The New Year is finally upon us which means it’s time for the annual tradition of professing personal and professional changes to ensure a more prosperous new year. In reality, any day is the perfect day to start something new, but who am I to bemoan the ritual of renewal that potentially can transform your life and your company for years to come. Yes, that’s right. One small change, applied consistently during the New Year, can have a positive effect on your project, career and stress level (to name a few benefits).
That profound change is Internal Networking!
I know, changing your networking habits doesn’t sound as sexy as learning advanced MS Project or getting your PMP, but the long term ramifications are endless. The problem with most project managers is that they don’t think about networking as a risk management tool. What is the long term goal that you’d like your networking efforts to yield? Or put another way, what Return On Investment (ROI) would you be satisfied with? You wouldn’t invest your hard earned money without an analyzing the expected return, so don’t invest a more valuable commodity, YOUR TIME, without doing your homework beforehand.
The challenge that the majority of project managers have is they either…
A. Don’t make the time
B. Have no networking goals in mind
Or, more hazardous
C. Have a short term investment mentality
Continuing our financial analogy, what type of investment strategy would you take if your goal was to “get rich quick”? By definition it would have to include a BIG risk in the form of upfront investment, uncertainty or severe legal consequences. The same is true in regards to networking (sorry to all you impulse addicts out there). Connecting with key people in your company or on the outside only when you NEED something is equivalent to taking a short term investment strategy. You’ll always pay a bigger “price”. Just because you’ve been getting by with this strategy doesn’t make it effective or efficient. How do you feel when a relative stranger appears with an open hand? Then does it again and again? We rarely walk away from those interactions with a positive feeling about them AND it can even end up tainting your perspective of their project, department or, in when it comes from an external consultant, their firm.
As a project manager, I can’t promote “luck” as an effective strategy for getting anything accomplished. So let me help you launch into the New Year with a fiscally sound investment strategy that will help us reap incrementally higher returns in regards to your project’s cycle time, risk reduction, career advancement and even lower your stress. But don’t dismay if you want some early returns as well, but realize that it will require a focused strategy and an upfront investment on your part to get those returns. The ROI question becomes… How much is an expedited action, innovative solution or quality new hire REALLY worth to you?