Categories: Best Practices
Last week I attended my first formal networking how-to event. I was curious to learn about the differences and similarities between general networking and networking for project success.
What interested me the most 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. In all my training sessions, I always repeat the statement "90 percent of a project management job is communication."
In fact, I go as far as to say networking is a skill that can lead to project success. For example, networking comes in handy in the following areas:
On projects we talk to all our internal and external stakeholders on a regular basis. Therefore, we 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 because 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
- dentify 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.
Project managers must have networking skills to successfully engage, lead and build the team. These skills will enable the project manager to be a mentor and leader of the team.
Project managers should network with their teams to delegate, collaborate, motivate and ensure they work together.
With interpersonal skills:
Networking 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.
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.
What do you think is a networking best practice? Is project success dependent on a project manager's networking abilities? What benefits has networking brought to your projects? What role has networking played in your projects?