The days when you can just cruise by and expect to advance your career based-on your finely-honed IT skills, alone, are fading fast. Companies are increasingly asking for more. They’re looking for well-rounded IT gurus who are supremely business-savvy, have sharp communications skills, and are on top of the latest IT trends within their particular sector of the industry. That means you need to possess that extra something special that goes beyond the status quo if you hope to move up the career ladder in your field. If you’re not already working hard to boost your business acumen and people skills, then you should be. Here are some good places to start boosting your business skills as an IT geek:
Stay current on what’s happening in your field – Read lots of books, magazines, and websites that pertain to your area of expertise. Understand the business, itself, and the latest issues surrounding it, including the hottest trends and cutting edge innovations in the industry. Employers will value your expanded knowledge. Plus, demonstrating ideas on how to help drive business forward will give you an advantage over the competition.
Branch out and expand your skill set – Always keep an eye open for useful training opportunities that’ll give you more skills and abilities to draw from in the future. Diversifying your knowledge base and expanding your usefulness makes you a valuable asset to employers who want something more beyond experience in your core area of expertise. When your prospective employer wants to know what else you can bring to the table, surprising them in a good way always helps your case.
Rekindle the lost art of face-to-face communication – With the massive prevalence of e-mail, texting, social networking, and other electronic form of communication, something is missing in how we interact with clients and co-workers. Brush up on your personability when dealing directly with people — something that can be a bit lacking among the geekier brains in the industry — and the higher-ups will find you an endearing and attractive candidate that gels well with the team. That means taking the time for cordial conversation, using firm handshakes, making eye contact, and exuding confidence without cockiness.
Seek out mentors and peers to communicate and network with – Getting together with colleagues in person to talk shop can be a great way to learn new things, but don’t underestimate the power of online communities and social networking. Industry forums, Twitter, and other online stomping grounds for peers can be a great hotspots to connect with mentors and knowledgeable folks willing to share advice and tips that can put you ahead of the game.
Master the basics of business, including the lingo – It’s worth taking the time to brush up on business basics 101 to ensure you have a firm grasp of the bigger picture beyond your own IT area of expertise. From taking classes and attending seminars to reading guidebooks and researching online, there are a lot of affordable ways to get in the know. Using business-savvy terms when communicating with your employers is just as important, so don’t skimp on getting hip with the lingo.
A willingness to learn, push yourself, and broaden your existing skills can go a long ways toward boosting your career growth potential. Anything you can do to make yourself more business savvy and easier to work with will enhance your chances of pushing upward and onward.