Project Management Q&A: Networking for Opportunities

I’ve been a longtime freelance project manager, but I’ve always had difficulty networking to help land new opportunities. Any advice?

All freelance project practitioners should engage in some form of networking at least once a week, even if they’re currently working. This helps develop a pipeline of opportunity, rather than the “feast to famine” many freelancers experience.

Social sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have changed the way that you can keep in touch with your network and possibly extend it; allowing freelancers to not only have a “shop window” but also share their experience and expertise whilst making and maintain professional connections.

Existing networks may well be a great source of future opportunities and using a simple classification system for those in your network may well aid future contact. Friends or professional associates, if you’re not already in contact with the latter, is it time to re-engage and make yourself visible—send an email, text or even call.

Think about raising your profile as a project practitioner. Attend PMI chapter meetings, APM events, conferences, seminars or networking events aligned to industry sectors in which you operate. While you may meet a future employer, your real goal is to circulate, converse and connect with peers who have mutual professional interests.

The goal here is to make yourself known to others, the more people who know who you are and what you do the better.

For face-to-face events, nail your introductions with the “elevator pitch,” a 30-second explanation of who you are. When creating one, remember you could meet someone who may not know they need a project manager or even what a project manager does. So don’t simply tell people you manage projects. Instead, explain how you help organizations save money by keeping projects on time and under budget. It shows people what you do—but also how your abilities could benefit them.

And get online. Social sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter allow freelancers to not only have a “shop window” but also share expertise and make professional connections.

With online networking, I personally connect well with people who share their knowledge and expertise. It helps me remember them for all the right reasons, and they’re often the first people I notify of professional opportunities.

To be a virtual knowledge sharer, offer professional advice in project management discussions on LinkedIn, SlideShare, Twitter and other social media outlets. You want to present yourself as someone with valuable information to provide, rather than a person solely focused on snagging a job. The more you participate online, the more you increase your chances of being seen by a potential employer as a hireable expert.

To find out more about using social media to find a job click here

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