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Yes, There Really is a Freebie Santa Claus If you are a cynic when it comes to offers of free stuff, you are not alone. Everyone has had notions like ?there is no such thing as a free lunch? and ?if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is? drilled into their heads, and for good reason ? these things often hold water. On the flip side, there ARE actually lots of places you can score some decent free stuff, if you know where to look and are willing to devote some time to hunting them down. The key to getting the best free stuff with the least amount of hassle is to stick with that healthy cynicism but to also dipping your toe in the freebie pool little by little. But why would anyone give stuff away for free? It is certainly an obvious question, but if you stop to consider it for a moment, you can see that companies actually have a lot of motivation to give away free stuff. After all, if they give you something for free, you are bound to have a little soft spot for their company, and when you are ready to part with some cash, their product may near the top of your list. Also, by giving away free things, companies can convince people to try new products. You might not want to try a new kind of shampoo if you have to pay for it, but you?d certainly be willing to give a free sample a try. You may end up loving it and switching to that shampoo for good, turning you into a paying customer. Another reason a company might give you free stuff is to complete market research. This is where getting free things can get a little complicated for some people because the products may not cost you money, but the offer may cost you a little time. A company might ask you to take a survey of your buying habits before they give you a free offer, or they may ask you to provide feedback on a regular basis as you try their product for free. Some people balk at the time commitment required here, but for other people, filling out some paperwork is a small price to pay for some free stuff. Of course, to convert you into a customer or to communicate with you about market research, a company will have to contact you, which is complicated area number two for freebie lovers. You will almost always be forced to hand over your email address in order to cash in on a free offer, and that is a recipe for opening your inbox up to a barrage of spam (many companies sell your email address to offset the costs of their free promotions, which means the number of people soliciting you can go through the roof very quickly). If you want to avoid this downside of freebie hunting, set up a special email address specifically for your freebie deals. That way all of your spam goes to this one address and your regular email you use with family and friends remains free and clear. One final note of caution about free stuff online: a lot of scammers have hit on the idea of using pretend freebie offers to solicit personal information about people or to convince people to send them money. Don?t send money, even for postage, to a company you don?t know and never, ever give out personal information online. No reputable company is going to ask for your social security number or bank account details for a freebie offer, so don?t hand them out to anyone. When in doubt, skip it and move to the next freebie.

Web Hosting - Email Issues When you build a web site, you often provide a means for users to communicate with you. One of the most common 'add-ons' to a web site is the addition of some kind of email access. Email is used to sign users up for newsletters, provide communication for administrative issues and a hundred other uses. But, as everyone sadly knows, email problems can occur. Virus infection is among the most common, though the situation is actually better today than in the past. Huge efforts, and some progress, has been made over the past 10 years to reduce the number and severity of virus attacks. Hackers haven't surrendered, far from it. But they're on the defensive like never before. Many of those viruses were (and are) spread through email, usually in the form of email attachments. That's the source of the now-common advice never to open an attachment from someone you don't know. Professionals will often extend that advice to suggest you never open an attachment that's unexpected, even if it's from someone you know. Well-meaning, but computer-challenged friends often accidentally forward virus infected emails. Spam has taken over the top spot for email annoyances. It's estimated by various different professional sources that 92-97% of all email sent today is spam. While the definition varies, spam is generally regarded as any unwanted commercial email sent by someone whom the recipient doesn't know or have a business relationship with. Spam clutters email inboxes, requires people to sift through to find valid messages, and often contains offensive messages in some form. But, it's a fact of life and isn't going away anytime soon. Even though laws are in place, thousands of spammers continue to risk fines or jail for the chance of making money from that small percentage who will open the unwanted email. Other forms of email problems are even more severe for many web site owners. When the mechanisms fail that they rely on to send and receive messages to and from their users, that's a problem. Dealing with those problems can range from sending an email or instant message to an administrator, to tracking down the right person to get your site removed from a blacklist. Email is the communications vehicle of choice for millions everyday. When the system burps, someone has to take time to do something about it. Often, that means relying on a person who is already overburdened with too many issues to resolve. So, besides pointing out some sad facts or complaining, what's the point? All of the above shows just one more area you should look at when selecting a web host or deciding whether to move to another. Just as with server or network administration, companies vary in their ability to deal with email-related issues. Some are responsive and super-competent. Others, are simply indifferent or worse. And many are in between. Email administration, like server maintenance or network management, is a professional specialty. Skill in one does not necessarily mean quality work in another. Finding a web hosting company and/or system that has few email problems, and solves them quickly when they occur, is an important task. Spend some time researching who provides superior support in email. You'll be happy you did.

Important Networking Follow-Ups: How to Get Those Job Leads Calling When you leave a networking event, you may be buzzing at the prospects offered by all of those new contacts you made, but soon, the cold reality sets in. How will you be able to convert those contacts you made over a glass of wine into valuable business opportunities for you? Successful networking is all in the follow-up. If you?re looking for a job, following up is all the more crucial. Without touching base after a networking event, you become just another face in the crowd of job hunting hopefuls. The first important rule for following-up with networking contacts is to lay the foundations for the follow-up during the initial meeting. At networking events, there can be a lot of empty promises thrown around. Use that first meeting to convey the message that you haven?t gotten caught up in ?networking fever? but instead that you are very serious about exploring the job opportunity that you?re discussing with your new contact. Ask the contact when would be a good time to follow-up with them, and then reiterate the information back to them at the end of your conversation: ?I look forward to speaking with you Friday at 2 p.m.? If they don?t give you a specific time, then suggest one to them. This rule holds true even if your contact is giving you a lead on a job not with them but with another contact of their own. Let them know you appreciate the information by saying, ?Thanks. I will plan on calling Mary on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m.? Not only will this convey your seriousness about the opportunity presented to you, but it may also get you some handy inside information, as the contact may reply, ?Oh, no, Mary will be out of town until Thursday ? call her then.? The next important rule to networking follow-ups is to follow up with EVERY lead a contact gives you. If a contact suggests that you call someone whom you know won?t really be able to help you in your job search, call him or her anyway. Otherwise, when your contact finds out you aren?t taking their advice, they may just decide not to give you any more the future and any business person can tell you that you never know from whom the most valuable lead will come some day. Keep the lines of communication open by giving any and all suggestions a whirl. Last but not least, do the actual following-up. Follow up with your contact exactly when you said you would, and in the exact manner you said you would (phone, email, letter, etc). If for some reason you can?t make contact at the arranged time, keep trying. If you haven?t made arrangements for a follow-up with a contact, then the rule of thumb is to follow-up with them as soon as possible after meeting them. Try to at least send an email or letter the next day saying what a pleasure it was to meet and that you look forward to talking more in the future, and then say in that note when you plan to follow-up with your contact by phone. Then, of course, stick to that new follow-up obligation. Even if the promises made by a contact while networking don?t pan out for you on the job front, don?t cross them off of your contact list. Keep them in the loop about your job search and your career goals. While they may not have been able to make if happen for you this time, you never know what they might be able to do for you in the future. Your most promising business contact may be someone you already know.

Helpful Hints for Finding Free Stuff Online The World Wide Web is awash in wonderful freebies. The problem is finding them, and sorting out the real freebies from those that will cost you in the long run. Fortunately for those of us that resist the notion of not finding cool freebies, there are many tips that can help you filter out the bad results as quickly as possible. Why is it So Hard to Find True Freebies on the World Wide Web? Why is it so hard to find true freebies on the Web, and what can you do to improve your search results? Finding freebies is harder than ever. First, try searching for freebies by typing in the word 'free' into any search engine, and chances are that you will receive a lot of filler pages that do not contain any useful information, much less any true freebies. Many websites use the word 'free' in order to draw in the web traffic, but will not actually offer you any freebies. Another problem with web freebies is that they are often not as free as you would like. In many cases, you will not be allowed to access your freebies of choice until you to watch advertisements or put up with obtrusive pop-up and banner ads. Sometimes you may also be forced to subscribe to an email newsletter that results in your inbox becoming flooded with unwanted messages. Here are some tips that can help you find the real freebies. Check Out Forums Known for Their Freebies There are many well-established online forums where you can find the latest freebies. One of these websites is SlickDeals, which has established itself as a place to find authentic freebies. Check out the freebie forum to find free samples from a wide range of products and services. You will be amazed by how many free things you can find by checking these forums regularly. Share and exchange your own favorite freebies with other forum contributors and users. Check Out the Hot Deals and Coupons to Be Found Online Another favorite site for web freebie-hunters is Hot Coupon World. This site is home to a very active forum that provides users with freebie offers in a variety of different areas and topics. Check out the many different folders to find hot coupons and freebie offers. Share and read the member secrets on how to get the best free stuff. There is even a fun Adopt a Newbie program that allows you to do just that?bring more freebie hunters into the fold. The more freebie hunters, the more chances of someone finding something worth holding on to. Does Your Free Cup Runneth Over? If you want to discover the best in online freebies, A Full Cup is not a bad place to start looking. This is yet another very popular freebie website that provides its members with the greatest in freebie deals and offers. This is a great place to peruse for the latest and the greatest in new freebie offers. The Message Board Hot Spot for Web Freebies Another freebie hot spot on the web is known as Teri's Message Board. This well-regarded web forum is family-oriented. If it is your first visit to this vibrant website, check out the Hot Deals, Rebates and Samples folders. Chances are, you will find more than one great freebie deal on this very active website. A Great Place to Gather for Long-Standing Freebies Looking for a well-established freebie website that offers the best in freebies in a well-organized manner? If so, check out the FreeSite.com. This website have been around for many years and it shows: it is well organized, with a large selection of web freebies.