Rather than suffer through a slow economy, creative professionals should seize the opportunity to market themselves. A recession just slows everything down. Clients act more slowly, fewer projects enter the pipeline, and we are left with a little extra time. Rather than fill this time with insecurity, we should use it to differentiate affordable, and innovative. Here are a few tips to consider in these uncomfortable yet opportune times. (1) Start re-engaging with your past clients! During the high-flying times, it is easy to lose touch with past clients and colleagues. Now is a great opportunity to re-engage and strengthen your network. Spend some time fixing up your address book, go through that pile of business cards and enter them into your computer, and start connecting the dots on who you want to follow up with. (2) Start a monthly email update Every creative professional has some side projects worth talking about. Why not start a monthly email to your network with 3-5 quick updates on your latest and greatest? If you keep the email short and catchy, your network will likely forward it along to others. And when people need your services, you’ll be top of mind. (3) Start having breakfast (with whoever you can) Marketing your ideas and your own brand must also happen offline. Consider scheduling two breakfasts per week with a long lost colleague or an old client. You’ll be surprised what potential opportunities and realizations can arise over breakfast. And besides, breakfast is the cheapest meal of the day! (4) Invest in your online presence Whether you’re still employed, a freelancer, or on the lookout, take advantage of the opportunity to update your personal website or online portfolio. One anecdote we can share is that the Behance Network has seen extraordinary growth among both full-time and freelance creatives that are taking more time to showcase their work online and build their professional networks. (5) Embark on a major personal project. Some of the most productive creative professionals we have met try to complete one major personal project every year. The process keeps their creative instincts sharp and serves as a testament to their forward thinking, unrestrained capabilities. Now is a great time to follow through on an idea you’ve always had – something that will differentiate your portfolio when the boom returns.