In the world of project management, individuals come and go all the time. It doesn’t take long for you to become close with the other members of your project team, and unfortunately, if you are working on a project that is particularly demanding then there is a distinct possibility that you could end up seeing more of them than your own family.
When the project is over there is a distinct possibility that everyone will go their own way, join other teams or simply decide to make the move to another company. For any project consultant, it is entirely possible that it could be months before you find yourself working with any of the same people again.
A relationship is something that you need to work on, whether it is in your personal life or in your work life. If you don’t nurture it, then it will die, so if you want to maintain your professional relationships, just like your personal ones, you really need to put the work in.
Reasons you should maintain your project network
Modern life is busy. This may be a cliché, but it is also sadly true. There are a number of reasons that you really need to take the time to look after your professional network. Whilst any of these reasons should be enough on their own when they are added together there really is no excuse for working on these professional relationships.
A network affords you the chance to help others when they face difficulties. Those people who volunteer for things have been found to generally live longer than those who do not. Being someone who contributes to others boosts well-being and allows a person to feel more connected to other people.
Sometimes, particularly when you are time-poor, the best place to find project management skills and tips is through a network. They can also help you with valuable skills. Whilst attending project manager courses will help you to get the right skills for a new role, your network could help you with the new information that may help find a solution for a tricky problem.
If you have lost your job, or your contract has ended then your network could prove invaluable. It is estimated that up to 50% of new jobs in the field are found through network contacts. If you build your career on LinkedIn this will assist you in building a network of professionals who will alert, you to career opportunities when they are needed.
Being a team leader is an incredibly rewarding role and no matter what aspirations you have for your future, being part of a network can really help to assist you with your goals.
How do you build your network?
Beyond the people you work with, do you know any other project professionals? This is how you can measure how strong your network is. Here are just a few ideas of how you can actually work on building your network.
Look for professional bodies
Your local PMI chapter can be a great place to start. They often have regular presentations, and they may even have opportunities for people to volunteer to speak, help with events or even work on a website. This is also a good way for you might be able to earn PDUs.
Talk to other individuals in project management
Mention to your colleagues that you are interested in growing your network and ask them to introduce you to project managers at other companies.
Do some research and find events that you could attend. For example, in the UK the APM conference is a very good event to attend.
If you read an interesting article in project management, either in the press or an industry publication then send them an email you might have a question to ask or you could simply thank them for writing something interesting.
Enrol on a course
Training for project managers is a great way to meet other people who are in the same field as you. There is a good chance that the other people attending a course will also be looking to build their network, so this is mutually beneficial to everyone.
Your community network
If you want a strong network, then diversity is really important. When you mix with other professionals then you will be listening to new ideas and perspectives. In addition to this, serving your community is a good way to help make the world a better place. Networking in your community can however be difficult, and sometimes it is hard to know where to start. There are however some good options available to you – check out any local community Facebook pages, for example.
Teaching and Education
Higher Education is a great place to start, and if you aren’t already make sure that you are involved in the alumni association for your university. There might be opportunities to support students, be a guest speaker or even teach things like literacy skills within the community. You may also find that some high schools look for individuals in a range of professions in order to offer career talks to their students.
Chambers of commerce and business clubs can also be useful. These are both places you will find in many cities, and they are great places for people from all types of industries to meet. You can utilise project management skills to assist an organisation with anything from improving their technology to planning an event. Of course, you should wait to be asked before you do this otherwise your networking will be less than successful. If they ask for volunteers then so for it, this could really get you on the right people’s lists.
Fundraisers for charity
Again, most cities will have all kinds of charitable fundraisers so find out what is going on.
The essential thing to do when it comes to networking is to get out there and be social. If you are not making the effort to meet people, then you are not going to have any success with your networking.