Sunday, August 18, 2002

On the move?


Maintain your contact information

By Rhonda Abrams
Gannett News Service

        Cleaning my office recently, I came across stack after stack of my old business cards. These were cards I can no longer use because my phone number, address or e-mail address changed. Some of those cards were expensive to print, too.

        But even worse than the cost of the cards is the possibility that clients - or potential clients - who would like to reach me can't find me.

        It used to be that your contact information changed only when you moved. These days, however, with so many different ways to communicate, the chance that some of your information will change is greatly increased. Some things are out of your control, such as when the phone company changes an area code. But much of your other contact data, you can keep stable even if you're not:

        E-mail address/Web site: My sister's e-mail address changed three times over the last few years. Her Internet provider was US West, so her e-mail address was something like rhondassister@uswest.net. They were bought by Qwest, which meant an e-mail address change. Then Qwest sold its Internet business to Microsoft, which meant another change. It's time to stop the madness.

        The solution is to get your own domain name. You'll keep both your Web site address and your e-mail address stable. My domain name, for instance, is rhondaonline.com. Preceded by www., it's the address of my Web site, and it's also the second half of my e-mail: Rhond@rhondaonline.com.

        To get your own domain name, go to an online domain name provider, such as www.netsol.com or www.register.com. The cost is around $35 a year. Important: Make certain that you, not your Internet provider, are listed as the administrative contact when you register

        Phone numbers: If you're willing to pay, you can keep a phone number virtually forever, even if you move. Just ask your phone company about remote-location call forwarding. With that service, when a call comes to your old phone number, it is immediately forwarded to your new number. You pay any long-distance or toll charges, but your customer never knows they've called a new location.

        Cell phone numbers: I chose a cell phone service that treats all phone calls - local or long distance - the same. So if and when I ever move, there's no reason for me to change cell phone numbers, at least in terms of the calls I make. The hassle of losing your number if you change service providers is about to end, with a new policy requiring companies to let customers take their numbers with them when they go.

        Mailing address: Easy. Get a private mailbox from a company such as Mailboxes USA, where you can keep an address as long as you pay the bill. If you move, they'll forward your mail. Don't be tempted to get a postal box from a U.S. post office; most of them won't accept deliveries from private delivery companies and they don't offer the range of support services, such as calling you if a package arrives.

        Rhonda Abrams is the author of “The Successful Business Organizer,” “Wear Clean Underwear,” and “The Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies.” To receive Rhonda's free business tips newsletter, register at www.RhondaOnline.com.

       



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