Your Image On The Internet
This article is written in an attempt to explain to business people the importance of image and how easy it is to create a bad image on the internet. It may or may not apply to you. But it is information that you should have.
YouThe internet presents you an incredible opportunity to develop a good business with little more than a computer and an internet connection.
But even though that is enough to get started, you must acknowledge the limitations of and state of internet selling.
The internet is cold, impersonal and populated by fraudulent people. And fraud on the internet is so rampant, that you are considered a fraud until you prove otherwise.
Are these harsh words? Not at all. What are you thinking right now? Do you really trust what you are reading? Are you looking to find an angle? Are you waiting for me to ask for your email address or credit card information? Don't you want some assurance that "this is real'? Will I deliver products if I offer them to you?
People will think the same way about you. So the first thing that you must do is to create a sense of trust on the part of people that contact you via the internet.
And you do that on the internet just the way you do it in the real world.
So let's start from the top.
People judge books by the cover. On the internet and in real life. Perception is reality. Whether we like it or not, that is the case.
Your personal appearance is your cover. When people meet you, your appearance makes the first impression. You then modify that as you interact with them.
Responsible business people generally take a lot of care with their personal appearance. But then when they get on the internet, many of them present themselves terribly.
Most people understand that a web site should be professionally done for it is in reality your brochure. It is your advertising and it must look good.
But then what about their correspondence? And what about your correspondence?
If you start a business, don't you immediately think about getting some stationary and envelopes? And don't you get some business cards.
And when you write letters, don't you write complete sentences and check the spelling?
What would you think if I sent you letters in envelopes from a hotel on hotel stationery? And what would you think if I sent you letters full of incomplete, ungrammatical sentences with incorrect spelling? And what if the letters were sent from a Post Office Box with no office address shown.
Now look at it from the internet side. I will use one specific example to make a point and expand from there. It concerns a hotmail account. You may not use a hotmail account, but the concepts presented still apply to you.
You use a hotmail email address to send email without an email signature. And you write shorthand notes that are neither checked for grammar nor spelling. You use words like urgent and others that say that you must have a fast response. And you put some words in all capital letters.
What does it look like?
You agreed when you signed up for the hotmail account to not use it for business. So you have demonstrated that you cannot be trusted to follow the terms of an agreement.
You are using the equivalent of an internet Post Office Box. You are just a temporary.
Your poorly written text means that you are sloppy and probably irresponsible. Of course we have to consider that English may not be your native tongue. But that is generally obvious and if that is the case, your difficulty with the language is ignored.
But if you add the words urgent and demand a rapid response, one gets the sense that something is not right. Experience shows that these words are from people who are shopping and are not serious.
And capital letters are considered shouting on the internet. They are also considered patronizing and impolite. You generally irritate people when you use them. It is like they are stupid and can't read a regular letter.
You are not committed to your business or you would have spent the few dollars it would cost to have your own domain and email address in the form firstname.lastname@example.org . You are just a tire kicker and time waster or, quite possibly, a fraudster.
You are hiding your true identity. Don't tell me about protecting yourself from spam. A business person uses email aliases that allow one to do get the same spam protection. So it is likely that you are a fraud.
The recipient may not tell you this, but don't think that you are always going to be taken seriously until you prove yourself.
I don't want to limit this to hotmail. If you don't use an email address over your own domain name, you are not serious. You are a cheap tire kicker. Period.
AOL and Yahoo are also not professional business accounts. They don't present any better image that the one described above. And what is more, they, and hotmail, have spam filtering systems that filter on content. They often prevent you from getting business mail and they prevent your customers from getting mail from you.
The solution is simple. Get a professional account, set it up properly and be polite.
Start by sending properly written emails. It means that you don't send patronizing, arrogant emails with words in capital letters. And it means that you show the respect for the recipient by spell checking your work and being sure that your message is clear and specific. Treat the person the way you want to be treated.
Always remember, you are on the cold, impersonal internet that is filled with people scamming and stealing. YOU (note that I am shouting) have to prove yourself to your email recipients before they will trust you. And that applies even if you are a buyer. Web merchants are scammed by buyers every day. You have to prove who you are and that you are reliable.
Of course you want to save money on startup costs. That is understandable. But that does not mean that you have the right to be impolite and you don't have to put yourself in the class with frauds.
Writing your email like it is a business letter is free. You just have to respect your recipients.
It is your life and your business and you run it your way. But there are many of us out here that have business judgements to make and judge you by your actions and how you present yourself. Whether we are right or wrong is not the case. We make the decisions as to whether we want to buy from or sell to you. And you have to show us that we can trust you. It is the way it is in the world of business.
You might also be interested in reading Look Like You Are In Business
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