Email is not going away as a means of contact in the business world. If anything, it will continue to pick up steam. Yet, I continue to see instances where rural folks go through several email addresses over the course of five years. You have the power to stop this!
What used to be the most irritating thing about switching cellular service providers? The number would switch. That’s in the past now, but I still remember the headache that would go along with disseminating your new phone number in a pre-Facebook world. It was awful.
Still, many rural folks are going through this heartache with their email address every couple years. Here’s what happens.
The provider comes out, gets you all set up with modems and such. Then he helps you set up your email for the first time. Our provider is Charter. I went through all the rigmarole just like you. Then I wrote down that secret little password and email address on a piece of paper and promptly forgot it. Here’s why.
Living in an urban area, we change providers more often than we vote. Company A rolls out a new-subscriber deal that's about 20% less than what you pay. So, you jump to Company B, get the reduced rate. Then, when it expires in a year, you go back to A. Here, A and B are Charter and AT&T. Though, I have to give credit to Charter. We recently had a problem and the tech stood up for us. After about 30 minutes on the phone, they gave us the new-subscriber rate. (Sort of just makes sense that you would take care of established customers.)
The point is, these provider email addresses are only good while you have the service. In rural America, you likely only have one choice. However, the problem comes in when your provider gets bought by an expanding one. Then that one gets bought again a couple years later. Different means, but the end is the same – your email address is only good for about two years.
Here’s how you avoid that. Go to Google (or Yahoo! or Aol or Hotmail, take your pick) and sign up for Gmail. Your address will be firstname.lastname@example.org. (Don’t email that address. I just made it up, but it probably belongs to someone.)
The point is your Gmail address will never change. Plus, it’s easier to log in from a web browser when you’re on the road. You also get a massive amount of free storage. Mine comes with 10 GB free. That’s a lot!
Still not sold? Here’s a dirty little secret. Many of you are already using Gmail; you just don’t know it. A lot of these small internet service providers dress up a version of Gmail and call it their own. But, your email is still being hosted on Google servers. Some of you may have noticed this when you plug in your info on a mobile device.
My parents are in this boat. They have Fidnet in their town of Rolla, Mo. It’s actually hosted by Google and looks nearly identical to Gmail. The only difference is when they load their email, they get bombarded by tons of weather, news and sports widgets. When I load my Gmail, I only get my email. So, on top of always having the same address, it’s much faster.
Oh, and if you’re worried how “Gmail” will look on a business card, don’t be. It’s quite acceptable today. I’ve seen many who own a small business use a Gmail address.