7 (Less Expensive) Ways to Grow Your PM Skills

PMI Southern Ontario Chapter

Bruce is the founder of ProjectManagementHacks.com, a resource for growing IT project managers.

Improving your project management skills requires high-priced training, right? I have seen courses and seminars offered on agile, scheduling and exam preparation for $1,000+. Certainly, that is one approach to developing your knowledge. What if you need a different way to develop yourself—and you have a limited budget? There is a way to make this happen without breaking the bank.

1. The $100 coffee card: Ever heard the phrase “your network is your net worth?” It’s doubly true for project managers who must rely on their network of relationships to get work done during projects. For project consultants and contractors, your network is where your best opportunities will come from.

The $100 coffee card strategy is based on a simple but highly effective premise: Over the course of a year (or a few months if you are keen to grow your career faster), spend $100 on taking friends and contacts out for coffee. If one coffee meeting costs about $5, you can organize 20 coffee meetings for $100. I recommend 10 meetings with people you already know, and 10 with new people. Arrange two meetings per week to keep this approach manageable.

To get started, you need two steps. Buy a coffee card. Find one person you’d like to get to know and ask them to coffee to chat about projects and related themes. That’s all it takes to get started.

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"If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes and the quitting time."

- Chinese Proverb

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