Sheryl Sandberg, COO and board member of Facebook , had a degree in economics and worked as a management consultant and for the Treasury Department before she joined Google to head up its advertising and online sales. She went on to join Facebook, to devise a strategy to make it profitable, and, ultimately, became a high tech billionaire without being a techie.
Meg Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard, former CEO of online auction house eBay became a high tech billionaire without being a techie. Her background was in marketing consumer products. She learned enough about the technology to see how it could satisfy the needs of the consumer and also how she could develop a strategy which would work with the technology. None of this, including running several of the leading high tech companies in the U.S., required her to be a technologist.
Aristotle said: “Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I can move the world.” That might be a tad ambitious but moving your career is a definite and immediate goal.
Technology As Your Lever
One of most effective ways to advance in the new digital workplace, is to focus on technology, how it overlays your business and how you can support your company in continuously improving your technology. Your goal is to understand how to interweave smart strategy with cutting edge technology to improve your business processes, to best serve your customers and allow your company to capture increasing profits. Mastering that interplay is what will propel your career success.
The first hurdle many women must get over is thinking of themselves as “non-techies” and therefore, somehow, excluded from the realm of technological exploration. Sometimes this perception even rises to the level of fear of technology itself. “Oh, don’t bother to show me that, I wouldn’t a.) understand it or b.) know how to work it anyway.”
You have but one choice in today’s digitally driven world: get over it. You need to become tech savvy and fast. None of us can afford to be either ignorant, unaware, or caught up in outdated technologies when we are living through a sea-change in the digitalization of the planet. Unless you want to be left as debris in the wake or perceived as the Ms. Rip Van Winkle of your industry, start ramping up your digital IQ to bring yourself up to speed in adopting and using the latest in technology.
You Don’t Have to Be A Tech, You Just Need to Learn How To Use Technology
As mentioned, a number of business leaders have become high tech millionaires, even billionaires, without being techies. We all make telephone calls without knowing how to assemble a telephone or hook up the lines and networks which enable it to operate. We all know how to get cable or satellite TV without feeling any necessity to become satellite engineers. Learning about the technology which overlays your business is analogous to this, in that you don’t have to understand how every piece of it works, you just have to grasp the principles behind the technology how they impact the results, and how they could be improved.
You may start keeping up with technology and understanding how it overlays business by following reports or RSS newsfeeds from sites like Mashable, TechCrunch, and Wired; also also tracking technology and recommended are FastCompany and Forbes Tech
It’s All About Speed Technology keeps moving forward at blistering speed, changing daily, sometimes hourly, so it’s vital to keep up, keep tuned in and keep your eye on the high speed ball of the new networked, online world. The easiest way to keep up is to start reading those tech feeds on a daily basis. The organization which, as tech guru, Guy Kawasaki , notes “owns the road” on the Net, is Google, so you might want to keep up with them on Google Plus.
All businesses need to find ways to reduce costs and provide better service. New means and uses of digitalization are being introduced daily and many of them can have a profound impact on the profitability of your company. Start reading and learning about how the new online paradigm can impact and help your business. Take a look at what processes can be computerized, how much money could be saved and how to sell that concept to the final decision makers. No need to be a programmer, engineer or technician; simply dig deep enough to understand your company’s processes, what is feasible and which automated processes could result in significant savings and improvements. Ask your tech guy or gal to walk you through some of those processes to familiarize you with what’s going on behind the scenes – how you capture potential customers’ names, how you interact with them, update and deliver to them. The tech piece of that makes a big difference and can make or break a company.
If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, you do not have to master technology to improve your business and your profitability. Just look for online businesses you admire, and use them as your role models. Make a plan to upgrade your company’s online capabilities, then reach out and get help to execute your plan.
Get Help – You Judge the results
You can hire just about any kind of help you need on eLance or one of the other free lancer sites. Just develop criteria of what you want: use other websites or screen shots as examples. Post your job with very clear directions as to what your expectations are for the final result. You don’t have to understand all the technology and tools the provider will use to get you there. You just judge the final result. You can look at provider’s work portfolios before deciding whom you will select to produce the result you want. You can see his or her ranking and comments about the provider before making a decision. You can put the payment in Escrow on eLance and it will not be released to the provider until you are satisfied and click the approve to release funds button. Although it may take you a few tries before you find a provider you may wish to work with on a regular basis, this process will definitely get the job done.
You Have To Start Somewhere
Very likely you are already on Facebook , Twitter or one of the other social networks like Pinterest or Foursquare. But shooting off a quick note to your friends and family is not enough. Both technology and social networking must be incorporated into your work life, into your career or business, in a way that highlights your expertise and develops a platform for your career, enabling others to follow, interact with you and learn more about you and the expertise, service or product you offer.
If you are seriously behind the power curve in adopting technology or increasing your understanding of it, remember, it will never be earlier than today. Start now and keep leveraging up. Don’t put out anything-card, letter, brochure or ad–without your email address and web page address. You have a web page, right? If you don’t , better start developing one now , not an electronic brochure, which gives only static information, but a dynamic site which delivers your story with multiple media – video, graphics, downloadable .pdf files, perhaps a white paper or ebook which you have carefully crafted; one which puts interaction and exchange of information with your customers at the forefront.
Develop a closer relationship with your customers and a deeper understanding of their needs so you can be the first to meet them, or you can learn more ways to serve them.
Clearly, a small business needs a web site. But even as an individual, a web page or web site is an excellent way to facilitate networking and gives you a convenient and appropriate place to post not just your resume but in depth samples of your work like videos of presentations you’ve given. Directing a prospective client or employer to your up to date web page can deepen and sharpen the focus of any conversation about your future collaboration.
If your company has a web site, you should make it a major focus of your attention: how to contribute information to it, what the customers say about it, how it might be improved. Your input can be strategic, directly related to your field, so that you are bringing your own expertise to create synergy with the existing technology, as Meg Whitman did at eBay.
With time and technology on your side, you might actually be able to do what Aristotle proposed, and that is to move your own professional world, just as Amazon.com changed the way people buy, eBay changed the way people traded, Paypal changed the way people paid, Google changed the way people searched, and Apple changed the way people listened to music and used their mobile phone, Facebook changed the way people related to their friends and family and Twitter changed the way we dispersed our thoughts and sometimes news to the world.
With a little help from your technological lever, you, too, can accomplish change.
By Gretchen Glasscock
Hurray! I have one of the top 10% most viewed @LinkedIn profiles for 2012.