Are you a Project Manager who uses networking skills as a tool for managing your team and projects?
Networking is a must have skill for all professionals and executives. Recruiters increasingly look for ‘strong networking skills’ in prospective employees. Individuals with these skills can attract higher salaries, visibility and better promotion prospects. Increasingly organisations encourage employees to network to enhance organisational profile, competitiveness and maximise business opportunities.
Last week I attended my first formal ‘how to network’ event in the swanky Capital club at Bahrain Financial Harbour. The event was well attended by professionals of diverse ethnic and industry backgrounds. What united us all was the trending topic of ‘Networking’. What interested me was a slide detailing three types of networks:
Operational, Personal and Strategic.
In the project environment networking for Operational, Personal and Strategic goals is a core competency for project managers and team members. Throughout the project life cycle we network! In my training sessions I always repeat the statement ‘90% of PM job is communication!’ In fact I go as far as to say networking as a skill that can lead to project success. For example networking comes in handy in the following areas:
- Operationally & strategically it is critical to identify stakeholders and gather requirements. On projects we talk to all our internal and external stakeholders on a regular basis and therefore have to network.
- We network to acquire and manage resources, vendors and contractors and also to ascertain and explore risks, strengths and opportunities for the project.
- Our personal objectives can be met as well managed, informed and engaged stakeholders equals a happier Project Manager.
In Project Communications Planning:
Project objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound). Similarly project-networking activities should be smart too.
Networking Activities should:
- Assess the quality of working relationships
- Identify where better relationships are required in order to complete the project
- Develop a wide support network
- Follow up on tasks or commitments
- Build and maintain relationships to get the job done
- Focus and pursue the right networks understand where they fit in and how to communicate with them effectively, know their likes and dislikes and what motivates them.
Within the Project Team
Project managers must have networking skills to successfully engage, lead and build the team. These skills will enable the PM to be a mentor and leader of the team.
With Networking Interpersonal skills:
Can help project managers build self-confidence, and devote time and strategy to build and reciprocate through meaningful networks. Plus, meeting others and finding common ground and mutual areas of benefit and collaboration is always helpful to a project manager.
The PMI states that ‘in addition to domain specific knowledge and skills’ Project Managers should possess ‘cross cutting knowledge and skills’ such as
- Active listening
- Conflict resolution
- Cultural sensitivity
- Data gathering
- Presentation skills
- Relationship management
Reference: PMI PMP examination content outline – July 2011
Benefits for Project Managers:
- Deliver the project work as required
- Balance triple constraints
- Satisfy stakeholders
- Draw people towards you and raise your personal profile
- Make your life easier
- Reinforce your reputation as a competent project manager and an asset to the organisation.
- By using networks available project members can align deliverables and tasks to the projects objective.
I can confidently assume that since the history of projects good project managers have been networking out of necessity or risk project failure.
Certainly in my own case I have been naturally ‘networking’ without really knowing that I was doing it. The difference now is that I am more aware.
Has networking brought benefits to your projects?