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Getting promoted -- Part II: Think business first

As you move from being a technical contributor into higher management positions, your focus must shift from understanding every last technology detail to understanding the business. You will be measured on how well you help managers use technology to achieve company goals, anticipate problems and opportunities, organize projects, utilize resources, and meet deadlines.

"Technology professionals are called upon to deliver ever-increasing amounts of technical information to non-technical users and managers," says Greg Scileppi, executive director of RHI Consulting (http://www.rhic.com). "Whether they're strategizing IT initiatives with senior executives or training end-users to operate a new system, skilled technologists are most effective if they can communicate complex information in lay terms and in a non-threatening manner."

Determine the best way to acquire the additional skills you'll need -- through self-study, seminars, vendor training, distance learning, college courses, mentoring, special assignments, lateral moves, etc.

Request a meeting with your manager to discuss your desire for promotion and review your plan. Volunteer for projects or lateral moves that will help you grow and broaden your exposure to the company's strategy, business plan, markets, customers, and competitors, as well as increase your visibility with influential managers. Keep a record of everything you do that enhances the company's bottom line, that is innovative, and that shows your commitment to the company. And never let your ethics slide.

"Know your customers. They are the boss. If you make them happy, success is yours," says Dale Neaudette, SHR manager, Microsoft Gaming Zone (http://www.zone.com).

Linda Gail Christie, M.A., is a contributing editor based in Tulsa, OK.

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