I know that many project managers have an interesting career dilemma, in that it can be difficult to build and maintain a professional network. A large number of project management positions (especially consulting ones) involve temporary placement within a team or company, with the placement ending with the conclusion of the project. Placements can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year, but often times the turnover is a few months, and then you’re on to working on the next project with a new team. With the combination of the new team, new project, & new demands and the brevity of each project, it can be hard to maintain connections with the other teams you worked with.
But, as any business professional knows, it’s important to build relationships and have a strong network. If you are the kind of project manager that jumps from project to project, there’s a few different ways that you can overcome the obstacles and build a strong professional network.
Take Advantage of As Many Networking Opportunities As Possible
While it may be hard to interact with people outside of the project that you’re managing, there are some easy ways to touch base with other departments and employees within that company.
- Keep abreast of the company-wide emails. If you’re managing a project at a large corporation, it’s likely that you’ll be included on the email list that receives company announcements. These can be your key to hearing about events taking place that you should be attending. But these emails can also give you a glimpse at the management & executives, and alert you to who you should get to know in the company.
- Go to Company Parties & Events. Attending parties and company events may feel a bit awkward, especially if you don’t know many people at the company. But, not knowing anyone is exactly why you should attend; the out-of-office activities present a great opportunity to create organic connections with people you don’t have the opportunity to interact with during the normal workday.
- Organize Your Own Outings. If you’re in a space where there aren’t that many events for your company, take that opportunity to organize your own outing. Organize a lunch or a happy hour with your project team. Encourage your team to invite people that aren’t on your project, and it can become a small-scale networking event for yourself.
There’s more to building a network than just meeting people though!
Check back next month to learn about the second step of the networking process: Maintaining Your Network.