We are all familiar with the concept of supply and demand. The more there is of something, the less demand there will be for that product or service. The price subsequently drops because of the lower demand. The opposite holds true as well. The less there is of something, the higher the demand and people are willing to pay more for a particular product or service.
You want the services that you have to offer as a project manager to be extremely rare in order to stand out.
It may sound counter intuitive to make yourself scarce as a project manager. However, the economics of scarcity indicate something different. If something is rare (gold or gemstones for example), then its value increases. If you make yourself a rarity in your field, beyond just the standard project managers roles, then your value as a project manager can increase as well. Your project manager resume is something that will stand apart from the crowd.
We are not talking about hiding in your office, neglecting your project manager duties, operating outside the project manager job description or having the reputation of never being around. What we are talking about, however, is being rare by consciously developing a set of skills, mindset, and attitude that are unique to you and you alone. You will find that by doing this you will become a sought after commodity from both within and outside of your organization.
Ways to Make Yourself Stand Out as a Project Manager
The following suggestions can help you differentiate yourself from others who are doing a similar job within your company (this is good for promotions) to those who are outside of the company (this is good for getting hired into a new company).
#1. Be an Active Networker
Once you have been in your role as a project manager with a company for some time, it is easy to get into a comfort zone. Your days become predictable, your peers become static, and your skill set may atrophy. It happens to all of us. Whether you are in construction project management to online project management, if you don’t use it you can lose it.
Want to stand out as a project manager? Keep your network alive and get out of your comfort zone. Force yourself to learn new project management skills, meet new people and master different technologies. Find out what project management software they use or other tips and tricks that have made their job easier. You will find that the momentary discomfort you feel from plunging into new situations will quickly be overshadowed by the benefits you gain.
By now, everyone has an account on LinkedIn or has at least heard of this powerful professional networking tool. Are you utilizing it to its full potential? Update your profile, join a handful of project manager groups or call a number of people on your contact list in LinkedIn and invite them to lunch. Talk about the challenges you are facing, some of the solutions you have tried and ask for their advice and input.
You will be thrilled with the results. These networked conversations are invaluable when it comes to helping you think in new ways, looking at problems from a different perspective, and bringing back energy and excitement to your project teams at the office.
#2. Maintain a Relationship with the Sales Team
It is no surprise that sales people and project manager types may not always see eye-to-eye. The function of the sales team is to get business in the door. The function of the project management team is to get business out the door. This sometimes can cause contention due to delivery schedules that may be overly optimistic by the sales team, or dates that may be missed by the project teams. This results in project managers and sales people sitting on different sides of the table.
Want to be unique as a project manager? Embrace the sales team. Go to lunch with them from time to time and sit on the same side of the table. Listen and understand the challenges they face. Expand your process, procedure, and deliverable based thinking to include the ambiguity and uncertainty that sales people deal with on a daily basis. Incorporate contingency plans and slack for unforeseen occurrences into your project management software.
This will enhance your perspective on the importance of maintaining the relationship with the client and any projects that have been sold. You will soon find that by making small adjustments to your plan or making modifications to how you communicate with the sales team, you will have created allies. These allies can work with you and the client during those times that misunderstandings arise or the project gets into rough waters.
Another benefit of maintaining this relationship is that the sales team is typically an early economic indicator of how the company is doing. You will have a sense if you need to shore up with additional resources to handle the load, or, perhaps find another home if business starts drying up.
#3. Maintain your Project Management Certifications
It is true that there are a good number of project managers that have some type of professional certification. However, there is also a fair amount of project managers that do not have any type of certification. This is another area that you can make yourself rare as a project manager. Keeping some type of credentialed initials after your name many times allows you to make it through the first filter that hiring managers use when scanning through piles of paper for the right project manager resume.
It is important to not let your certification lapse feeling that you have been a project manager for so many years that it is no longer necessary. The economy, while improving, still has some bumps ahead. Your certification may be just what is needed to set you apart from the rest and have the hiring manager make the right hiring decision for their project manager job…YOU.
It is good to be scarce, rare, unique and one-of-a-kind when it comes to your project management skills and abilities as it helps you stand out. By becoming a powerful networker, looking outside of the discipline of project management and embracing the sales team, and keeping up your project management certifications, you can be in a league all of your own.