Recession proofing the brand called YOU

Today's tough times got a whole lot more real for me last week, when ones of my best mates was fired from his job in the city. Kids in private school. House with a mortgage. Worked his ass off for years, getting up at 5am to slog into town. And then, boom. Timed to perfection so he missed out on his bonus by a matter of weeks.

I'm now helping him with the brand positioning for a new solo business. Trouble is, he has a lot of catching up to do to create a compelling story about himself, and to get his network of contacts buzzing. And this got me thinking about how important it is to keep your "personal brand" positioning and marketing mix up to date NOW, when you're in a job. That way, when you need to find a new job, or start your own solo business, you're ready to hit the ground running.

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Here are some simple suggestions on what you can do:

1. The brand called you: First up is to think about and capture in a sentence or two your personal brand positioning. What makes you different and better in your chosen field? For example, "Business savvy brand manager who knows how to make money, not just ads"

2. Build your profile: Look for ways to start building your name in your chosen industry, through speaking at conferences, or contributing to magazine articles. Link your personal brand to brand success stories in the company where you work. If you work in a "real job", as opposed to being a consultant/agency person ;-), then this is relatively easy. Journalists and conference organizers are always looking for marketing directors/managers to tell real-life growth stories.

3. Keep you press book up to date: when you do get featured, keep a press book. My mate from the City had been in the Financial Times, and on CNN. But he never kept personal copies of these media appearances, and will now find it hard to get them.

4. Network, network, network: I know you're busy. But take a bit of time now to network with your peers. This could be through industry events, such as The Marketing Society. Or it could be through personal contacts you can connect your with people in industries you are interested in.

5. Link-in: Linked In has contributed to at least one major new business win for me. And its a handy online CV that more and more people are using. But its no good if your Linked In page is empty, and you look like "Johny No Mates" by having only 3 contacts. You can easily import your whole Outlook address book, and Linked In will then tell you which are available to link to.

If you want to know more about personal branding, the definitive article by Tom Peters on "Brand You" is here.