A personal email address (Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail) is great for personal use. Moreover, an email address is absolutely necessary to sign up for any service today- job boards, online banking, even social networking sites such as LinkedIn & Facebook need your email for sign-up and authentication purposes.
However, as a Small Business owner or Self-employed (Freelancer) professional – personal email doesn’t cut it anymore. You absolutely & definitely must have a Professional Email Address.
Picture this for a moment – you are at a networking event and you meet a Lawyer – and he specializes in litigation or counsel for self-employed professionals. Great!! He sounds like someone who would be nice to have in your network (just in case ). Then he gives you his business card – it says “John Doe, Lawyer” and then at the bottom his email address is john_Doe123456@gmail.com.
Ugh!! talking about losing credibility instantly. Chances are you would reconsider your decision to hire him or work with him (I know this sounds crude but this is the case many times). It sounds harsh, but folks professionalism and credibility goes a long way in forging business relationships.
If you are a freelance Graphic Designer or Web Developer and you still are using your @gmail.com or @hotmail.com address – that is not a sign of professionalism.
In my career, I have come across countless business owners of freelancers who still use free Gmail/Yahoo addresses for their work. They give it out to their clients and suppliers. They advertise it all over the world.
Let’s look at some reasons why Professional Email Addresses are a must.
It conveys professionalism and provides a better impression to your customers. You will gain their trust and respect immediately.
Your professional email address is linked directly to your business name. It is another avenue for people to remember your company’s name.
3. Easier Management
It is much easier to keep your business emails and contacts separate from your personal when you use two different accounts.
Now, let’s look at some options on where you can obtain a Professional Email Address.
If you have your website registered with a company such as Godaddy, they will most likely offer you a free email address. Also, your web-hosting company also offers you the same option. This is the cheapest option, you might be able to get your email address for free. However, there are some limitations.
For instance, in most cases, you are only able to access your email by logging into your domain/hosting control panel. There is no easy-to-access web application or mobile app. This could become a pain in the ass, as you won’t be able to get real-time notifications. However, If you are starting off or low in funds, this is a viable option.
Google For Business
Though predominant in the case of personal email – GMAIL has become extremely popular with Small Businesses. For as little as $5 per month, you not only get a professional email address of your choice, but also additional perks such as Google Drive Storage (30 GB to start), administrative controls,24×7 Support, etc.
Here is more information on Google Mail for Business. Moreover, if you use primarily Google Apps such as Drive, Zoho CRM, etc. this would provide seamless integration.
Office 365 (Exchange Online)
Microsoft has come a long way in terms of the value offering for its cloud-based email solution. For many years, Microsoft dominated the Business Email scene however with added costs of licensing, software assurance -the cost does add up over time and it became unaffordable for freelancers and small business owners.
Today, the story is completely different – for as little as $5 per month – you will get a professional-grade email address, 1 TB OneDrive Storage (plus tons of other cool stuff such as Office Online, Yammer,etc.). And Microsoft keeps adding more and more features each month. Here’s more information on Office 365 for Small Business.
I hope this article has given you some perspective on the importance of having a Professional & Branded email address. And I do hope you take this matter seriously.
You put a tremendous amount of time and effort into your business & branding – so why not make your communication more Professional & Credible.