In the old days when we had only a postal address – house number, street name, city, state (or province) and code – who ever could have anticipated the problems we experience with “mail” today?
And by mail, I mean email. And by problems, I mean – so many of them! How can something seemingly so simple be so complicated?
Here are some of the email dilemmas I hear about, or experience for myself, every day. I share them with you to help you avoid them.
We’ll begin by pointing out that these recommendations are for your PROFESSIONAL, advocacy-related email address. When it comes to your personal email addresses, do what you like! (Although you may find some good advice in here for those, too.)
ISP Provided Email Addresses
ISP stands for “internet service provider” – your cable company, your phone company – whoever you pay to provide your access to the internet. These are companies like Comcast, Spectrum, “Roadrunner”, Frontier, Charter, etc… Since you already receive some sort of communication service from them, they provide you with “free” email addresses.
Sounds like a deal, right? Yeah. Not so much.
For a few reasons, I recommend you avoid using an ISP-provided email address for professional communications. First, you’ve probably signed some sort of use agreement that says they can monitor your email. Now – you may not care about that personally, but clients or potential clients may – and they might object to the non-HIPAA nature of their security.
The second reason may be even more practical. That is – what if you change ISPs? You might find better pricing with another ISP, or you might move to a new location that is not served by that ISP. What happens to your email address, or even your saved email in that case?
Using ISP-provided email is never a good choice for your professional email address.
Shared or Fun / Funky Email Addresses
Using an email address that appears to be shared with a partner, a child, anyone – even if that person never actually uses it – is a major no-no. It’s a big red flag of insecurity! Specifically, I see addresses like “smithfamily@email” or “johnandliz@email” – addresses that indicate someone else might be reading them. Think about it this way: suppose your lawyer’s email address was “Nancyandhubby@email” — would you be comfortable sharing your legal concerns? Probably not.
This is also true for the fun and funky email addresses like “Grannybakescookies@email” or “Carollikestoknit@email” – anything that is not about your work but is, instead, very personal. It’s just not professional.
If you share an email address, or if you’re using something that’s just “fun” or too personal – it’s time right now (using the instructions below) to set up a separate, professional email address for your advocacy work.
AOL and Yahoo Email Addresses Are Problematic
Let me start by saying I used to LOVE AOL email. I had my first email address is 1993! I still have it! But never will I ever use it for professional purposes.
The problems with AOL began about 10 years ago when Verizon purchased AOL and arbitrarily decided to stop delivering some email – sometimes confusing spam with regular email and just opting to stop much business-related email – randomly. Overkill. APHA’s members who had been receiving our email for years just, all of a sudden, stopped receiving it. It wasn’t in spam folders – it was no where to be found. When they contacted AOL, they were told to get used to it. There was nothing those members could do to receive our email – or other professional email.
Still today there are problems with using AOL professionally. That non-delivery situation has never been properly rectified. We know of advocates who have not received requests from potential clients – even existing clients! That’s no way to run a railroad.
By the way, over the years the same sorts of problems have been experienced with Verizon and Yahoo email. Why? Because Verizon (an ISP – see above) owns both AOL and Yahoo. The same problematic delivery algorithms are used by all three.
So – as a sister site to APHA, we here at PracticeUP! recommend that you instead use a different professional email address. Otherwise, you will never be sure you are receiving all email that’s important to you – not from professional services or from clients. You cannot risk that. Here is more information about moving away from AOL email.
How to Create Your Most Professional Email Address
If you already have a website, or even just a web address, then ask your web person to help you set up your email address with that extension, too. If my web address is JaneAdvocatesAdvocacy.com – then my email address can easily be Jane@JaneAdvocatesAdvocacy.com
Your web host will usually let you set up many email addresses this way, and it’s a very professional, well respected, and well-expected way of handling email. I should point out, though, that it may not be HIPAA secure. If you seek HIPAA secure email, then check out what APHA has to say about the ways to set up encrypted email.
If you don’t yet have an email address to use professionally, then set up one that at least sounds professional at one of the services that is good for deliverability. Gmail or Outlook email are best. iCloud is OK. There are others, too, including some of the spam-resistant email addresses (although even they may have deliverability problems – do a little research.) Some of the spam-resistant email providers even offer secure / encrypted email – and those can be great choices for advocates. Find a list of email providers here.
As professionals, it’s important we appear professional, and ensure clients that we are professional, too. Your first foot forward may be your email address – the front door to your work – so be sure you impress accordingly.
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