MANAGING REL ATIONSHIPS
BY SHEILINA SOMANI, FAPM, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Over the past few years, the term networking has become synonymous with, “What can you do for me?” Undoubtedly, many people pursue connections just to seek referrals or employment opportunities. There are far greater benefits to be had, however.
Therefore it is with considerable pleasure that I can report having had a very different experience with colleagues at a recent PMI chapter meeting. Having happily renewed old acquaintances and made some new ones, I was reminded that the real value of networking is the sense of community it creates.
READY… SET… NETWORK!
Make the most of networking events by going in prepared:
Think about why you're going to that particular event or meeting.
If there's someone you especially want to meet or share some information with, contact them beforehand to set up an appointment at a specific place and time.
Use nature's balance of two ears and one mouth—listen more than you speak.
Take business cards with you, offering them when you're asked or when you want to follow up on something specific at a later date.
Before jumping in, ask if you can join a group or pose a question.
Be genuinely interested when asking a question and listen to the whole answer.
When you're listening, focus on the speaker. (Most people are busy preparing a rebuttal or their next question.)
Aim to talk with three new people each time you attend an event—to get over any shyness, widen your experiences and enjoy new acquaintances.
We can learn from one another by reviewing past experiences, sharing résumé advice, and helping each other focus on achieving personal and professional success.
Talking to one another about challenges, successes and inspirational events creates positive energy. Whether we were discussing our personal and professional lives or talking about social events, books or films, it was refreshing to enjoy interaction without personal agenda. And it was all done without the undertone of, “What's in it for me?”
Attending events both global and local helps us to stay in touch with current work practices. We can direct each other to new websites and reference materials we've enjoyed or found helpful. We can also learn from one another by reviewing past experiences, sharing résumé advice, and helping each other focus on achieving personal and professional success.
Given the prevailing economic instability and reduced earnings for many project professionals, having a community can make the situation more bearable.
Networking is about getting to know people—their needs, preferences and experiences. Its value lies in learning more about others as well as yourself. If you happen to gain some work out of it, consider that a bonus. At the very least, you'll emerge from a networking event having identified individuals who share your values, humor and passions. And you may even make some friends for life. PM
Sheilina Somani, FAPM, PMP, is the owner of U.K.-based Positively Project Management, which provides consulting, mentoring and development services.
PM NETWORK MAY 2010 WWW.PMI.ORG