It’s all in the name

What your e-mail address says about you

Did it ever occur to you that your email address could be presenting you in a bad light?

Last year, 31 million emails were sent each day. According to the International Data Corporation, by 2006, this number is expected to reach 60 billion, while the number of worldwide email addresses is expected to increase from 505 million in 2000 to 1.2 billion in 2005. Subscribers to email providers such as Yahoo! and AOL are also increasing, with Hotmail the market leader with over three million members. With all the spam (electronic junk mail) received daily in most in-boxes, many email users are growing tired of using the popular, and free, hotmail, yahoo, or AOL services. In fact, in the corporate arena, employees assess how important a company, or individual, is from their email address. More attention is likely to be given to emails using a company’s domain name (ceo@microsoft.com) rather than an email using an ISP’s domain name (ceo@inco.net.lb). Even riskier is using free email services (ceo@hotmail.com). “I consider an email message more credible when it has a corporate domain name, rather than a hotmail domain, which I usually discard,” said Rami Majzoub, account director for Levant and Egypt at Reuters Middle East. “ Unfortunately, some Lebanese companies, even well known banks, still use their ISP’s domain name, which shows a lack of seriousness and awareness on their part,” he added. According to Michel Kilzi, general manager at Internet Facilities Group, the reason most corporate employees in the Arab world still use their personal emails for work related issues is because of the lack of awareness and widespread internet penetration. “Whether it is a small, medium sized or huge corporation, all the emails I receive from Europe and the US use the domain address of the corporation,” said Kilzi. “Since most companies have a certain amount of control and restrictions on their corporate emails, every employee separates between their business and personal email accounts. But this is not the case when it comes to the Arab countries. Sometimes I receive an email from Saudi Arabia, Syria or Kuwait from a CEO using his hotmail or yahoo account and I don’t take them as seriously – it’s as if they don’t have a company profile or business card,” added Kilzi.

One thing is for sure, the lack of corporate domain usage is not due to financial or economic constraints. Most companies can register a domain name on the net for as low as $25 per year, and with hosting fees, the cost could reach a maximum of $100. “In Lebanon, 60% of companies have their own domain name, 5% still use hotmail and yahoo, and the rest use their ISP’s domain,” said Rita Hayek, sales and marketing manager at Terravision. “Lebanese companies understand the importance of having their own domain name. It is usually students or small companies that usually use hotmail and yahoo, and they are probably unaware of the importance of a domain name.” Lebanese companies can also register a .lb domain for about LL900,000, or $600. However, some find the procedure too complicated, as they need to register their company trademark with the government before receiving their domain registration. “We have seen many Lebanese companies register .com because they don’t want to go through the lengthy process of registering for the .lb,” said Rim El Kady, IT unit manager at AUB. Companies should especially take care about the email addresses of its employees because, according to analysts, a domain name speaks volumes. For example, it can determine how a corporation treats its employees. If a company uses the full name of the employee in the email address (like, johnsmith@companyname.com), it shows that the organization views its employees as independent entities that provide added value to the company, and as such, respects their individuality. If only the position is used (as in marketing@companyname.com), the company is considered more impersonal and viewed as valuing company divisions and apparatuses over personnel. “Sometimes, it is easier for the IT department to create an impersonal address so that when an employee leaves they don’t have to go through the hassle of changing names, adding new ones and deleting old ones,” one IT administer explained. A third method adopted by companies is incorporating the initials of an employee followed by numbers (e.g., abc101@companyname.com). In such a case, analysts say the company views its personnel objectively and in a hierarchical manner, while recognizing that they are in charge of services and activities.

But for those of you not wanting to be pigeon holed by a company domain name, or wanting to stand out from the hoards of millions using hotmail and yahoo accounts, do not fear – there is a domain out there for everyone. If you want to show you have a funny bone, you could try yourname@hehe.com. Not really in a social mood? Well then yourname@antisocial.com is just right for you. Whoever said ‘what’s in name’ obviously never had email.

(Box) Revealing messages: Is your position affecting the way you write your emails?

According to an article in The Guardian, your position in a company could influence the way you write your emails. For example, did you know that the higher up you are, the more likely your emails are full of informalities. Since, big honchos have already made it, so to speak, they don’t feel the need to impress through meticulous email writing. In fact, senior executives rarely use corporate jargon and are more likely to talk to a person face to face. Furthermore, the powers that be are less like to use the cc option.

For the middlemen, the story is a bit different because they have a lot to lose or gain. If you’re only half way up the corporate ladder, you probably write lengthy emails to try and impress the higher ups. Middle management also like to sign off with signatures, which include name, position and sometimes a quote even. At the entry level? Well, in that case, according to the Guardian, you like to crowd messages with emoticons, like smiley (?), sad (?), or anxious faces (:S) that MSN or Yahoo messenger have made so popular. Being at the lower end of the corporate food chain also means that you have time to send conversational emails to colleagues, mainly not work related of course. Low status employees are, not surprisingly, more likely to send all those annoying jokes and forwards.

Who knew an email could say so much?

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