Actually being home (in Phoenix) this week, allowed me the opportunity to attend my local PMI chapter evening PDM sessions. The PMI Phoenix chapter is one of the larger chapters and has a strong program to support project managers and companies that employ project managers.
Because of the size of the membership and the geographic area covered, Phoenix PMI offers back-to-back PDM sessions – one in Scottsdale on the third Wednesday and one in Phoenix on the third Thursday that offers the same speaker as in Scottsdale but also adds a dinner option.
The speaker was pretty good, the salmon better (believe it or not!), and the networking was exceptional! From one PM to another, I recommend that you get involved with your local chapter – I believe you will find the time well-spent.
Why I recommend participating in your local chapter:
Getting to know others in your project management community is excellent. You never know when you need to “know” someone, especially in this economy. I am always surprised when I walk into a meeting and see someone either from my past or with whom I’ve talked only on email. It’s so great to put a face to the name! And if you are in the job market AND you have your certification or are working on getting your certification, this is a great audience to socialize your resume.
If you already have a PMI certification, you want to keep it! Chapters offer many different opportunities for earning professional development units (PDUs). For example, with the evening sessions that Phoenix hosts, you receive 1 category 3 PDU. While that’s a drop in the bucket towards the 60 you need for your PMP, at least it’s something!
It just happens. Put a bunch of people together who do the same type of job, regardless of industry, and eventually the conversation turns to project management. Being able to talk with others about their challenges and successes is a great way to enhance and develop your skills.
As mentioned in the reason above, you will talk to other PMs about their experiences and how they compare to your experiences. You never know when your work may influence and help someone else. By discussing your lessons learned, you are giving back to the PM community of practice.
Talking with other PMs about the challenges of their environment lets you know that you’re not crazy! Universally, PMs deal with the same “stuff” – inflexible stakeholders, poor communication, not enough resources to get the job done, unclear requirements. It is said that misery loves company, and it’s sometimes a great reminder that it’s not just “your company” that doesn’t “get it”. Now instead of just wallowing in shared misery, like a bunch of pigs in mud, the good news is that a chapter event gets you in the frame of mind to commiserate, yet solve or at least brainstorm about some resolutions or options.
Many of the PMI chapters attract great speakers from a wide-variety of backgrounds – both educational and industrial. And in the off-chance that you have a not-so-great speaker, smile – it’s only a 1-hour presentation. And you get a PDU just for listening. Personally, I use it as a lessons-learned for presentation skills: I critique the PowerPoint presentation, the speed of the speaker (as a speed-talker myself!), the hand gestures, the jokes, the audience engagement. I have yet to come out of a PDU session and not have a some type of tid-bit I can apply to my future speaking events.