In the world of business, e-mail addresses are not all created equal. If you seek to create a positive impression and communicate business credibility, you will want to obtain a business e-mail address that is separate from your free e-mail accounts.
Although perfect for your personal life, free e-mail accounts that can be easily opened and just as easily closed arouse suspicion in the minds of potential customers when used for business. To illustrate, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com just does not create as credible a business impression as firstname.lastname@example.org
You will therefore need to obtain a domain name also known as a unique website name or a unique address on the Global Internet System. Domain names may end for instance in .com, .net, .biz and many others but the most common, corresponding with the Uganda territory on the Global Internet is .ug.
Although you could register your domain name with an overseas domain name registrar like GoDaddy.com for as little as $10 a year, in the interests of promoting Ugandan solutions, this article focuses on services available in Uganda. So once you choose a unique domain name, you may register it in one of three ways for about Shs80,000 a year.
• At www.registry.co.ug after completing a simple online form, your domain name and accompanying e-mail addresses will be accessible and ready for use within an hour of completing registration. Online payment must be made within three days via PayPal, MTN Mobile Money or Yo! (Airtel and MTN), beyond which your registered domain name will be deregistered and made available to the public.
• Through your Internet Service Provider (ISP) like Afsat, Airtel, Infocom, MTN, Orange, Warid or Utl among others; many of who also provide web hosting services. Fees vary by provider.
• Through service provider promotional packages like the current offer from Web Express (www.wedb.ug) where within five days, for Shs500,000 you obtain domain registration, website design and one year of website hosting.
After registering your domain name, if you did not obtain a web hosting service as part of your domain registration package be sure to obtain one, even if you do not intend to design a website right away. A web host (who could be your ISP) will house your e-mails and website on the internet, allowing you to begin using your business e-mail account even before you actually have a website.
A quick online search for web hosting companies in Uganda yields an incredibly long list of companies with charges that begin as low as Shs 50,000 a year, depending on website size, number of e-mail addresses and other factors.
Registering a domain name, obtaining e-mail addresses and a website are far from being cost prohibitive, especially when weighed against the tremendous benefits of credibility. Once your business e-mail account is established, check it no less than three times a day and to reinforce that positive impression, respond to all business e-mails within 24 hours.
Next week: Does planning make a difference?