Whether you realize it or not, your email address says a lot about who you are as a professional and the quality of the business you run. Back in the days of yore, initial meetings provided first impressions. However, these days with nearly all things being handled electronically, a customer’s first impression of you is the email address you have selected and provided on your website, your business cards and on all your literature, promotional materials and even your private investigator videos.
If you’re wondering whether this is true or not, consider for a moment opening an online banking account: Would you put your trust in a financial institution that has chosen for itself an email address of firstname.lastname@example.org?” An extreme example, of course, but it makes my point. Presenting yourself and your company in a professional manner attracts the attention of an ideal client base, i.e., law firms, insurance companies, banks and various other types of financial institutions, governmental entities and individuals as well, who seek out only the best of companies to work with and give their cash to. You want to be included in that workforce; therefore, the first impression potential clients should have of you is that, clearly, you are up for the job!
Recently, a study was conducted by the folks at hunch.com as to what the most common type of person was who used the most common type of email address. You might be surprised to learn, in a nutshell, the following generalizations:
- AOL users were the oldest users, optimistic, family oriented, resided in suburbs, read magazines and have not traveled abroad.
- Yahoo users were mostly overweight female high school graduates with children and a sweet tooth who have not traveled outside their home country.
- Hotmail users were usually females, in better physical condition than Yahoo users, normally childless, living in the suburbs probably still with the parents and regarded themselves as pessimistic.
- Gmail users tended to be focused males with higher levels of education, city dwellers, well-traveled, career minded, tech-savvy who preferred to dress in T-shirts and jeans while at home and snack on salty foods.
You get the idea. If you were in search of a serious minded, go-to private investigator to get the job done, would you feel more comfortable with an individual who gravitated toward Yahoo/Hotmail or toward Gmail? Presentation is everything in our competitive business world so give yourself the benefit of having a positive image right from the start.
My personal recommendation, and what has worked successfully for my own business as well as many others in our profession, is to link my email address to my website and domain name, e.g., yournamehere@CompassPointPI.com. I cannot emphasize this highly enough. Personally, I believe that having a domain and website is the cornerstone of a solid business and I always start my research of a company or individual by visiting their website first. Not only does this add to your credibility, it is also your best form of advertising. You can obtain websites relatively inexpensively through a hosting company, although you can certainly obtain a domain name and email address separately if you aren’t interested in creating a website at this time. Many hosting companies, for example Gmail, will provide without charge any number of email addresses in the event you have employees or possibly a few versions of your name and company. Most website hosting companies also provide URL-specific email address with their hosting plans now as well.
If you do decide to fore-go a domain name in your email address, after reviewing the study by hunch.com you may want to consider not using an AOL or Yahoo address, at least for business purposes, as your professional image is of first and foremost importance. Since you want to be careful how you are identified, by the selection of a proper email address you are not only telling the world who you are and what the nature of your business is, you are also putting out there the degree of professionalism with which you conduct your business.
And with so much riding on this form of “free advertising,” wouldn’t it be wise, then, to carefully select how you will present yourself to the business world?
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