29 Sep 2020

Why Networking is so Important for Project Managers

Networking
Why Networking is so Important for Project Managers

We’ve all heard the saying “it’s not what you know but who you know” and within some industries this is certainly more important than in others. However, for project managers networking is fundamental.

Here Nik Ruparel, from ProNexus Careers provides a guide to networking as a project manager to help build your connections.

While networking can take you out of your comfort zone, thankfully these days networking can take on many different forms and does not have to be as daunting as perhaps it once was.

 

BENEFITS OF NETWORKING:

  • It can secure your next contract or client.

  • Help you find a like-minded ally and supporter or just someone that can be relied upon to listen and provide advice.

  • By talking to others, you can keep up to date with what is happening in the project management profession or even in your specific industry and keep abreast of the latest technology, software and knowledge that will help you in your role as a project manager.

“The time to build a network is always before you need one” business leader, Douglas Conant.

 

TYPES OF NETWORKING

Face to face events: The traditional form of networking for project managers has typically been in person and as we look to the new year we may see more face to face events again, providing opportunity for connecting with other professionals.

Webinars and virtual events: In the meantime, attending online events is a good way to continue networking and ensure your project management knowledge and skills stay up to date.

Community of practice: If there is an area of project management you’re particularly interested in, there are CoP groups that you can join. These groups provide you with the opportunity to be connected with other project managers that you have a shared interest with and also help you build on your knowledge in this area.

Social Networks: According to Bill Gates, "The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow”. Social networking on platforms such as LinkedIn can facilitate an introduction that may otherwise be hard to come by.

 

BEFORE ATTENDING A NETWORKING EVENT:

As referenced a little earlier, networking can be dauting, but there are certainly things that can be done prior to an event to make this less overwhelming. Far too often little or no homework is done around who may be at an event and the likely interactions you may have.

To begin the process of creating meaningful relationships, the expectation is that you are interested in the subject matter in question. Whether you are attending a physical or online event the same principles apply – you’re there to learn from others, build on your project management knowledge and improve your skillset as a project professional. 

  • Consider your goals: Whether the event is in person or virtually, it is important to set some time aside to consider what you would like to achieve by attending. For instance, if you’re attending a virtual event where a particular subject is going to be covered, consider whether there are any questions you would like to ask the presenters beforehand.

  • Be authentic: When networking, be genuine with the person or group you’re speaking to. Remember everyone is in the same position as you and are looking to learn and grow in their profession by networking.

  • Follow up. Too often in either professional or social settings, there is little or no follow up. After an event, you can stay connected with a simple thank you or nice to see you email.

  • Be realistic. Networking takes time - it’s not a race to collect the most business cards. Try not to be too harsh with yourself, keep at it and over time you will build a genuine network of likeminded professionals.

 

WHAT ABOUT PERSONAL NETWORKS?

This is an interesting topic and is often overlooked as there is a perception that personal lives and business should be kept separate.

One thing to recognise is that personal networking is not about making use of personal contacts. Instead it’s about making new connections that may not necessarily be in your profession who can offer a fresh outlook and new ways of thinking.

 

NETWORKING IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE

Whilst we are all facing challenging times, the current environment may offer a significant opportunity to network with new people. Take this time to begin the journey of building relationships (not just connections). Remember this is a journey, it does take time and often it can be uncomfortable but certainly worth it in the long run. As a professional in the project management industry, relationships are a significant part of your role and can prove to be important to your overall success.

Some individuals may tend to gravitate to one form of networking, whether it be face-to-face or utilising social networks. You have various options for networking at your disposal, so utilising a hybrid approach may produce the most impactful results.

While networking can initially be uncomfortable, remember those that make it look natural were probably just like you once and persisted to get to the place they’re in now.

 

Ready to start networking? See upcoming project management events available at the Australian Institute of Project Management or check out our online AIPM Community platform


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