This past week I went to a number of networking events with great anticipation, I just knew I was going to meet someone who was going to grab my attention. The reality is, someone did grab my attention, in fact, many people grabbed my attention, for the wrong reason’s. I must state up front, I do not do things right all the time, in fact, I do more wrong than I do right, at least that’s what my wife tells me : )
Have you ever gone to a trade show and chatted with business owners with a booth? Have you attended networking events where you meet someone for the first time and they start to pitch you immediatly. You feel almost violated, they hand you their card, and there it is, staring you right in the face, the one thing that makes that little voice in your head start crying. It’s at that time I start to question business owners strategy of free.
There are many services you can use that are free on the Internet, some are valuable, and some are not, that’s the way of the world. As I told a writer at one of my workshops, they were concerned that anyone could write and become famous. That was bothersome for that person, I showed her how she could write a book, publish it and sell it on Amazon for virtually no cost. At that point she started to scream. I also shared with her, crap doesn’t sell, so who cares if a million people get published this week, if it’s good writing it will sell, if it isn’t…guess what, it won’t.
Let’s get to my point, your strategy of free needs to be well thought out, why? Perception is everything. For example, using free email services like GMail, Yahoo, MSN and so on, are great for learning how to master email, great for learning to see a bigger picture in yur technology strategy, they are not good for PR.
I went to one networking event recently and there were some 40 people in attendence, I got 22 business cards, half of them were using free email services, worse yet, they were using there ISPs domain name. If you are in business, invest in your own domain name, ensure that your email address on your card is using it. There are many businesses that block GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo and the like because of fraudulent uses. Having these email addresses on your business card tells me you aren’t serious about being in business, right or wrong, that’s the perception most will have with you and your business. If you are using @shaw.ca or @telus.net, you might as well be using a Hotmail account or any of the other free services in my humble opinion.
Using free services may not always the best decision for your business, especially free email services. Let me re-phrase that, publishing these free email services on your business card may not be the best decision for your business. Also, putting an email address of firstname.lastname@example.org is another item you may want to re-think. The info email address is a haven for SPAMMERS, they love that email address.
I know I may sound critical and coming off hard on this strategy of using free email services, but using these services is one thing, publishing them as your primary email service for your business is not good for your businesses image.
I am not suggesting these companies that provide these free services are bad or good, they help many people who may not be in a position to have their own domain name. I do recommend using these services, primarily for private usage, not as a public tool to reach me.
So I beg of you, think long and hard on the strategy of using free services, and how you will use them. The strategy of free should not be taken lightly. Email is only one of the many free services you can use, I’ll touch on more in future blog posts. Good luck, and feel free to contact me for further insight on the Open & Free Business Model.