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7 Reasons Professionals Shouldn’t Use Public Email Accounts

Kate Gitman 6 months ago - in Career

Most people use a public email account to stay in touch. Public email providers like Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL offer free, easy-to-use accounts that are perfectly acceptable if you want to catch up with your friends and family, but these accounts are not such a good fit for professionals. It may seem harmless enough to use one of these public email accounts for work-related messages, but this isn’t a risk-free way to conduct business. Here are the main issues with public email accounts, and suggests some of the available alternatives.

1. Public email domains create the wrong image

A public email account doesn’t create the sort of image that a professional person should have. If you send an email from Hotmail or Yahoo, it’s clear that you are using a free-to-use account, and your business connections may wonder why you aren’t using a corporate domain name. Public email accounts look lazy. It may seem to your colleagues or customers that you have just grabbed the first account that you could get your hands on, without really paying attention to what this means to your personal brand. In some cases, recipients will just get rid of your message because they assume that it’s spam. Is that how you want your colleagues and customers to think of you?

2. Professional user names are now hard to find

A professional email address should follow a very simple format. Your email address should contain your full name, followed by the company domain. If you choose to use a service like Hotmail, you will probably struggle to find an unused email address that allows you to use only your full name. With billions of accounts already in place, you will almost certainly have to use abbreviations, numbers or just initials to create an address that sounds remotely like you. Your professional contacts will not appreciate an email that comes from an obscure address, and may simply ignore it. Do you really want an email address that nobody recognizes?

3. Emails from public accounts often go straight to junk folders

Public email accounts suffer terribly from spam or junk messages, and many corporate email servers now filter out these messages. In order to protect business integrity, large companies now often stop these messages arriving in their users’ inboxes. With a Hotmail or Google email account, you could send a very important message to a client and he or she would never even see it. Organizations associate public email accounts with viruses and malware, so you don’t really want to taint your communications in this way.

4. Public email accounts are susceptible to malicious attacks

You cannot guarantee that public email providers will protect the contents of your account. Hackers continue to attack public email systems because the level of security tends not to match what they find with private, corporate email accounts. If you send personal or confidential information via a public email account, a hacker may successfully intercept the message. You could even find that your message carries a virus or malware of its own. A business colleague or customer will not appreciate picking up a virus from your email, and with a public account the risk of this is higher. Is this really how you want to conduct business?

5. It’s harder to integrate public email accounts into other systems

Messaging systems are increasingly sophisticated, and professional people now use a variety of communication methods. You cannot normally integrate a public email account with other corporate systems, which means that instant messages, voice messages, video conferencing and other tools must all work independently. If you need to talk to a customer in another country or time zone, or if you need to talk to a group of people at once, a public email account may not give you the tools that you need. It’s important that your clients and colleagues see that you are making the most of technology, and a free-to-use email account probably won’t give this impression.

6. You should never mix business with pleasure

It’s rarely a good idea to mix business with pleasure, and this certainly applies when it comes to your email messages. If you use a public email account for business and personal messages, it’s really only a matter of time before something goes wrong. It’s just too easy to send somebody the wrong message, with potentially disastrous consequences. What’s more, if you use a public email account, you may need to have it open in front of a client or colleague. Do you really want your business contacts to see an email account full of advertising and personal messages?

7. Public email accounts are not always reliable

Public email providers don’t charge for the service, which is why most people start to use these accounts. The trouble with this situation is that there is no agreement in place for availability of your account. If you are unable to get access to your email account due to system problems, you may find it hard to keep in touch with a crucial client or colleague, and you have no control over when the provider will restore access. Many accounts have a storage limit too, which means that you need to keep clearing old messages out, and if you decide to store old messages, you have no idea if the provider will keep them as long as you need them.

Consider alternative email solutions

Although public email accounts are generally free, there are a lot of risks from using these tools for business. The good news is that professionals have plenty of other less risky options. If you are self-employed or you have other professional interests away from your employer, it’s easy to find cheap, feature-rich, fully hosted email account services for small businesses and professionals. With these services, you will normally pay a small monthly fee for multiple accounts, each under a single domain name that you choose. If you pay a third-party to host your website, the package will normally include a free email account, which gives you all your online business needs for one single monthly fee.

Public email accounts are great for keeping in touch with your friends and family, but you need more professional tools for any work-related correspondence. Carefully consider the risks of using your current email provider, and think about switching to a fully hosted professional service if you want to make sure that you always give the right impression.