Professional networking tips for prosperous project leaders.
Research shows that professional networks are a critical
advantage for project managers to achieve project results. Some of
the benefits of cultivating a strong professional network are:
Having the ability to call an influential manager or technical
expert at 8 PM on Sunday and get an issue resolved, without formal
Raise your visibility and possibility of being selected for prime
Knowing who the top talent is to pursue when building your project
Not being first in line to receive a pink slip in your department.
Having a better work environment due to a support network of peers.
Contributing to projects that you are not formally assigned to work
If you choose to not build your professional
network, then you will find yourself slaving away over your project
plans late at night while network-savvy project managers are
promoted over you. Professionals have seen the benefit of networking
for generations including free masons during the middle ages,
fraternities in colleges and international civic organizations. You
should take your professional networking responsibility as seriously
as your morning coffee and exercise your networking rights.
Here are the top networking tips for
Prosperous Project Leaders.
Build your relationships not your pile of business cards. Networking
is about building one-on-one relationships with people for your
mutual benefit. Networking is not the insincere flattery,
"take-my-business-card-while-I-look-over-your-shoulder" activity at
professional gatherings which makes you want to dump the business
card in the closet trash can. There is no such thing as a
substantial network of contacts, without a level of depth to the
relationships with the people in the network.
Learn and get to know people that you can help who are not yet at
your level of professional success. Also reach out to get to know
people who have achieved greater levels of professional success. You
can help people who are at different points on professional
Have the mindset of "Give without keeping score". It seems counter
intuitive- yet is in your own self interest because it is too much
effort to keep score of "I helped Johnny now he must help me".
Enjoy chance networking opportunities at events. The ultimate
networking benefit is to meet people that you would never normally
encounter. As a project manager, enjoy networking with people that
you don't normally interact with, such physicians and small business
owners at service club events.
Network to build long term relationships for mutual benefit. Not for
one-night stands. Don't go into it for "This is what I get out of
it, and will discard you faster than a used tissue when I see
someone who looks more interesting."
Go to professional association meetings and introduce yourself. Make
small talk. Sit with people you don't know and learn about them.
Take business cards in case you need them, but don't impose your
business cards on every person that you meet. Only keep them handy
if someone is genuinely interested in getting more information from
The best focus for any networking encounter is to ask "How can I
sincerely help other people at this event?"
Read books on networking. Many books have been written on this
subject, because professional networking is so important. However,
make sure that you focus on networking to build long-term
You do not have to be local to network with your project team and
leaders within your company. Being a remote worker and part of a
virtual team is no excuse for not networking and building
professional relationships. Current technology brings people
together from all over the world to deliver projects. Use every
opportunity that you can to speak with people, ask about their
challenges and see if you can help them to find solutions. If you
can't do it in person then do it over the phone.
Always be prepared to network. Have something to say while you are
thinking of something to say. Be versed on current news issues so
that you can talk about them with an opinion when you attend events
that encourage networking.
aware of how you have developed professional relationships in the
past. How can you duplicate the process to develop new professional
relationships in future for mutual benefit?
Take a few moments to think about how you benefit and provide value
in current professional relationships. If you have this value in
current relationships, how can you get the same value in future
Expand your networking beyond your office walls. Go to professional
association events in your city and regional conferences. Volunteer
for charity events where you are likely to meet people that could
benefit from your contributions.
Although social media is not a substitute for creating new
relationships, it is a good vehicle to strengthen existing
relationships. Use social media to stay in touch with professional
peers and project team members.
Pick up the tab when you ake people out to lunch. Go somewhere nice
to enjoy the meal and
the company. You learn far more from a millionaire over lunch than
the cost of even the most expensive meal. Similarly, you will learn
a ton from a lunch with an expert in the field. I have paid for
lunch with professionals in a variety of fields including
professional speakers, small business owners and successful
consultants. Each meal yielded dramatic return on investments in the
information provided during the conversation and the long-term
In summary, enjoy the journey. Networking is fun don't make it
tedious. Enjoy meeting people and engaging them in conversation. You
will learn from them and possibly even be able to help each other
Don't worry if your networking efforts don't yield immediate
results. They will yield returns over a period of time if you keep
on networking and building long term relationships.
There is no time like the present. Build your network now. Who can
you invite out to lunch this week?