Students attend technician education programs to gain the skills and knowledge needed for productive, rewarding work. NSF’s STEP project (Social Technology Enabled Professional) found that often those jobs are within established companies. However, with roughly 6.7 million jobs lost since the current recession began, many technicians are seeking additional work to supplement their income and to start their own businesses. Most small businesses are started by technicians, people who are skilled at something. But the “fatal assumption” is that if you can do the technical work, your business will succeed. To be successful, technician business owners, and those working for established companies, must learn to build relationships with customers.
Today’s new media skills are powerful, low-cost, accessible, and necessary resources to help technicians build those relationships. This important use of online social networks is promoted by websites such as Small Biz Bee, which provides small businesses with a top 40 list of the best social networking sites. In a difficult economy, these new media skills can be the lifeline of many technicians seeking to develop a professional reputation that attracts and retains customers. Although all technicians do not need to become entrepreneurs, it is commonly understood among successful organizations that to conduct business in today’s business world connected by technology (e.g., interact with customers and grow a strong business base), all technicians must think and act like entrepreneurs. Technician education programs that include these skills in their curricula will be more attractive to today’s students who understand the power of the Internet in building social and business networks.