January 18, 2002
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In your high-tech career it may seem that your job is merely making computers
work or helping others make their computers work. In fact, your job can
be much more. Your clients, especially the smaller companies, could use
a good source of business information, as well as computer savvy. You
could expand your career by becoming the source for this information,
especially at the point where business knowledge and computer knowledge
A little advice
As you might imagine, you are not an expert in every aspect of a business,
but often you develop specialties outside of your computer skills. Perhaps
you have a background in purchasing, shipping or accounting. If you can
combine your knowledge of these areas with your computer skills you can
make yourself more marketable and expand your career. Search out clients
that need your unique combination of skills. In some cases, this could
open up an entirely new market for you. In these leaner times, this could
mean the difference between red and black ink on your balance sheet this
In a personal example, I have needed to learn quite a bit about bookkeeping
using Quickbooks software to manage the finances of my own business. While
I am far from an accounting expert, I can offer additional assistance,
beyond the workings of Quickbooks itself. I have learned the importance
of matching your chart of accounts with that of your accountant and how
to easily pass data off to the accountant when they need it. Nothing grand,
but an additional service I can provide above and beyond simple computer
skills makes me more valuable to my clients.
When people ask me for advice in moving from their current career into
a high-tech career, one of the first recommendations I make is to find
clients who need not only their high-tech skills but also the skills from
their previous career. This can provide them an easier transition from
one career to another.
Perhaps you have a marketing background and understand the ins and outs
of direct mail. That knowledge, combined with your knowledge of computer
databases and mailing list programs adds value to your services and makes
you even more important to the company or companies for which you work.
Whatever you do, don’t oversell your skills or try to offer advice
in areas you don’t know well. As I discussed few weeks ago, trust
is one of the main factors that insures a long and healthy high-tech career.
Leading your clients astray, even accidentally, could bring it all crashing
down around your ears.
Expanding your horizons
The ability to combine business skills and computer skills can help you
build your career in other ways. Perhaps you could start offering classes,
workshops or seminars on your area of expertise and the computer skills
necessary to make it work. Maybe you have developed your own methods of
creating digital art and can share that with other artists that are looking
to move into the medium. You can also research the possibility of teaming
up with an expert in another field so that, together, you can provide
both the business and technical skill necessary to help your clients in
a one-stop shop. A good partnership can allow you to do more together
than you ever could separately.
Never stop looking for opportunities to combine your interests and aptitudes.
Anyone can become bored and burnt out when they focus on one element to
the exclusion of all else. Combining your interests can lead you to new
clients, new business, maybe even a new career. Happy people do the best
work. If you find yourself loathing the morning alarm clock, maybe you
need a change. What could be better than a change that not only makes
you more fulfilled in your life, but also offers that possibility of expanding
I am always looking for good examples to share with others through this
column. If you have found a way to combine your computer skills with other
interests, drop me a line at the email address below. Better yet, join
the Career-Op mailing list (http://www.welchwrite.com/dewelch/ce/) and
share your tips and hints with others.