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Personalizing Your e-Mail Address

A generic e-mail address just won't do if you want to look professional. Here's how to get an address that's uniquely you.

Do you attend conferences and networking events to promote AOL, Comcast or Earthlink? No--so why dish out business cards flashing an e-mail address provided by your ISP? You don't give clients the AOL phone number, so why should your e-mail address be any different?

You're likely always looking for ways to present a professional image, and a personalized e-mail address is an easy and inexpensive way to do just that. An address like yourname@yourcompany.com just feels right, doesn't it?

When I founded the teen career show Streaming Futures three years ago, the first thing I did was make sure my e-mail address was joel@streamingfutures.com. That way every time I spoke to educators and students, I was able to give them my contact information and promote my Web address. (Those of you with tight budgets will be glad to know that I had virtually no money at the time and couldn't afford to pay high fees to a hosting company to host the e-mail account, so I figured out a way to make it work for free. Read on!)

There are a few ways you can customize your e-mail. First, if you already have a Web site up and running, contact your webhost and find out whether they support POP3 e-mail accounts. Some hosts supply e-mail accounts as part of the webhosting contract. Others may charge a few dollars extra each month. If your host can provide you with a personalized POP3 account, seize the opportunity and set up your e-mail in a client such as Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express.

If your webhost doesn't support POP3 accounts, request that they forward all e-mails that hit your domain name (anything@yourcompany.com) to the e-mail address provided by your ISP. All webhosts can do this and shouldn't charge you anything to do it.

Once e-mails are being forwarded to your actual e-mail address, you have to set up your e-mail client to make it appear that you are responding from your company address although it doesn't actually exist as a solidified POP3 account. To do this, you must modify your e-mail account settings. In Outlook Express, go to Tools > Accounts > Mail > Properties, and change your return address from your ISP address (in my case jholland@dynamichorizon.net) to your company address, joel@streamingfutures.com. Now when you send e-mails, they will be sent over your ISP mail server but will appear to come from yourname@yourcompany.com.

Finally, if your webhost refuses to forward your e-mail or you run your own webserver and don't want to purchase and maintain a mail server program, you can outsource the e-mail to a third-party company by modifying the MX Records (mail exchange records). Everyone.net will host your outsourced e-mail on their servers for free, allowing you to log in over the Internet similar to Hotmail--except it's yourname@yourcompany.com. Full instructions on modifying the MX Records are provided when you register at everyone.net.

So take your company up a rung on the ladder to professionalism, and set up a personalized e-mail address today.


Joel Holland, age 18, has been starting and running businesses since he was 12 and is currently the chief marketing officer for Nortel Networks Kidz Online, a digital studio that creates educational content about technology for schools nationwide and in Canada. Holland is ranked in the top 10 nationwide for his marketing skills through DECA, a national organization with more than 300,000 teen members, and was named Business Student of the Year by the McLean, Virginia, Chamber of Commerce. To contact Holland, write to joel@joelkentholland.com

Joel Holland, 25, is the founder and CEO of Footage Firm in Reston, Va.

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