self-branding may seem like a useless buzz-phrase better suited to Donald Trump, particularly given that you're just trying to lay low and hang on to your job until the recession is over.
But personal branding guru Dan Schawbel, author of the upcoming book Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, says it can be even more important to create a distinctive, marketable role for yourself in a recession. An expertise and identity that resonate outside your company can be highly valuable to your employer now—and highly valuable to you later, should you find yourself unemployed. "The top personal brands within a company have the least chance to be laid off because they've made themselves a valuable asset to their company," he says. "Those who fail to invest in themselves will not only be the first to be laid off, but they won't be positioned to recover."
So, how do you build a brand? More than a decade ago, management expert Tom Peters suggested a personal brand was built, in part, on your most distinctive, bragworthy traits. Start by heading online and creating a profile on LinkedIn. You can punch it up with your highlights and achievements, and, because it generally ranks high on Google search results, hiring managers or acquaintances will see the professional equivalent of your glamour shot. A profile on Facebook is less formal but still a good opportunity to showcase yourself. Schawbel suggests opening a Twitter account in your name as well. Think of all of this as carving out branded real estate online.
A rigorously updated blog is also a crucial part of branding. You're communicating your expertise and acumen in a public forum, where you can network with others interested in, or relevant to, your niche. It's passion for a topic, Schawbel says, that sets successful bloggers apart.