How much time did you spend on deciding on the appearance of your business cards? Or your letterhead? Why was it so important to get them just right?
Were you trying to present a professional image?
Now, how much time did you spend on the appearance of your email address? Did you give it the slightest thought? Judging by the emails I get from countless colleagues in this business, few do.
There are two parts to an e-address, just as there are to your postal address: who you are, and where you are. Who you are, your e-name comes before the @ symbol, and where you are, your domain name, comes after it.
People seem to make up e-names with little thought of what they convey to the recipient of their email. If you want to project a professional image, give it more thought than these examples that strike me as unprofessional, and why:
A012345@xxx.xx – Obviously not a human being;
email@example.com – Must I guess who has these initials?
firstname.lastname@example.org – Cute, no surname (unless it’s Lucy);
Admin@xxx.xx – Great personal touch!
Sydney@xxx.xx – Male, female, first name, surname?
BigMoney23@xxx.xx – Where’s BigMoney01, -02, etc.?
email@example.com – Just anyone in the life department?
firstname.lastname@example.org – Or just anyone in the company;
Mimi-and-Max@xxx.xx – How did Max get into Mimi’s act? (Or vice versa?)
The general complaint is that it’s unclear who you’re dealing with. Some even look as if they’re from spammers or porn promoters.
People want to know:
a) that they’re dealing with a human being,
b) if it’s someone they know (not necessarily by their initials),
c) and not the cute receptionist, (or porn queen),
d) or the impersonal administration department,
e) where there’s no doubt about the sex or surname of the source,
f) and he or she is not one of a number series,
g) or just anyone in the department or firm,
h) or possibly the spouse of their advisor.
Most subscribers to my email newsletter, “TIP: The Insurance Professional” have professional e-names that clearly indicate who sent the message. They use the name they’re known by so, if they email a client, prospect, or center-of-influence, the recipient has no doubt about who it’s from.
Good examples are AlanArcher@xxx.xx, Bill.Burns@xxx.xx, email@example.com, etc. Hyphens, and underlines are trickier to remember, so try to avoid them. Some people even have problems with periods. I use ‘donpooley’, and tell people “it’s all one word”, to keep it simple.
Initial capitals don’t matter, but if you think they help identify you, use them. Capitalising whole names is considered rude by email aficionados (unless it’s an acronym), so BILL.BURNS@xxx.xx is not only gauche, but amateurish, and hence unprofessional.
Think about it. If you want to be considered a professional, your image must reflect it in every way. Don’t let your e-name dull your image, or confuse your
Your Domain Name
The second part of your e-address, your domain name, is as important as your office address. If your image requires a prestigious downtown office, then your domain should reflect it. Ditto if you seek to indicate that you’re unique, and special in some way, or a totally independent advisor.
When we start emailing, or to email friends or relatives, a commonplace domain, such as: telus.net, sympatico.ca, yahoo.com, aol.com, etc., is usual, but it tells recipients of your email either that you are new to digital communication, or that this is not a business message.
On the other hand, while a domain of a large firm such as: clarica.com, freedom55financial.com, assante.com does indicate a business message, it also implies that you’re not an independent advisor.
Because of this, many advisors advertise their independence by registering their own domains, so you’ll see domains such as johnsonfinancial.ca, jackjohnson.com, rrspguy.com, etc. The key here is something that uses your name, your business name, or something readily associated with you.
Domain names are easy to get, and cheap—$ 35 annually for .ca, less for most others—but they have to be unique to get registered.
What Does Your E-Address Tell People About You?
Your e-address says as much about you as your letterhead or business card, and just as you use them to project a professional image, so should you use your email address.
Your email address may actually be more important to your image than your letterhead or business cards. How many letterheads did you use last week? How many business cards did you hand out? How does their combined total compare to the total number of business emails that you sent out?
So, which projects your image more often? And how professional is it?