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I highly recommend this, as it’s a great way to have cash flow while you are developing your other business model.
This also means you are probably building up a network of contacts with an email address associated with your employer. When it comes time to leave, this could cause big problems and cut you off from your network.
This also may apply if you work as an independent agent, sales person or contractor at a company and want the flexibility to move on someday.
Here are some quick tips to make sure your bases are covered:
This can be a free Gmail account, or associated with your domain name. If you are using a free service, don’t use something like firstname.lastname@example.org. Pick your name, initials or something professional. You also might want your “business” account to be separate than your “personal” account.
If you’ve connected sites like LinkedIn and the only email on the account is your employer’s email address, you’ll be in trouble once you’ve gone. This is a very important! I know of several people that have gotten stuck with this. You’ll want to make sure that no matter what, YOU control your online brand, not your old employer.
Make sure to save any messages that you may need, since you should expect to lose access. For example, if your emails are downloaded to your computer via IMAP, once you lose the connection, they will disappear. Be sure to backup messages with praise about your work, receipts or important records of your work.
Again, if you are using your company’s system, you may lose access once you are gone. One of my contacts turned in his resignation and didn’t back up his phone, only to have his entire (company owned phone) completely wiped out. All of his contacts were gone. So backup your email program (export the contacts) and your phone.
While you are adding your own email address, make sure your bio & information is up-to-date. You also may want to keep a record of these accounts with login and passwords (this can be as simple as a Word doc or paper file). As you update your brand, you’ll need to go back and change them. This is an on-going process, so having a list means you can quickly go through the accounts whenever you have a business change.
Your domain name is the address you type into a web browser, such as www.virtuallinda.com. You can have a simple resume site or just a contact form. You’ll never know when you might need this due to a change in work status. This may be a stressful time, so get it setup sooner than later… it’s like insurance. This can be your name or something related to your business.
If you are planning on launching your own business one day, it’s never too early to start building your network. I’m not suggesting you hand these out when you are supposed to be working for your employer. But carry them with you and when you meet friends, attend or social or networking events or even just go out to the store… you’ll be prepared if you strike up a conversation with someone that can help you in the future. If you give them your current business card, it’s useless once you move on.
I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing opportunities pop up in my business career. I’m not sure if the number of them is above average, but I do know that my online brand prepared me to immediately take advantage of the the opportunities. You can do it, too.
This has allowed me to survive and thrive through mass layoffs (TWICE), budget cuts on freelance projects, through jobs that were just a paycheck and more. With the economy on a bumpy ride and “things that will never happen” like the government shutdown actually happening… you just never know.
I’ve successfully used my online brand since 1997, both while I was happily employed and looking to leave. It’s your best way to be ready when opportunity comes calling!
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