“Don’t take it personally that I haven’t accepted your LinkedIn invitation,” said a project manager I had known for a number of years. “I was wondering about that”, I said. “I haven’t accepted anyone’s invitation because I deleted my LinkedIn account,” he continued.
“You what?” I exclaimed after catching my breath. “Yeah, I deleted my account because I just didn’t have the time to keep up with it.” Needless to say I was shocked. I think he may have only had 50 or 60 people in his LinkedIn network, but that certainly is better than nothing and should not take a great deal of his time.
Then I thought about it a bit more and realized that many PMP Project Managers may be guilty of a similar thing. Certainly nothing as egregious as deleting your LinkedIn account, but succumbing to something I call “networking atrophy”.
What is Networking Atrophy?
Networking atrophy is the state of mind and routine of activity you fall into after you’ve worked somewhere for a lengthy period of time. “Lengthy” is a relative term that depends upon what type of environment you are used to working in. For those in IT, lengthy may be a couple of years. For those in other fields that may not change as fast as IT, it may be longer.
Regardless of the amount of time it takes, networking atrophy starts to occur once you have been lulled into a false sense of job security. You feel as if your company has a guaranteed future, your department is stable, your boss is looking out for you, and your job is bullet-proof. You spend less and less time with those who are outside of your organization and only begin to focus internally. You stop going to professional association events, you stop going to outside training, and you no longer stay in touch with your colleagues from previous employers.
This is an extremely dangerous position to let yourself get into as a PMP Project Manager! One day your concerned boss from your stable department in the company that has a bright future comes to you and says the company is in trouble. Some tough decisions had to be made and the department is having to “right-size”. Unfortunately, you were on the wrong side of the right sizing and your services are no longer needed. That’s it. A couple months of severance pay and you are out on the street.
The reality is that there is no security regardless of where you work. The days of starting at one company and retiring at the same company are long gone. The Bureau of Labor Statistics sheds light on the fact that workers born between the years of 1957 – 1964 held an average of 11 jobs between the ages of 18-44!
Think you can afford to delete your LinkedIn account or let your networking muscles atrophy? Think again.
Three Ways to Strengthen Your PMP Networking Muscles
1) Join a LinkedIn Project Management Group – There are dozens of groups that discuss Project Management in LinkedIn. Topics range from keeping your certification current, to managing resources, to ways to find project management jobs. Locate a group you are interested in and join them.
Then, find a Discussion that interests you. Read what others are saying. Incorporate your own thoughtful comments into the mix. These are professional groups, and as long as you act professionally you will be welcome.
Make sure have a picture on your LinkedIn profile and it is up-to-date. Interacting with other project managers “virtually” on LinkedIn will help you not only do your job better, but you can help others as well. Additionally, your name and reputation will become known in a relatively short period of time.
Looking for a great group to join? One of my favorites is the Project Manager Community – Best Group for Project Management group. This group is run by Jason Westland and has well over 100,000 members who engage in lively and spirited discussions about project management.
2) Attend at Least One Face-to-Face Function per Month – That’s it…just one per month. Not one per day. Not even one per week. Just one per month. That’s only 12 per year. A good place to start is your local PMI Chapter. Find out what events they have scheduled and pick the one that interests you most.
If you want to fast-track your networking workout routine, then volunteer for a Committee. Help is always needed and this is another proactive way to meet people outside of your company and learn new skills in the meantime.
3) Send out a Regular Correspondence to Your Colleagues – Everyone has a list of contacts of people they have worked with or come to know over the years. Pull this list together in one location and send out a quick note to your colleagues about what you’ve been working on and ask them what they’ve been up to. Or, send a helpful tip that you’ve come across that can help them do their job better.
You can send this from your own personal email program (remember to put everyone’s email address in the BCC: line, not the TO: line, so as not to expose your list to everyone else), or sign up for an affordable, and many times free, email service provider such as Constant Contact. The minimal investment of time and money in sending out an email like this once or twice a year returns huge dividends.
Just these three simple steps are guaranteed to stop networking atrophy and get you back in shape so you can move on to Job # 12!
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