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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gentle Reminder Product Managers: Mind Your Network!

Not sure what's going on, but I've been pinged regularly in the last couple of weeks by folks either looking to fill PM positions or PMs looking for their next challenge. There's a single word that leaps to mind during all these conversations: network. For such a self-evident message, I'm fascinated at how few people actively manage their professional network. Here's the thing: You can't create a network in short order when you need it. It's like a hardwood tree -- you have to plant it, care for it and let it grow slowly if you expect it to be strong.

This message is particularly relevant to folks who have "perm" positions (as opposed to those of use chasing down business for our services business). It's easy to get complacent and wonder why you would try to meet people on LinkedIn when you see essentially the same faces every day. I am certainly guilty of not leveraging social media to enhance my network when I was employed. I'd like to think that I've made up for lost time, but the inescapable fact is that my network would be even bigger if I'd been dedicated the time and effort to it that it deserves. On multiple occasions, I've heard from long-time employees who are surprised to find themselves looking for a job and realizing that they had been "asleep" for years with respect to the professional network. Don't be one of these people!

If you're not sure what to do to create, groom and retain your professional network, have a look at one of my previous posts. In this post, I would suggest the following to help you grow your network through social media.
  • Consider starting a blog. The more specialized the better. Try to write a one-page post every month (that's probably the minimum you need to create a "fan base"). There are tons of free platforms (like Blogger).
  • Start connecting with folks on LinkedIn. I'm not talking about building a network of farmers, perfume salespeople and rocket scientists. I'm talking about finding other professionals working on similar topics or in similar companies and sending them a request to connect. If they are hesitant because they don't know you, simply say "I find it valuable to network with people who have professional interests similar to mine."
  • Join relevant groups on LinkedIn and participate. Like interesting posts and every once in a while share something you've stumbled across.
  • Consider using Twitter. Tweet interesting tidbits related to your work a couple of times a day. With tools like TweetDeck, you can even schedule Tweets weeks in advance.
  • Use all your social networking channels to promote your blog (just point people to new posts)
  • Set up Google Alerts for topics that are relevant to your work. I get TONS of great information delivered daily to a dedicated e-mail folder. These alerts are the source of most of my posts on social media.
I hope this post encourages you to be more diligent about growing and maintaining your professional network. A tiny bit of effort now can make all the difference in the world when you need it.

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BTW, if you're looking for a PM position or trying to hire a PM and having a tough time, feel free to hit me up. I've got a lot of unconnected people in my network lately!

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