I’m very surprised that no one has posted about their predictions for 2009 yet. I’ve seen a lot of “best of 2008 posts,” but no predictions! One can only assume that you will see a flurry of posts in the next couple of weeks, as thought leaders are trying to make predictions for next year. 2008 was a great year and we started to see some of my predictions from 2007 come true.

The economy forces people into personal branding

In 2009, personal branding will be a commonly used vocabulary word. It will also become the cure for the economic poison that is plaguing our world. As of right now, there are three times more job seekers than available jobs! By mid next year, there will be over 3 million layoffs and growing. The fewer jobs there are, the more competition there is for those jobs. This forces people to work much harder to claim these few openings.

When thousands of resumes are tossed in a recruiters face, they may all end up in the trash. How do you end up in a pile that they read? How do you differentiate yourself? The answer, as I’ve stated in this blog many times, is personal branding. Turning to proven tools and methodologies is a great way to get yourself on the right career track and turn your passion into money, even in a poor economy.

Personal brand management becomes easier

One of the biggest challenges with building a personal brand, in bits and bytes, is managing it over your lifetime. First impressions are near random on the web, so it’s hard to know how someone if first “meeting you.” This means your brand must be consistent and accurately portray you throughout the web. This month, we have seen some major players come out with applications that enable this consistency, such as MySpace Data Availability, Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect.

Any website in the world can leverage these applications and users are able to connect their existence on these networks to the site easily. In essence, instead of joining smaller networks, you are able to use your information from the big boys to comment on blogs, etc. Facebook’s application is the most compelling because you share your activities with your Facebook network, which is extremely good for building traffic and word-of-mouth.

Personal branding in the classroom

Over the past few months, I’ve heard from a lot of college teachers and career advisers that they are starting to enhance their business course offerings with social media classes. Within their curriculum, there are segment on personal branding using social media tools. We’ve certainly come a long way academically, and it’s only the beginning. I see more schools adopting these methodologies because they are cheap (colleges don’t have big budgets). Aside from helping students with their careers, they are building community within their classrooms, which is especially good for students who express themselves through online means.

Growth and elimination of social networks

There is going to be 28% less social network ad spending next year, which means that many social networks will be closing up shop. Venture capitalists and angel investors will become extremely selective, leaving the majority of the dinero with the largest networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. On the upside, it’s apparent that each of these networks is experiencing growth still. Facebook now has 130 million users, 230,000 users sign-up each day at MySpace (I think they have over 200 million users now), and LinkedIn has over 30 million users.

The economy has drove a few million people to sign-up for LinkedIn because employers are searching there. These networks will continue to grow and evolve, while smaller ones will be eliminated due to funding, entrepreneurs who’ve given up and by not having a business model.

Brand name craze

I can see a lot more people hopping on the brandwagon by purchasing their domain name. I think the majority will just purchase theirname.com and forget about .net and .org. Other people that share your name may pickup the pieces. I think lawyers might be getting involved at some point because of identity theft and shared name confusion.

For instance, if you’re a company and your competitor takes your Twitter name, what do you do? Just like there are domain name collectors out there, that buy low and sell high, there will be ones with social networks. The difference is that it costs you nothing to purchase social network names, while their is a barrier with the $7 domain name price if you scale up.

Journalism: brands matter, paper doesn’t

PC Magazine was one of the first major magazines to cut their print edition, sticking with just an online version. Due to the economy and the fact that media has been dispersed by the growth of citizen journalism, more magazines will drop out of print next year. Advertisers will be cutting back substantially and journalists will continue getting laid off. I think theres a major opportunity for journalists to start their own blog now, before it’s too late. The big brands will keep afloat for now because of their reputation for good quality news reporting.

My big plans for next year

My efforts in the personal branding arena in the past were a preview of what’s to come next year, when I step on the gas. I have my first book coming out called Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, which is a complete game changer. It will help people of all ages, especially college students, discover their own brand and use it to create the job of their dreams, without even applying for it. I want to create a legion of “career commanders,” who wake up everyday confidently and with pride, as they journey into bettering the world.

Aside from the book, issue 7 of Personal Branding Magazine will be out on February 1st. A free sample version of issue 6 is available right now. I’ll also be launching a new blog in January, which will have the same brand name “Personal Branding Blog,” but it will be hosted on PersonalBrandingBlog.com instead of this wordpress.com address. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m doing it to open the blog up to more contributors and to make money to fund everything else I’m doing. Theres a lot more to come next year, so stay tuned!