As a project manager, you interact with dozens of people from different departments and companies every day. Nurturing these relationships is vital to the success of the projects that you lead.
Building connections with the right people at the right time can also help you take the next step in your career. 79% of people say that networking is vital to their career progression, as employee referrals account for 40% of all hires.
The benefits of networking go beyond utilitarian goals, too. Networking can help you improve your communication skills and boost your confidence.
Hone Communication Skills
Effective communication is vital for project management. Without clear and concise communication, your projects are doomed to fail. Networking events allow you to hone your communication skills and make connections that last.
Try to attend a combination of in-person and virtual networking events. Today, being able to communicate effectively over video conferencing software is just as important as face-to-face communication. Remote events allow you to experiment with remote video software and ensure that you aren’t the one holding up the call when it matters.
Your communication skills should extend to online channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, too. Being social-media-savvy is increasingly important for project managers, as you need to represent yourself professionally online.
Give yourself the best chance of success by posting to LinkedIn when more of your peers are online. The best time to post on LinkedIn on weekdays is early in the morning between 7 to 8:30 a.m. Alternatively, you can post between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., as your peers will likely check the social platform again during their lunch breaks.
Posting online and developing your communication skills can help you build lasting relationships and discover industry insights that other project managers can only dream of.
Gain Industry Knowledge
Industry knowledge is integral to the success of your upcoming projects. Having connections with their ear to the ground can help you identify trends and mitigate risk. However, folks don’t just give industry knowledge away to strangers. You have to network effectively to build trust and make mutually beneficial connections.
If you work in a coworking space, you have a fantastic opportunity to network with those around you. Maintain relationships with the regulars who visit your work area and attend networking events in the space. You never know who you’ll meet while picking up coffee or browsing the breakfast bar, so keep your professional networking hat on at all times.
Boost Your Confidence
Networking is a difficult skill to learn. Most of us find networking to be a little uncomfortable, as it requires you to go beyond your comfort zone and make connections with complete strangers. However, successful networking can boost your confidence and self-esteem.
Start networking in low-stakes environments. Build a LinkedIn profile with professional office headshots, and reach out to old connections from school or university. You may be surprised by the career path your friends have taken and can find value in reaching out and reconnecting. Also, consider using a LinkedIn summary generator to create a strong profile that highlights your skills and experience.
Ask to attend events like trade shows and conferences. These events are great for building professional connections and everyone in attendance is excited to build professional relationships. Networking at events is a great way to boost your confidence and develop leadership skills that will serve you well in the future.
Find A Professional Mentor
Mentorship is widely undervalued in the business world. However, a great mentor will quickly build your network and give you access to influential figures in your industry. 87% of mentors and mentees say that mentorship is important for career growth and mentees are five times more likely to land a promotion than their peers.
When searching for a professional mentor, consider someone who resonates with your personality and has had a varied career. A good mentor should have a wide array of experience and should be forthcoming with their knowledge and insights.
As a mentee, you can do your part by bringing an engaged, positive attitude to each mentorship session. Your mentor will appreciate your can-do attitude and will be more likely to put you in touch with their connections if you show that you are ready and up for a challenge.
Build Better Relationships
Actively networking helps you to practice important interpersonal skills that will serve you well in your professional and personal life. Liaising with shareholders and collaborating with peers is a great way to refine your approach to meeting new people and finding a communication style that works for you.
Networking outside of your professional life can be particularly rewarding. As a project manager, you’re community-focused and have an interest in helping people achieve their goals. This same enthusiasm for altruism can be put to good use in community projects in your area.
Consider reaching out to local communities that share your values and volunteer your time to them. Working hard for a good cause may even help you land professional opportunities, as you’ll meet folks from all walks of life during your service.
Receive New Opportunities
Networking is a great way to bolster your career and discover new opportunities. 85% of jobs are filled via networking and 70% of jobs are never posted publicly. As an aspiring project manager, you need to build relationships and network as though your career progression depends on it.
You can advance your career within a company by scheduling time to meet with managers and collaborating with your peers. Ask managers about upcoming responsibilities and share your career goals with them. Even a quick conversation can make a lasting impression on managers who will remember your ambition and can-do attitude.
Collaborating with peers is particularly important for your career progression. Even if you’re on the same rung of the corporate ladder today, folks around you will land promotions and move to different companies during their career. Working collaboratively will expand your network within your current company and the industry you work in.
Networking is a vital skill for project managers. You can use your network to land new opportunities, advance your career, and respond to industry insights before your competitors. Practice your networking skills by attending events and volunteering in your community. If you need extra guidance, reach out to a mentor in your company and learn from their knowledge and experience.