Thirty years ago when I got my first business cards for my first business, I thought it was the best $20 I ever spent. It made me feel professional and assured that whoever got my card had all the pertinent information about me and what I was selling. That’s still true, but now even more important is your signature at the end of your email. It’s advertising that is allowed by all but the strictest of email groups or message boards. It often remains attached to your emails—even when they are passed further—and that’s marketing!

The signature file, also called a sig file, comes after your closing on every email even the ones you forward on. It should not be more than about seven to ten lines long. It should contain at least your full name with appropriate credentials, your business name, your web site address and your phone number. I also include my street address and my email address—just in case the body of my email is detached from the header (the top part of an email that includes the to/from info).

Don’t be tempted to leave out the phone number. In a recent column on the website Poynter.org, a website for journalists, one of the top ten beefs was emailed press releases with no contact phone numbers. You sure don’t want to mess up a contact with the press. You also don’t want to delay prospective client who just prefers real conversation. And if you want me to call you, don’t presume I can find your number in the scraps of paper on MY desk!

Store more than one sig file in your mail manager (Outlook, AOL, Eudora, or what ever program you use to view your mail). I have three:

  • a standard default one that includes everything I mentioned above,
  • one that refers to me in my role as CHADD support group leader. It includes links to the schedules, directions and appropriate CHADD disclaimers, and
  • one for the official correspondence as editor of Circle.

I can choose to use none. But that must be a conscious decision.

If you think you might be too big or too busy to be bothered with a sig file, check out the website of the Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, KY. They have a great technology site. You’ll find simple instructions of how they show kids in grade K-12 to set up sig files using Outlook. Their list of what should be included is a bit shorter than mine, but not much. And their information is for little kids!