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Project Managers: Importance of Networking
By Michelle Symonds

Have you ever attended a workshop on budget management or a seminar with a project management expert and wondered whether there is really any point in attending? The point is that every event like this is an opportunity to network, which is an essential part of being a successful project manager. Taking part in an excellent project management course gives you lots of amazing new skills to apply to your job role, but most won’t teach you about networking because it’s a part of project management that can be massively undervalued.

Here are a few tips on getting networking right:

  • Don’t ‘sell’, ask

    Don’t assume networking is all about selling yourself and your skills. The main focus of networking is finding opportunities, talking to business owners and finding out about any issues or problems they may have that you could potentially help with.

    Often people can approach networking with a ‘sell’ attitude, focusing on talking about themselves and their skillset to business owners who are open to being engaged in conversation, but often closed to ‘sell’ focused situations where they are being blasted with information about a person who has no interest in a two way conversation. Standing and talking about yourself and your job continually is a missed opportunity, and you won’t gain from the situation. When you ask people what they do, engage with them in conversation, everyone has something to offer whether it’s information on social networking, potential job opportunities or new connections to an industry you’re interested in.

  • Build relationships at work

    Project managers need to have excellent rapport and relationship with their colleagues. Spend time nurturing and cultivating relationships with those you work with. This could yield results in the future and improve the perceived success of present projects.

  • Everyone does it

    Perhaps your role doesn’t involve finding new business to bring to the organization you work for, but it is likely that you’re still expected to network and understand the industry as part of your job. By networking you are able to gain lots of information that will enable you to understand new projects quickly. Networking means learning how to talk to people, and by learning how to do this, you learn how to quickly pick up the information you need to understand and plan a new project.

  • It will boost your confidence

    By networking you will feel more knowledgeable about the current marketplace and you’ll get a fresh insight into issues facing those you’ve made contact with. This information is invaluable as it enables you to perform risk management much more effectively. If you deal with stakeholders frequently you’ll have a much wider pool of information to use when they ask the all important question – ‘what do I gain from this project?’

  • It broadens your horizons

    There are many jobs that go unadvertised and they are either taken up by employees within the company or by contacts an employer has within the industry. If you want to be considered by another company for a higher paid promotion or you wanted to be promoted within your own company, you have to network so you give yourself the opportunity to find out about these openings.

  • Networking only ever brings positivity

    If you approach it right, you’ll meet new people, new business owners, bring more business to your company and find out about new career opportunities. It may not feel relevant now, but it could open doors in the future so it’s always worth approaching it positively as you never know what’s around the corner. Networking is great advice for project managers – it does work and could give your career a real boost.

Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.

There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.

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