Two Ways PMPs Can REinvent Their Strategic PM Relationships

One constant that PMP Project Managers are always mindful of is change. Requirements, budgets, and dates change. Expectations, clients and technologies change. No matter how many controls, checks and/or balances you put in place…change always has a way of creeping into your professional life.

One thing that can help you roll with these changes is the breadth and depth of the people you know within as well as outside of your organization. This ability to connect with valuable resources and stay connected has become increasingly important to executives who are looking to hire PMP Project Managers. We’ll take a look at how this applies to both your Projects and your Career using some of the principles found in the newly released 2nd edition of Relationship Economics by David Nour.

How Pivotal Contacts Can Help Your Projects

In Chapter Six of Relationship Economics, David Nour describes Pivotal Contacts as “…thought leaders among their peers. They have developed deep subject matter expertise, have proved themselves in situations requiring a balanced approach between strategic vision and tactical execution, or simply have access to influential relationships.” He continues that they “…are commonly referred to as movers and shakers in a given role, company, vertical industry, or city. They are rising stars and key influencers, and they often lead the most critical projects within any company.”

How many people do you know that fit the above description within your company? Do you think they could help you achieve the results you need on not just completing, but exceeding expectations on your next project? Absolutely!

But how do you know who these people are? David Nour identifies five traits to be on the lookout for when it comes to identifying Pivotal Contacts:

  1. Time – To pivotal contacts, time is a valuable asset and they don’t like to waste it. You’re not likely to see these people hanging out by the watercooler, chatting it up
  2. Execution – Pivotal contacts are passionate about execution. Seldom will they get excited about a 100-page analysis of a challenge. They are much less interested in everything you know and much more intrigued by what they need to know to get things done.
  3. Gatekeepers – Pivotal contacts are protected by very capable gatekeepers. The old days of the cliché secretary are long gone. Today’s executive administrators and administrative assistants are polished, well-educated, professional, well-paid, and very good at what they do. They take pride in being professional administrators and are focused on optimizing their executives’ valuable resources.
  4. Mutual trust, respect, and value – Pivotal contacts build relationships based on mutual trust, respect, and value. Often, the only source of access is through a referral by a trusted source. These include lieutenants inside the organization or highly valued external advisers, but certainly those who have filtered out the time or resource wasters.
  5. Private – Pivotal contacts are well-known, yet private individuals. You may hear of their accomplishments, but seldom about their personal lives—including their family matters, political views, or downtime interests.

Spend time identifying people with these traits within your organization that can help you with your project and align yourself with them. Better yet, work on becoming a Pivotal Contact yourself. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much more efficiently your projects will run. Plus, you will quickly develop a reputation with upper management in your own organization of becoming the go-to person for the next marquee project.

How Strategic Relationships Can Help Your Career

There’s an adage that holds true regardless of your industry. It’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know. Granted, PMP Project Managers need to know their craft, but, it’s no surprise that the person who is more connected opens themselves up to more opportunity. It’s also no surprise, according to David Nour, that if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu…meaning that in order to stay relevant, we need to remain visible. What are some ways this can be accomplished?

In Chapter 8 of Relationship Economics, David Nour compares building strategic relationships to a checking account. You can’t take out more money than what you have deposited. You need to make the deposit first, and then you can make the withdrawal. The same holds true for relationships. If you haven’t made any relationship deposits outside of your company, it is hard to make any withdrawals.

The following are four principles David Nour lists in his book that can help your career as a PMP Project Manager by shoring up the connections you make and benefitting from the great advice you can receive through these powerful relationships:

  • Reciprocate First – If you begin by really getting to know and truly investing in everyday contacts with meaningful relationship currency deposits, the world becomes your ATM.
  • Establish value-based Relationships – Aim to deliver value in every interaction. By focusing on what is of particular value to others, you can sharpen your unique value-add proposition. When you introduce two people to each other and they benefit from that introduction, you have made deposits in two accounts.
  • Build a Personal Brand – In a sea of sameness, being interesting, being known for content, and building a personal brand will differentiate you from the others. Personal branding can exponentially extend your reach. Research it, package it, market it, and perfect it. People are buying you!
  • Return on Involvement – Carefully pick the organizations in which you choose to invest – whether professional, civic, or community. Get engaged or get involved by taking on the most visible roles in areas such as membership, marketing or programs.

The new reality is that executives are looking for PMP Project Managers who not only do their job well, but are also deeply connected with people within their own company as well as those in other industries and organizations. Being this ‘connected’ takes time, effort, sacrifice, and patience. However, by taking the time to apply the principles from Relationship Economics, you will find that you can maximize the return on your professional relationships and stand out from the rest!


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