in reply to Help in Tough Times
This is an exceptionally nice “digest” of great links.
The biggest skill to learn, I think, is selling. ”Let's face it: you're expensive.” If no one understands the value that you bring, and if you can't explain the benefits of “your product, i.e. you” without pulling-out a slide rule, then you plainly know nothing about selling.
Companies who are facing financial pressure – and these pressures are now extreme – feel pressured to cut costs anywhere they can, literally in order to remain solvent. (They're not joking about this.) You need not only selling-skills, but good selling-skills, to make the case that your job (or your department or whatever) is vital to help the company make money and avoid expense.
As an aside, I would caution you about “getting your desperate dreams up” about striking out on your own. This is not an advantageous time to take any sort of plunge along those lines, because funding for the kinds of projects that might get outsourced to people like you was probably the first thing to get frozen.