I tell it like it is, which means sometimes I tell stories that involve real people; okay, I always tell stories that involve real people. I often hope that if it's a lesson post, like this one is about to be, that the person accepts it as it is, if they actually decide to stop by and read it. I say it that way because I run into a lot of people who say they're going to check out the website and the blog, then don't do either. I'm not that way, and thus the inspiration for this post.

Last night I went to a networking event in downtown Syracuse. It was an event recognizing a new magazine called Syracuse Woman. I know a couple of people associated with it, including one that was interviewed, so I thought I'd stop by to support it, even if only for a short period of time.

I happen to meet someone there who started talking to me about her business. During the conversation she said that she was hoping to grow her business but that some things had slowed down and she was looking to make the next step. I offered her the chance to participate in my interview series of small business people as a way to garner at least a little bit of publicity. She said she'd love to do it.

Today I sent her an email with the standard questions. I said she could answer them however she wanted and that if she included an image I'd pop that on the site as well. Within a minute I got an email back from where she has her email service saying I needed to click on the link to prove the email wasn't spam.

I didn't click on the link. I never click on links that come back to me, especially when it pertains to business. To me, anyone that's making it even slightly difficult to reach them for business purposes, especially if it's more in their interest than mine, isn't totally serious about their business.

Of course this leads me into the opportunity to talk about business email in the first place. It's interesting how many people who say they're in business don't have business email addresses. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if your "business" email address has "aol.com" or "gmail.com" or any other service other than, well, your own hosted business link, you're probably not being taken all that seriously by others.

If you're looking to only do small business then having a generic email address is fine. If I'm contacting someone to plow my driveway over the winter and he's using a twcny.rr.com account, I can live with that. But if someone is looking at a long term or high priced contract with you, they're going to be put-off with something like that. I mean, why would someone want to trust you with their $50,000 project if you can't even see your way into spending less than $60 a year for a proper domain name and a host that will allow you to create a business specific email address, whether or not you put up a webpage (that's something for another time)?

I always tell people to think about the people they want to work with and how they want those people to represent themselves to you. Then think about how you can represent yourself in the same fashion, within limits. If you can't afford $700 shoes then get the best you can afford and keep them looking neat. Don't price yourself into poverty, but don't price yourself out of looking like a professional either.