Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Our Email Address Follows Us Everywhere - Make Sure It Can"

One of the most important pieces of personal information we possess is our email address. This has replaced the mailing address and even the phone number as the most viable way of contacting someone.

We subscribe to email lists, we get newsletters and email updates from news sources, we have customers and clients (existing and potential) reach out to us this way, and we receive notifications (some we request and others seem to find us).

The important thing to remember is because the email address (or addresses, for those who have more than one) is a very personal way of allowing the outside world to connect with and engage us.

As aging in place professionals (or any other type of businessperson), we must have a reliable way of having people connect with us. We cannot afford to break the circuit. Just like an open switch on an electrical path, a broken water line, or a street that used to be continuous that now doesn't connect through a neighborhood, we cannot allow for people trying to contact us by email to be thwarted. This is not the same as unsubscribing to specific emails or lists or blocking spam. We're talking about not receiving email that we intend to reach us.

We used to rely on our mailing address as the constant in how people could reach us. If we traveled for a few months, went away to school or the service, or otherwise were absent from out regular place of residence for a short period of time, we could always depend on bills, statements, magazine subscriptions, correspondence, and other important information reaching us at that address. If we weren't there, it would be waiting for us when we returned (even with a hold or temporary suspension that we might apply).

The same would be true for parcels or express deliveries that we might request or expect.

There was no need to forward our mail each time we were going to be gone for a few weeks (sometimes longer) at a time. We knew that our regular (aka permanent) address would allow mail, parcels, and other information to reach us. It would either be there upon our return, or we would have someone tell us us what had arrived or even forward specific pieces of mail to a location we were at that time.

When we moved permanently to another address, we would notify the post office that our important (first class) mail should be forwarded to our new address and that the former one should no longer be used. We will notify magazine publishers and others to use our new address, Still, advertising and solicitation mail will still come to that former address for years.

This brings us to our email address. When it is tied to a company, and that is the main or only way of having people contact us, we can easily lose touch with the outside world when we leave that company. Unlike forwarding our mail with the post office, there is no such provision for email. Send something to a nonexistent or nonworking email address and it gets bounced (undelivered) if a service was used. It also could just float around in cyberspace forever.

For these reasons, an alternate, permanent email address - that people know because we tell them - needs to be used. Have a corporate address if this is required by the employer, but also have a gmail, yahoo, hotmail, outlook, or similar address that is not going to change locations just because we do. We might even change the name of our business, reinvent ourselves, re-brand our company, or start and additional one. When this happens, it's easy for people to use an old or outdated address - especially people we haven't contacted in a while. A public address (gmail and others) stays with us. Our mail will always find us.

Many years ago, having a public address was a sign that one did not have or could not afford their own domain name to use for their email. Now, it's a great backup plan and insurance policy - to guard against interruptions in service because we move, change businesses, or otherwise can't be reached at the main domain. It also provides some additional security benefits.

The main thing is to provide continuity so that people can continue to reach us by email no matter where we are or what name it may have on the office where we are at any given moment.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.