Five Tech Skills You Must Know

Subscribe in your email box!

Subscribe in your feed reader!

I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

posted this on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at about 3pm.

reel to reelI have always enjoyed learning new things. I am not necessarily an early adopter but I am definitely interested in learning and understanding technology earlier than the majority.

I believe that we should learn to live effectively in the world around us. In order to accomplish that, we have to understand to tools around us.

I believe that there are a few key technologies that every businessperson should know to operate in today’s marketplace. As a teacher of college students I can confidently say they need to understand these skills as well.

Before I share my list of the most important things to learn, I want to demonstrate how this should work. My father-in-law is a retired farmer. He was a very successful farmer but I am confident he never used a computer. He never learned how to plug in a DVD player. But, he didn’t need to. He needed to understand the tools of his profession. He could fix and drive any tractor. He knew how to work with what he had and, more importantly, he knew how to figure out how to make things work that make a farm a success.

So, understand that these tools are important for people in business and for students. It is simply not acceptable to say, “I don’t know how to do that.” You must know these very basic technologies to make it in today’s business environment.

  • Email. People in business know (hopefully) how to check email. But I am amazed how many people fear to check the settings of their email or change their password. They don’t even know the name of the email application they use. Often times they don’t have a clue how to properly compose or properly format an email. Your email provider always provides your email settings. You should know how to check the settings and see if they match. When using Outlook or any other mail program, you should know how to go to the preferences for your mailbox and type in the settings provided. Don’t know the setting requirements? Ask. Moreover, you should know how to format your email and use salutations and signatures.
  • Skype. Being able to communicate quickly in any collaborative environment allows for greater efficiency. Instant messaging tools, like Skype, are important tools to facilitate communication. You may not use it on a regular basis, but you need to be familiar enough to be able to when the requirement arises. You need to know how to use instant messaging and video chat. Download Skype and connect with someone. Don’t know with whom to connect? contact me and I’ll let you practice.
  • Screenshots. Taking a screenshot of you computer screen is a very easy way to show people what you see. If you have a problem with your computer, you should be able to take a screen shot and send it off to others. There are myriad tools for both Macintosh and Windows… many are free. They allow you to mark the image up and covey you opinions quickly and easily. For Macintosh, you can go here or for Windows, you can go here – Windows XP or here – Windows Vista/7. You can even simplify the whole process, and get cool markup tools by spending a few dollars for Snag It (worth every penny).
  • File Sharing. It used to be, in order to share large files, you would have to have access and know how to use an FTP site. Now, file sharing is made much easier by tools that are readily available online. Never should you say, “I can’t email it because it’s too large.” You should never say, “Let me FedEx you a CD.” Tools like Drop Box and Box make it very easy now. I use Drop Box and I can share large files, for free, without even inviting others to join up. If you are on a Mac, one of the easiest ways to share screenshots and files is with Droplr (I’ve never used it, but there is apparently a Windows Version, too.)
  • Microsoft Word. I’m not talking about how to type or how to choose bold. I’m talking about inserting images, tables, headers, footers and, most importantly, comments & edits. Formatting your Word documents properly can set you apart from others in your organization. Formatting of paragraphs, bullets, numbers and ensuring that it simply looks pretty will go a long way to adding credibility to the way you communicate. Being able to take a document from another then add edits and comments allow you to use the collaborative elements of Word to your advantage. (While you’re at it, learn Excel, too.)

These five areas of tech are basic and fundamental to being able to communicate in today’s online world. Don’t demonstrate your ignorance and not learn how to do these very basic things. You simply do not have the luxury of saying, “I don’t know how to do that.”

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Consulting firm.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?