The "official" season of giving is long gone, but when it comes to your professional network, giving should be something you do year-round.

Networks are important. They are powerful. They are essential. And when the economy takes a turn south, they become even more valuable to career-minded marketers.

As a marketer, you're probably feeling the stress of the economic conditions your company is facing. Having worked in corporate marketing for more than 20 years, I feel your pain. I remember that every time there was talk of a recession, the marketing budget would be among the first to be slashed, increasing tension within the marketing organization.

One antidote to the fear, stress, and negativity that often accompanies these inevitable economic challenges is giving to others.

You're well aware of how valuable your professional network is. Network members can help you find a new job or source superstars to work for you. And they are great sounding boards and expert resources who help you become better at what you do.

Effective networking is all about giving. One of the best ways to give to your network members is to help them build their personal brands. And if you help them build their brands on the Web, you demonstrate how savvy you are about the new Web 2.0 world we live in. And, for marketers, being savvy about social media is essential!

Here's a list of 10 free or very low-cost Web 2.0–focused personal-branding gifts. Among them is certainly a gift for each member of your professional network. So take some time to show your network members some love.

1. Recommend a member on LinkedIn. In a Web 2.0 world, nothing says "I care about you" more than a positive reference posted on your LinkedIn profile. Just ensure this contact is in your network and then click on Recommend. You're helping to make this person's LinkedIn profile more valuable and credible—the best kind of personal branding. And, remember, write a personal, descriptive recommendation highlighting his or her greatest strengths and personal-brand attributes.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of William Arruda

William Arruda is a personal branding pioneer, the founder and CEO of Reach Personal Branding, and the author of Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives.

Twitter: @williamarruda

LinkedIn: William Arruda