A few days ago, I sent an email to 94 friends who work at various Silicon Valley companies. It was a research project and I had to check off their replies, so I printed out the list of names and email addresses.

I noticed that most of them had Gmail or Yahoo email addresses. Few of them use their corporate email accounts.

This morning, I counted. Of the 94, only five use their corporate accounts. The rest use either gmail, yahoo, or their personal URLs (such as the way I use andreas.com for my email).

There are several reasons for this:

  • Continuity. People move around. Hardly anyone stays at a company for more than two years anymore. It’s better to have a personal address that you can keep. The same with phone numbers; hardly anyone uses their office desk phone. Everyone uses their personal cell phones.
  • Privacy. Most of the mid-size and large companies scan email for trigger words (“my resume”, “my boss is an idiot”, “copy of the company financials” and so on.) If you use words like these, your email pops up on your boss’s screen for review. So people use their corporate accounts only for business and their personal email for all other communication.
  • Personal Connection. If you only have Stephen J. Pinkerfish’s email address at Google (spinkfish@google.com), then he’s only a business contact to you. But if he gives you his personal email address (huggybear24@yahoo.com), then he’s your friend. And if he replies at 11:34 pm on a Saturday night, then he’s really your friend.

So, if you’re at a company, set up your own personal email account. Use that for your “real communication”. But don’t use huggybear 🙂