market your value

We’ve all seen websites designed by someone’s neighbor’s cousin’s step-son’s friend. We’ve probably also had to deal with network problems on a network set up by the business owner’s daughter’s best friend’s uncle. Such scenarios usually include a comment about how it may not be the greatest website or the most perfect network, but at least it was cheap. Or was it? How much money was lost due to poor website design or a business network that wasn’t available? I had a student comment once that we pay for good tools whether we buy them or not. As IT pros, you need to market your value and the value of your department so the people who use your services understand your value.

What is Our Value?

As IT professionals, we must ensure our colleagues, end users, and other customers understand the value we bring to the businesses and other organizations where we work. The problem is that when we’re really good at what we do, we become invisible. In fact, as technology continues to mature, it also becomes invisible, at least in theory. When we, as IT pros, become invisible, the people with whom we work may understandably not see the value in what we do. Our value is in reliability (system uptime), speed of business (communication, collaboration, ecommerce, efficiency of business processes), fast problem resolution (customer support), cost controls (automation), and innovation (new products and new ways of conducting business).

How to Market Your Value

What should we do about this?

  • A CIO at an engineering firm in New York City publishes a monthly newsletter which highlights technology changes and includes a performance report card. If you choose to create a newsletter, keep it short with descriptive headlines. (Headlines are often the only thing people will read.) Here’s a link to a blog post on the top four mistakes people make with newsletters.
  • You can do MBWA or Management by Walking Around, in which you take the time to visit your customers to see how they work and better understand their needs.
  • You can conduct surveys to gain an understanding of the end user’s needs. When you conduct a survey, a side benefit is the fact that you’re conducting the survey keeps you and your department top-of-mind with your end users and other customers. If you choose to conduct a survey, as with the newsletter, keep it short. You can use Survey Monkey to handle the survey.
  • You can also give presentations at company meetings in which you can discuss new technologies and provide performance reports. If you want to try giving presentations, consider joining Toastmasters to practice speaking and get feedback to help you improve. Here’s a link to a post I wrote on 6 Easy Tips for Giving a Great Speech.

If you have additional ideas about how to market your value, please mention them in the comments.

The paradox about our work in IT is that the better you are at IT, the more likely it is that people won’t recognize your value. You must, therefore, be intentional about marketing your value to the people you serve and the people who make decisions in your organization about budgets and programs. Be humble. Don’t be obnoxious about it, but make sure they realize what a great deal they have in you and your department.

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