the difference between an end-user calling you or calling your competition. It’s not worth the risk considering how inexpensive it is.

Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager for Energy Performance Distribution in Baltimore. Mr. Hondroulis’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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