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~*~THE NAME GAME~*~

What is your most valuable business-related possession?

A number of things come to mind, but number one on the list is your most unique posession of all: Your name.

Your name and by extension your reputation, are quite fragile. The most seemingly minor of incidents can become the catalyst for a large problem. Online, reputations are forged or damaged with the speed of an e-mail. A mailing list here, a bulletin board there, and before you know it glowing reports or negative rumors spread. Due to the mass popularity of texting and e-mail, communicating solely through the written word can be tricky at times. We are unable to see facial expressions, hear laughter or tone of voice and inflection. Sometimes a simple message can be misread, misjudged, misinterpreted, which can then lead to the start of something big. On the other hand, that same simple message might just be the start of a new relationship.

~Branding~

One of the key terms in business is "branding". Establishing your business name as a unique and viable entity, a known commodity, along with a credible reputation.

When your name is seen or heard, what do people think of? What does your name stand for? Is your name well-known? If so, what is your name known for? What is it that you want your name to say?

"Branding" will not happen overnight. All aspects of your business will come into play as you work to establish your name. Advertising, marketing, quality control, customer relations, designing, and salesmanship have featured roles. Also figuring prominently are direction, goals and objectives, and a plan for the future : A name is built step-by-step, one-to-one, and must be formed on a solid foundation. You need to know who you are, where you are going, how you plan to get there, and what you will do when you arrive. The businesses that try to become *branded* overnight run the risk of inviting the opposite of what they are trying to attract. A name can become known quickly... but known for what? It takes time to establish contacts and build relationships. First impressions may be right or wrong - But only time will tell.

~Familiarity Breeds Contempt, or Comfort?~

One of the most popular ways to become known as an expert in your field and establish friendships and contacts online is through posting to e-mail discussion lists, newsgroups, and bulletin boards.

Points to keep in mind when participating in online discussion groups:

Provide information or ask relevant questions, contribute to an ongoing *thread* or discussion, do not post to a group simply to promote your business.

Relegate your promotional material to your signature, and keep your signature within the guidelines of each list. Generally four to six lines are considered the maximum.

Do not "flame". Discussion groups are open forums for all points of view, never insult anyone because you disagree with their opinions. Treat everyone with consideration and respect, remember that at one time you too were just starting out.

For more e-mail discussion group *netiquette* guidelines :

Netiquette

Find e-mail discussion groups at :

YahooGroups

Topica

Find bulletin boards at:

Delphi Forums

~Your E-Signature is Valuable "Real Estate"~

You've got mail! And along with each one of those e-mail messages comes a little plot of undeveloped property right at the bottom of the page. Your signature. Alot of valuable information can be packed into that small space: Name, web site url, new product info... Anything that you want others to know about. Build on this "property", have a variety of signatures. Keep your signatures short, interesting and informational, never use signature space as one looong advertisement. A little bit of decoration - squiggles, dots, or dashes, can make your "property" stand out and call attention to what you want noticed. Things to be avoided : Dollar signs ($), many exclamation points (!) and all CAPS .

Online, your business name can become "branded" in a relatively short span of time compared to the brick-and-mortar world alone. If used wisely, the no-cost avenues mentioned can help you in achieving your business goals and objectives.

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"Carol Gunkel / Professional Crafters.com The Craft Business Information Network all rights reserved.This article may not be reprinted, all or in part, without the author's express permission.

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Comments:

Excellent article :)

-- critter