The importance of continuity of personal presence

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.

So pay attention to the new rules of engagement such as these from Tom Foremski and Mitch Ratcliffe:

  • 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.

What else?

8 thoughts on “The importance of continuity of personal presence

  1. The 21st Century marketplace, and the rules we follow

    Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher has the following rules for todays worker:
    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 contro…

  2. There’s one you’re never gonna get a top flight CIO to agree to – own hardware. Not in any standards based outfit that is.
    But they might just agree to your having a backup device?

  3. I expect you’re right Dennis. One alternative I’d push for if I were going to work for a company would be to negotiate in my contract that the company would provide the hardware I need to do my job (ie, laptop or whatever type of PC) and which I keep if I leave the company.
    Such hardware is written down (even written off) after a few years and it’s not a big deal for the employer to agree to such a request. Even if it means some kind of nominal price I’d have to pay (perhaps to satisfy tax requirements if for no other reason), it would be a good deal for everyone.
    In fact, as an employee, I’d prefer that rather than bringing my own hardware into the workplace.

  4. Moveable Reputation

    Neville Hobson shares the story of a friend who is leaving his company and the challenges that such movement presents to his reputation/identity/connectivity. He offers a variety of tips on how to manage your “personal presence” (as he calls it)…

  5. Don’t mix your identity with your employer’s

    Neville Hobson, Tom Foremski and Mitch Ratcliffe are dispensing advice you should run, not walk, to heed immediately if you work in an organization. The message: Guard your identity and don’t mix it up with your company’s identity. Otherwise, you

  6. I have a slight issue with the second item, using your own e-mail address. I am always suspicious when I am dealing with a representative of a company that uses a personal e-mail account. To be clear this is different than an outside consultant or a contract employee working on behalf of a company.
    When a ‘full-time’ employee gives me a personal e-mail account at first contact I usually think, “This person isn’t planning on hanging around long.”

  7. That’s a good point, Josh.
    If I were in that situation, what I would do is include my personal email address as an additional means of contact. That’s becoming more common – people with more than one email address where the additional one is a domain that’s different.
    As long as it’s something a little more credible than a Hotmail address, though 😉

  8. Excellent overview. I was in this position earlier this year, and quite rightly lost my work email address and any files and folders in that account, even personal. From my experience, I’d add a couple of points I learnt,
    1. If you know you are leaving a few months in advance, and most people with 15-20 years of experience wouldn’t leave in a heartbeat, start your blogging early. Participate in community or professional interest blogs if you don’t have the time to start your personal one. This will ensure your name is out there, linked to your own email address and website/blog without the issues mentioned above by Josh Hallett.
    2. The hardware issue is a problem in many offices with IT Dept’s fixing the specs of the PC and laptops. But you can still keep much of your information and research portable across platform and geographic location. For example, Flickr,, a transitional Gmail account used to store files online (2GB storage accessible from anywhere in the world), Skype accounts, typepad et al, all of these are independent of the physical location of your machine and your browser.
    3. Oh and get some of personal business cards (I used for the interim period, say a few weeks before you’re to leave the organization, and pass out both cards – this ensures your personal email, URL and mobile number are out there once you lose your “corp identity”.

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