By Mary Walewski, CIPA board member and PR chair

You’re a spammer if you add people to your mailing list without their permission.

It’s tempting to collect business cards at networking events and add these email addresses to your mailing list. But, your ezine is considered spam if your recipient did not ask to receive it.

All of the commercial email services like Constant Contact, Aweber, Mail Chimp and iContact state very plainly that you should not add contacts to your list without permission. If enough spam complaints are registered against your account, the service provider will shut you down.

“But,” you’re thinking, “if I didn’t just add people I meet, I wouldn’t be able to build my email list!” Sure you can. You just have to give people a good reason to opt in to your list. Do you offer an ebook, a video, or some other “ethical bribe” to entice people to subscribe to your mailing list? The commercial email services also make it easy to post your ezine to your Facebook and Twitter profiles, increasing your reach. This ezine gets a lot of traffic through Facebook and Twitter.

If you meet someone who might like your ezine, try sending them a sample of your ezine with a personalized invitation to join your list. Maybe they’ll join and maybe they won’t. At the very least, you won’t have ruined a promising relationship by spamming them.

Last point: how many of those contacts you added without permission even open your emails? A big list is useless unless people respond to your communications.

Mary Walewski of Buy The Book Marketing is a social media consultant and trainer. She is a CIPA board member and PR chair.