A good friend of mine in the UK has just left the big manufacturing company he's been with for over 15 years and is now facing the Herculean task of quickly building and establishing his own identity.
Two key starting points - a new email address (he had a personal Hotmail account but everyone knows him from his business email) and a new mobile phone number (he didn't get the option to take over his current phone number and continue maintaining the account himself).
Creating a new presence is not that difficult. However, ensuring that all the contacts you've made and built up over the years know how and where to find you without interruption will be tricky.
This friend is taking three months or so to adjust to the change he's embarking on (a voluntary change, I would add, not because of an acquisition or being axed), during which time I expect he'll get his new presence started.
Perhaps as recently as the turn of the century you could manage a situation like this without much worry. And in a couple of months, you'd be out there again in touch with your business contacts and acquaintances as you get your new venture going, letting them know about your new email address, phone number, website, etc.
Today you don't have that luxury of time. If you're not ready to transition into a new way of working immediately, you will disappear off the radar screens of many of the people and businesses you need to maintain continuity with.
This applies whether you're starting out on your own or changing jobs to continue as a paid employee of a company.
- Carry and use your own cell phone/number for business
The workforce now is mobile and temporary even if you have a salaried job. You need to be in control of the center of communications: you.
- Carry and use your own email address even at work
Otherwise your contacts and the relationships you build can be severed when you leave a job, and that is an investment that you have a right to maintain--as does your employer.
- Carry and use your own health insurance
Because otherwise, you will be stuck in a job that makes you sick just to keep the health insurance.
- Incorporate and work on contract rather than as an employee
This allows you to negotiate the same kind of stock compensation while allowing you to keep your business costs, even the ones you can't get compensated for at work, on your own taxes while increasing the flexibility you have as a working person.
- Carry and use your own hardware, building tech expenses into your compensation
This prevents lock-in to a job through access to technology. Sure, you may have to work with a less impressive laptop, but you're also forced to think more like the people who really buy computers, software, services and so forth.
Sound advice and well worth heeding.
I'd add two more:
- Create a blog and establish your personal presence in the new marketplace
In this new age of global inter-connectivity, linking and influence, a blog is a prerequisite if you want to build your own credibility, be found easily and connect with others. Forget the static website. Forget the fancy brochure. Do a blog. It works - I speak from personal experience.
- Join a business network like LinkedIn or OpenBC
However you actively use these or not, they can help establish your individual credibility and provide avenues of contact with others for mutual benefit.