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BUSINESS

*Wake up and smell the industrial revolution. While it might not have the same ring as Coca-Cola or Google, your own name is an equally important brand. In today’s constantly shifting marketplace, where more people are competing for fewer positions, put yourself in harried employers’ shoes and ask, what makes you stand out from the crowd? Granted, chest-thumping egotism remains as distasteful as ever, but 2009’s most successful professionals recognize a simple principle that advertisers grasped long ago: In modern society’s hyperkinetic, visually oriented culture, how you package and present yourself speaks volumes. Here’s how, with little cost and effort, you can multiply personal equity tenfold.

1 Do the Math

Education is expensive, but ignorance remains costlier still. Keeping one’s skill set current is vital. While others waste time atrophying to The Oprah Winfrey Show, realize that now’s the time to double down and invest in yourself. Can’t afford to go back to school? Try an online degree; sharpen your skills with free Internet webinars, interactive tutorials, and downloadable reference volumes; or tap into complimentary seminars and classes. The world constantly evolves -- to keep pace, you must as well.

2 Speak Up

Don’t hesitate -- create. Use blogs, bylined articles, podcasts, self-published manuscripts, webcam videos, research projects, surveys, and social networks to spread your message. What we do in the off-hours speaks equal volumes, if not more, than those spent on the clock. Thankfully, with cyberspace’s countless cost-effective tools at your fingertips, it’s easy to become a recognized thought leader and to make your voice heard.

3 Meet and Greet

These words will change your life: You are who you know. Via such services as LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Facebook, it’s easy to connect with peers and potential mentors worldwide. Also, becoming active in online forums and professional organizations, as well as attending virtual trade shows, can provide career-making contacts. Given that more than 80 percent of actual job openings go unpublished, it literally pays to mingle.

4 Stand Out

With so much white noise out there, it’s imperative you stay at the top of people's minds. Website posts, newsletters, Twitter updates, press releases, stories freely swapped with trade journals in exchange for a published link or a personal bio -- they all make effective self-promotions. While there’s a fine line between annoyance and assertiveness, one can’t afford to be coy. Remember: The greater your visibility, the likelier you’ll be clients’ first port of call.

*Note from the editors: More than one billion people have tapped author, entrepreneur, and TV/radio host Scott Steinberg’s (www.scottsteinberg.com) expertise on careers and technology. Remember what he said about staying visible and standing out? Then maybe you should take a second look.