In today's business world, a professional Internet presence is no longer a luxury, it's an absolute necessity. My top recommendations to clients and business associates are:
- Purchase a domain (i.e., weirdingword.com, honeycuttconsulting.us, novabcc.org, etc.).
In fact, see what domains are available before settling on the business name. With domains as cheap as $8, there's no excuse not to put a claim on the domain of your choice. At minimum, you should purchase domains for .com and .net. And, if there's a chance that a typing error might land your clients elsewhere, purchase similarly named domains as well.
- Set up an e-mail address using the domain.
Once you have a domain, put it to good use. Give every message a professional touch by creating an e-mail address (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.). And, use the help menu on your domain registrar's website to learn how to upload your messages into the e-mail application on your computer. That way, you won't have to go on the Web to check e-mail all the time, and it's easier to manage messages.
- Use a signature.
Have you ever dug through your e-mail messages looking for someone's contact information only to discover that you've got nothing but an e-mail address? What's more you need to cancel the meeting the two of you scheduled that's just an hour away. E-mail signatures are truly practical, useful features. However, there's also the added benefit of promoting your business by including a tagline, website and/or social networking link.
- Build a website.
How many times have people asked you, "Do you have a website?" In this world of short attention spans and fast-paced lives, people want to go online, quickly review what your business offers, and then make a decision. Just 5 years ago, it may not have been a measure of legitimacy. But today, a business owner without a website probably isn't doing much business. Help potential customers discover your products/services and take the next step in the sales process by making it as easy as possible to self-educate.
And then there's that business about promotion and publicity, and the SEO thing, too...but that's intermediate level.