Just when you thought it might be safe to go back into the labor pool again, the water has become a little more treacherous.

While you’ve spent a lot of time and resources trying to patch holes in your field staff, unbeknownst to you, you’ve sprung another leak. You may not be taking on water yet, but for some companies, it is only a matter of time.

If you have been keeping up with the Internet craze, either as a business-to-business e-commerce member or a business-to-customer retailer, you know that conducting everyday transactions on the web is becoming an essential part of your success. Your business depends on lead generation and a constant stream of information on technological breakthroughs, new products, and training.

It’s not enough to hire a web-master to create an appealing and informative website. Taking the first step is essential, but it is only a first step. Following up and updating your Internet presence (your website) is absolutely essential in order to keep up with your customers, many of whom are web-savvy beyond your expectations.

The News has touted the importance of having a website for a long time. There is no need to belabor that point. It’s now time to belabor another point: finding the right person to maintain your web presence.

Staffing your Web site

In many cases, that person may already be on a contractor’s staff, but it’s a good bet that the person and the position don’t even exist yet. In fact, a recent independent poll showed that 85% of current kindergarten students will hold jobs that don’t even exist today.

Business owners and key management people often shoulder the burden of creating and maintaining a website. But that task is time-consuming and requires an increasing need for tech-savvy skills.

Enter the e-manager. You probably haven’t heard that position mentioned around the office very often. The position is relatively new, spawned by ongoing Internet explosion.

The e-manager’s position is being defined now, and it is an important one. You can ignore the need for filling this new position or you can act — the choice is yours.

What does an e-manager do? The person has one specific job description: Manage the company’s Internet business. Let’s break that down into a few specific duties:

  • Maintain and update the website, including adding news and information about company products and services, and posting staff openings (request résumés, etc.).

  • Research and review data relevant to the contractor’s company.

  • Police company usage of Internet e-mail and keep an eye on web surfing (although there may be a separate department handling this duty).

  • Train other staff members on some of the basics of being an e-manager, in order to ensure smooth transitions during vacations, illnesses, etc.

  • Have a basic knowledge of Internet laws and website usage, and keep up with new legal developments.

  • Be willing to be part of an ongoing educational process, ensuring that the company is aware of business trends and technological advances.

I’m sure that many other duties fall on the shoulders of an e-manager. I would like you contractors to let me know about your e-manager position (if your company has one), and how you stay abreast of the fluid Internet community.

Your e-manager must wear a contractor hat and a business manager’s hat. If you are fortunate enough to find a person with those skills, hang on and don’t let go.

E-commerce is as important to your brick-and-mortar business today as the customer who walks through your front door. Take this new trend seriously.