Five Ways Web Professionals Should Be Proactive In a Recession

Things are going to get worse before they get better
It’s official, we’re in a recession, say economists. Four quarters since Q4 2007 indicate this economic change and Bloomberg reports that “The U.S. economy may be headed for its deepest and longest recession since World War II”.

Things look even more grim as the, Associated Press reports that employers cut 533K jobs in Nov., most in 34 years”, of course this impacts personal lives as LA Times shows that 10% of homeowners are in or are nearing foreclosure status. My job is to listen to the marketplace, and I didn’t hear anyone talking about this until Sept 2008, it’s as if US, and the world were taken by surprise.

Perhaps the scariest thing for most, is that no matter how hard you work, you could get layed off. Your division, your budget, or your role could get eliminated.

Five Ways Web Professionals Should Be Proactive In a Recession
I’m not all doom and gloom, here’s how you can be proactive, even if you work at a Fortune 100, you are after all, a company of one, so respect yourself and be proactive:

Learn How to Adjust at Your Day Job
I survived 10 rounds of layoffs and was the final 12.5% of Exodus before I went to work at World Savings, what did I do learn? The trick is to stay flexible and demonstrate you can adapt, increase revenues, or use your skills in a scalable and efficient way. You’ll also need to properly internal market your abilities within your corporation or with your clients to demonstrate why you and your services give greater return out the end. Fortunately, the web can be such a tool –if you know how to do it right.

Understand How Social Media is a Risk and Opportunity
Social media has an opportunity in a recession, these tools are cheap, some marketing campaigns range from 10-50k on the low end, far less expensive than any traditional marketing. Of course, with comes great risk: doing it wrong can result in a punking, not doing anything at all could leave you exposed, and most brands overlook the amount of labor required to develop these programs. As a result, I’m working on an upcoming report, and we’re surveying social media marketers to find out if they’re going to increase –or decrease –their social media resources during a downturn. In fact, we’re re jigging some of my research agenda to meet the needs of the market and client –so stay tuned.

Use Online Networking Tools to Connect
If you’re a web professional, or are involved with social media in your career, I want you to network with others in my Web Strategy Facebook Group (there are over 9000 folks there), or within the Community Manager Facebook Group (over 2000 folks). You should also be updating your LinkedIn Profile (doing so triggers updates to others) and connect and reconnect with folks you need to synch up with.

Attend Real World Events
The need to connect in person (yes, real life) is the core essence of what makes us social animals, and as a result, I’ve organized a free networking event called a Tweetup in Silicon Valley this coming Thursday, and 81 intent to come, and 62 others are interested. I found this list of things to do before you get layed off very helpful. If you’re in the area, come out to the event, bring your clients, meet clients, network with others, now is the time to link in with others, build your network before you need them.

Always Be Looking For Opportunities
Even if your work for a corporation you’re a company of one, you have control over your destiny, therefore you must always have your ear to the rail, listening and meeting folks that could potentially help you. I’ve made friends with some of the top recruiters in the web industry, and I’ve been helping them when the economy was good –think ahead. If you recently were layed off, or are looking to move up, Forrester is hiring a social media analyst (email your resume to jowyang at forrester dot com), and you can peruse the Web Strategy Job Board or learn who has recently been hired and on the move.

My Commitment
Stay close to this blog, those who are readers benefit not just from the content on the blog, but more importantly the community that surrounds this blog. I’m only as successful as those around me, so it’s in my best interest to help you –we can do this together.

There’s a few things I can do to be proactive, and they include:

  • I’m here for the long haul, I knew the internet was my calling, been through dot bomb, and will be here after this dip.
  • In my day job as an Industry Analyst, I will conduct research to find out what marketing efforts work –and don’t– in a recession.
  • I’ll continue to post on this blog, and gear content that doesn’t just talk about the economic changes, but gives some suggestions to improve.
  • Offer online community resources that allow my network to benefit directly from each other, like Facebook networking.
  • Highlight who’s hiring, who got hired, and why. Discuss what skills are needed in the future to be successful.
  • Continue to organize free community events (like Tweetups) for those to meet, connect, and grow as a group.
  • Got other tips for web professionals bracing for an economic downturn? leave a comment.

    45 Replies to “Five Ways Web Professionals Should Be Proactive In a Recession”

    1. I did not know you worked at Exodus, I worked at Intel Online Services and had a very similar experience at the exact same time period as you. I moved over to Trend Micro (anti-virus and content security) and led their eCommerce and Business Process Development operations after Intel. Great advice and well worth paying attention too in this economy – whether employed or not. Thank you for the post.

    2. Jeremiah

      As usual fantastic post. Everyone needs to read this. I find flexibility to be key in any job that you have. As a software developer, this means that you need to learn new technologies or even just trying to improve your weaknesses.

    3. Bert

      Oh yeah, I worked at “Exit Us”. I’m familiar with Trend Micro, I managed the Extranet (and other things) at Hitachi Data Systems, so we were reaching for the same IT decision makers.

    4. Rob

      I give great respect to engineers and developers, they constantly have to re learn architectures and languages. I struggle enough with my first language English –let alone learning new technical ones.

    5. If your company is laying off tons of people, my tip would be to look around for another job — and, importantly, do not hesitate to use the senior officers as contacts and references in your job search. If they have any soul, they will be willing to bend over backwards in helping you out. Reach out to the senior officers with specific requests; you will most likely get their assistance if it is within their power.

      Don’t ask them to cut you slack in the company — they probably can’t do that. Instead, ask them for references, ask their advice, even ask them for personal loans. I’m serious. Keep the communication line open, the senior guys want to help you out.

    6. Help others who are looking — take an hour a week to make connections for people in your network. The connection could be consultant-client, job seeker-hiring manager, or just introducing two people who share a similar interest. It may not insulate you from a layoff, particularly if your job does not tie directly to revenue, but it gives back to your network, and prompts folks to think of you when they’re making similar connections.

    7. If web professionals have good communication skills they will have better chance with networking both online and offline, otherwise it is hard ahead, if you are not rocket scientist

    8. Enjoyed your points. And yes people should always be looking for opportunities.

      I fully understand getting “downsized” layoffs and all. Almost six years ago I went from 6 figures to zero with these words, “we are cutting back”.

      Since then it has been a struggle. Realizing the opportunity that an online business could bring, I have since started as well as a couple other sites.

      After some long nights and week-ends, things are starting to look better.

    9. Thanks for the good advice. It applies to the self employed also.

      As a self employed artist and writer I find social media to be a fantastic way to connect and communicate. It is a paper I can draw or write on and a canvas, even a group canvas that we all can share.

      There is power in the group, and we can now interact and join together in ways never before possible.

      The link above it to the blog at my site as I hope you look at the articles about Twitter’s first Post Conceptual Performance Art Event. My initial attempt as using the web as my interactive canvas.

      I have joined both of your groups on Facebook and look forward to learning more from you!

      Judy Rey Wasserman
      Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory

    10. What an inspiring post. I clicked on Tweet to this and was blown away. How awesome. Good for you. You have just (genuinely) endeared and built a loyalty that is of a much deeper nature. We have that commitment in our industry to saving lives and improving quality of life. To read this from a marketing industry/Web 2.0 was just a great morning read! 🙂

    11. Excellent advice as usual, Jeremiah. I would also emphasize one of the points made in the Get Rich Slowly post you linked to: “Reduce your household burn rate.” It seems SO simple, but so many of us STILL don’t do it.


      –STOP eating out for convenience; eat out when you’re networking.

      –STOP paying for cable or satellite TV; it’s a piece of optional spending you can do without, and you’re going to need those evening hours for networking, moonlighting, and nesting with loved ones to keep your spirits high. (Anyway, Netflix is way cheaper.)

      –START analyzing EVERY expenditure as though you were your own grandparents, living through the Great Depression or the Cultural Revolution or the Nazi regime; this isn’t to break down your spirit, but so you can get a grip on what’s genuinely important to you while you still have choices to make about where your money is going.

      –SAVE MONEY, period.

      One more thing for Jason @9 — Good communication skills will never go out of style in the business world, and they can be learned. No, a wallflower will not suddenly turn into Oprah Winfrey or Bill Clinton, but they can get *better* — and get better *daily* — by the application of practice. And one advantage of the social media for these folks is that so much of it is written down: it gives shy people, and people who simply like more time to compose their thoughts, the chance to participate on an equal footing with glib folks like me. I’ve seen this in action many times.

    12. Thanks, Jeremiah, for your ongoing commitment to the community that you’ve helped to create. I don’t read you blog every day or even every week. But when I do drop in, I always find something useful. And I refer others to your blog on a regular basis.

      Which goes to a bigger picture of how people survive a downturn–they give consistently to others, in good times and bad times.

      It can be easy to adopt a scarcity mindset when times are tight. As Tim pointed out, this is a good thing when it comes to looking at your expenditures with a critical eye–not to ruin your day but to give you more options at the end of the day.

      And we can all have a mindset of abundance in other areas–in giving our attention and expertise, being kind to others, and in thinking about possibilities in the world. Thanks for being a role model on this front.

      One last point. My attitude on how I respond to circumstances–whether it’s a request to re-do a client deliverable I worked on so diligently or how I’m reading the tea leaves of the economy–makes all the difference, not only in how I feel but how others perceive me. I have an opportunity every day to “dirty the waters” of the environment I’m working in or to add some sparkle. It’s my choice.

    13. 1.)I know many conservative corporations who won’t touch external Social Media with a barge pole right now… and that’s regardless of the economy. The risk, is heightened for them. However if you are working in a communications, PR or product related role, companies could be interested in internal social media applications. So,I’d suggest adapting your social media skills and knowledge to an “inside out” model that helps employees do their jobs better. Wikis, internal blogs, content management/intranets and internal Facebook pages come to mind.

      2. Diversify. Start a side business (keep it separate from work if conflicts are an issue). Develop passive income streams. Help small businesses to succeed (or businesses in another niche) to market or sell using social media and develop a portfolio of marketable skills independently.

      Believe in yourself and just do it. You will be amazed at how you don’t have time to worry about downsizing. In fact, it might even be an opportunity.

      The writing has been on the wall for a long, long time and we shouldn’t be surprised at the stark reality… there is no such thing as “Job Security, there never has been.

      The Internet has amazing possibilities for savvy web professionals.
      Oh, and don’t read/listen the popular media. It will drag you down because no matter what the good news, bad news will always sell more papers.

    14. I enjoy helping Baby Boomers become biztech savvy, so please let your family and friends who desire to learn new networking skills via LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter know about how I can help them.

    15. I’ve been reading a bunch of these posts on social networking, and they have been very helpful. I’ve set up some new accounts, based on your recommendations. Now I’m anticipating that a critical mass is forming! I’m one of those Baby Boomers that Carlos H mentions above. This process is part of my Alzheimers’ prevention project. Believe me! I am on a steep learning curve, but your information really helps. Now, just one nasty point from a retired teacher–PLEASE WATCH YOUR SPELLING! Yikes! This last post was pretty bad, Jeremiah. (sorry).

    16. This blog is currently my lifeline. I discovered it while working as a PR intern earlier this year. I keep checking back every day despite the fact I’ve been a part-time delivery driver since August. Other positions I’ve held in recent months include painter, tree-feller, varnish huffer (ok paint-stripper), and musician. My devotion to your blog recently paid off as I was awarded a small social media consulting contract! Couldn’t have done it without you, thank you very much! PS – Those in PDX can bid on a picnic package for the Portland Mercury Charity Auction and have our band entertain you. Here is the link:

    17. This is a great update and thanks for the tips. I look forward to seeing your report on whether or not social media marketers will increase/decrease services during a recession. I just got introduced to this blog via the SMC newsletter. Looking forward to reading more…

    18. Jeremiah, very thoughtful post! I was laid off from my second job earlier this year, thank goodness I had my full time job to fall back on! It was quite devastating at the time though, I can only imagine how it would feel to be jobless and supporting a family. I feel for those people. Thank you for the post and for giving some smart tips to do now.

    19. Jeremiah – wise words, as always. Thank you for sharing your advice and insights, and thank you for sharing your past experiences as well. It is truly helpful to hear from others who have survived – and thrived – through previous downturns, especially for the younger generation of workers.

      It’s always helpful to point to thought leaders such as yourself to emphasize that focusing on what you can control – i.e., “you have control over your own destiny” – is the best focus. And try not to panic!

      As an aside, we are helping to arrange a 12/15/08 Boston TweetUp (and raise funds for a great charity to boot) to continue the “real world interaction” you mention – anyone is welcome to come:

      Thank you,
      Christine Perkett

    20. Pingback: Thank you 2008
    21. Jeremiah,

      My name is Bill Cullifer and I am the executive director for the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) and eleven year old professional association serving Web professionals worldwide. I am writing to you today with a request for an interview.

      I am introducing a new look and feel and brand to our podcast (see and I’d like to feature you in our soon to be announce “Profiles for Success”.


    22. This recession was truly hard to survive. I hope the end of it is near. But there was a time to think over and to learn new things and, as you said, try to adapt to the new circumstances and new reality.

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