Six tips for getting what you deserve

Network execs offer advice to help you gun for that next promotion and fatten up your paycheck.

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Before you go in for your next annual review or promotion interview, you would be wise to consider these tips for ensuring you've got the right stuff to move ahead.

  1. Track your accomplishments throughout the year. Networking, especially its successes, tends to go unnoticed by upper management. "You need to be your own best advocate," says Sheri Lindholm, IT manager at Northwest Kia Megastores in Wenatchee, Wash. "Because if you're doing your job well, they won't be aware of all the little things - and all the major things - you do, because you've just handled them." Lindholm, who regularly billed $145 per hour at her previous position as a consultant, recommends keeping track of your environment on a weekly or monthly basis, and having those numbers on hand when it comes to review time. "Show them actual numbers and it bolsters your case," she says. "When I came onboard here a little over a year ago, we were at 52 PCs and three servers. Now we're at 75 PCs and five servers. So I can say look, I've not only handled the growth and stayed on top of it, but I've also handled new initiatives as well."

  2. Quantify savings to the business. Lindholm says she also tracks any savings from IT initiatives to the business at large. "We recently cut our cell phone service expenses by more than half because I took it upon myself to go and do the research and get everyone switched over," she says. "That's not something they notice necessarily, but when you can show them the actual savings, you're golden."

  3. Align your goals with those of upper management. Don't be shy about learning what your boss's goals are (or even his boss's goals) and making sure you're all on the same page. "I regularly request the goals and objectives of the folks above me, as well as the folks in the other lines of business, just to understand the direction they're going in," says Bruce Sachetti, director of enterprise architecture at ADT Security Services in Boulder, Colo. "Not only does it help keep us from getting blindsided by new initiatives coming out from other parts of the organization, it also establishes yourself as a partner."

  4. Become a revenue generator. Most organizations view IT as just a cost of doing business, but if you can turn that around and make your group a revenue generator, you're well on your way to the corporate upper echelons. "Our IT group has been spun off into a separate group to service other companies as well as the bank, so it's become a revenue-generating center rather than just a cost of doing business," says Joel Hofman, a vice president and senior network engineer at JRI America, Inc., the New York IT subsidiary of financial services firm Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group. "It opens you up to new challenges, but also new opportunities, all of which helps when it comes time to moving up the ladder."

  5. Learn the business. Rather than focus on getting certifications, network executives looking to move to the next level should consider learning more about the business side of things. This may include pursuing business-oriented degrees, such as an MBA, but it also means getting to know your own business inside and out. "You need that big-picture understanding of working toward a budget, [profit and loss statements], and the role of the various functions in a large organization and how they play into IT," Sachetti says. "You can't move beyond the tech side without that kind of knowledge."

  6. Shed the techie persona. "Gone are the days when an IT person just sits in a padded room, and they feed you Coke and Cheetos and all you do is fix stuff," Lindholm says, adding that network types looking to move up should dress the part, even to the point of donning business attire and a tie when necessary. Net execs need to attend meetings and understand the business processes and practices. They need to know what's going on in the market and the world - the threats for security and everything else - and be able to offer up information on the fly when they ask for it. Only the ones who are up to that kind of challenge can work their way up.

Learn more about this topic

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