Money Tips and Protecting Your Firm’s Image

This month, I’d like to address two timely topics: how to save money when renewing your domain registration, and how to use social networking sites to screen potential employees and protect your firm’s reputation.

Domain Savings

My domain name (KrengelMedia.com), more commonly known as a Web address, was recently up for renewal. The domain registration company I had registered it through, Network Solutions (NetSol.com), was kind enough to notify me a “couple” of times that it was coming due (think magazine renewal notices!)

Now, it’s important to renew your domain. Web addresses are renewed in one-year periods. You can even register your domain name for up to 100 years! Yet, I’m always amazed at the number of businesses that allow their Web addresses to lapse. Unfortunately, allowing this lapse has far-greater-reaching repercussions than not renewing your magazine subscription on time.

When you forget to renew your Web site address, your Web site will no longer function. People coming to your site will not be able to get information about your firm, and more likely than not, they will not be back later.

This can also affect your search-engine listing status, and if your e-mail has your Web address in it, your e-mail won’t work.
Often, domains aren’t re-registered not because someone forgot to do so, but because they forgot the name of the company they registered their Web address with. So, when the bill shows up, they think it’s bogus and it gets thrown out.

When my Network Solutions bill showed up, it said, “Renew today to take advantage of our best savings and secure your presence online.” Okay, well that makes sense. It was the cost that didn’t compute for me. If I renewed for 100 years it was $9.99 per year. (Considering I’d be 140 years old at that point, I decided that $9.99 wasn’t such a deal.) If I opted for only a year, it was $34.99.

I don’t know about you, but I always like to save a couple of bucks when I can, and this price seemed awfully high. So, I went to GoDaddy.com and they were offering domain transfers for about $6.99 per year. A domain transfer simply means that a new domain registration company would host my domain. All domains need a host. Just as you would need a plot of land to build a home on, you need a host to place your cyber domain on.

Curious, I picked up the phone and gave Network Solutions a call. They confirmed that their cost was $34.99 a year. When I related that GoDaddy.com was offering to accept domain transfers at $28 less per year than their cost, I ended up getting my domain registered with Network Solutions for under $10 per year.

It’s definitely important to keep your Web address current – but you should also know that there are many options out there for doing this, so don’t be afraid to shop around to save money.

Facebook & Myspace

On another matter, for kitchen and bath dealers researching potential employees, or just concerned about the image of their company, it might be a good idea to become familiar with two social Web sites: Facebook.com and MySpace.com
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I have Google alerts on topics from “Cabinetry” to “Skiing.” I’m always amazed when I receive those alerts and it takes me to some college kid’s Facebook.com or MySpace.com entry.

Both these sites are social networking sites primarily used by high school, college and post-college-aged kids. That said, they have grown in popularity with the older crowd lately, as even the politicos are getting into it. Think of the sites as online diaries of sorts where people can post their photos and write about what they’ve been up to lately and then friends can post responses in reply.

Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more entries of this type showing up on my Google alerts in relation to our industry.
You can put Facebook.com and MySpace.com to use for you in at least two ways.

The first is to search them for information on potential hires. Why would you want to do this? In a recent Google alert, I found a link to a page posted by a college student on a social networking site. In between his poor grammar and a picture of him partying on a beach during 2007’s Spring Break was information about the work co-ops (internships) he was being offered for this summer. He mentioned both companies by name – and one of them happens to be a major cabinet manufacturer based in Minnesota.

Researching potential employees is going to be a bit different on each site. MySpace is a little more user friendly. You can do a preliminary check on a name by just going to MySpace.com and typing a name in the search blank. If you find the name of your potential hire there, you’ll want to go through the site’s sign up process in order to be able to access more information.
On Facebook.com, you have to sign up prior to doing practically anything. It seems like they’ll only let you sign in if you have an e-mail address from Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail or MSN. (So, if you want to delve into the world of Facebook, you’ll want to sign up for an e-mail address from one of the prior companies.)

Incidentally, more and more college and employment recruiters are checking out social networking sites prior to making their final decisions on candidates. By checking out these sites before hiring someone, you’ll be in with the majority of employers, not the minority.

On Facebook, you can do a search by company. At the time this KBDN issue went to print, eight kitchen and bath companies were listed. I clicked on several of them. One of the young women who listed her kitchen and bath design firm employer had a photo way more revealing than anything Miss New Jersey recently was being blackmailed over! For that reason, I suggest you check out your employees’ listings on these sites. After all, if you’ve gone to all the time, trouble and expense of building a company and career, you really should be aware of how your business is being portrayed online.

Read past columns on Internet Connections by Karla Krengel, and send us your comments about this story and others by logging onto Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Web site at www.kitchenbathdesign.com.

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