Project Managers – Do you have a Lead Funnel?
As a Project Manager, what is your next opportunity?
In sales we call this your lead funnel.
The temptation might be to skip forward at this point, but bear with me while I explain why as a Project Manager you need to consider a Lead Funnel in your set of tools, and as part of your career.
The challenge for a lot of Project Managers that I meet, is that they get so heavily involved in a project to the point that the next step after the project has completed can be neglected.
Broadly there are three types of Project Managers:
- New or Aspiring Project Managers
- Project Managers working in organisations
- Contract Project Managers
They all have something in common, usually to find the next position, the next promotion, new opportunities or just the next contract.
This is where your ‘Lead Funnel’ comes in, this what supports your career moves, your next role, or your next contract.
A lead funnel is used by most individuals and organisations, to create a supply of sales leads to their product, and uses different media, websites, networking and social media to do this.
Now adjust this slightly, and instead of sales leads think about your pipeline of new contacts, senior managers, project organisations, network opportunities, contracts and skills. Where do these come from?
A typical sales structure is very similar to a Project team structure, so for example in a Project Management team we may have the Project Manager or Programme Manager, and in Sales we would have the Account Manager and Sales Director. The Sponsor or Senior Owner is no different to the Sales Director or a similar Executive Team member.
Wouldn’t it be great to set up a ‘lead funnel’ that works away in the background, that creates a flow to capture this information and allow you to pick and choose what you want to keep or file away for a future date? You can always say ‘No’ to something, but nice to have the ability to say ‘Yes’ as well.
Having established what a ‘Lead Funnel’ is in outline, the next question is how do you start to set one up? Over the next couple of paragraphs, I am going to share with you activities you should consider putting in place.
Everything starts with something, and unless you are a contractor with a web site, chances are you have a linked-in profile, or a social media profile of some sort?
If not, then the starting point is to create a linked-in profile, or if you have one then make sure it is up to date and relevant. This is really important as this is your window to the world, and where people are going to find you. There are thousands of articles on how to do this, and many existing profiles that act as an example, so I will leave this for you to create or update your profile in the best way!
As a tip most profiles contain very little content, with no specific target audience in mind, or just a random collection of content. Within your profile words you should include statements that reflect the roles that you want, it should also show where you want to go, not just where you have previously been.
The next task is to identify key areas, the industry you would like to focus on, and the professional skills, for example ‘Construction’ and ‘Project Management’. In fact, you can choose anything, but try to focus on a couple of key areas initially that interest you and where you would like to pursue your career.
Start to follow the companies or organisations that you like, and the people that are your peers or influencers in your industry. A common keyword to search on is #projectmanagement and add value by commenting on posts you like. If someone has made a certification, then a congratulations comment goes a long way, and will usually get a response back, and a possible view of your profile and a follow.
Focus on quality over quantity in your Linkedin interactions, and get to know people through their connections, comments and conversations. Try not to fall into the trap of adding everyone you can, as they often will not network or respond to you.
Try to do this every other day, just for a short period in the morning or evening and be consistent. We ideally want people that will engage with our content and keep coming back for more. Longer term you want to produce your own content then post it up, and remember to use the appropriate keywords, to focus it to your market.
Remember to be comfortable with yourself, it is ok to have a sense of humour, show our personality, whilst still being professional. It gives people a sense of the real us and that also attracts like-minded people. When you do this well, your network will actually grow through second and third level connections who see your posts and comments and become inbound leads who want to engage with you.
All this helps you in your career, as recruiters search on key terms, you will start to appear at the top of the list with some authority behind it.
A new social media platform on the block, and hugely popular, worth looking at, as it can find you more connections and opportunities. Create your Instagram profile, or twitter feed, which you will need, and start joining in rooms. There are hugely successful ClubHouse rooms on Project Management with over 22K followers, and they have built up a great following by giving good advice. Search on Project Management to find rooms to listen to, and hopefully go up on stage to join in conversations and give back. People will view your ‘Bio’ so make sure it is relevant to what you want to achieve, and this will get you followers on ClubHouse, Instagram and Twitter.
Instagram is not always the first social media platform to think of for Project Managers, but with links to many other platforms, it is worth considering. It is another way for you to connect and direct message contacts, and if you are considering ClubHouse, a great opportunity to connect with new people.
Twitter and Facebook
There are lots of other social media platforms out there and given time you can build up quite a following, with the opportunity to create a flow of contacts and opportunities. However all these things take time, and from a professional point of view, Linkedin is a great place to start, ClubHouse is new so offers opportunities, and just maintaining the focus on one or two of these can be quite time consuming. If you want to follow on Twitter and Instagram, then you should focus on major tags like #projectmanagement across these platforms which is a good place to start.
One of the potential downsides to the social media platforms, is you never own your connections, so if for any reason your account got blocked, you could lose all that hard work. When you connect with people, consider collecting their email or contact data, and keep that in your address book or spreadsheet.
Occasional emails with some news, updates, or informing people you are looking for a role or opportunity, is quite acceptable, and you can use many free packages like Mailchimp, to manage this and anyone that wants to unsubscribe.
Re-purpose your content
There are many other channels to raise your visibility, from YouTube to Podcasts, to blogs and providing resources. It’s all about re-purposing content, so could your post on Linkedin be turned into a short video for YouTube, the audio used for a Podcast that can easily be made available on any major platform? A PDF document that could be sent via email. There are so many tools and free resources available that re-purposing content across platforms is easier now than it has ever been.
Having new connections on a regular basis raises your visibility, opens up new opportunities and widens your circle of influence, and this is what becomes your ‘Lead Funnel’ or next opportunity. In a way you have to think of yourself as a ‘product’ and market yourself with that in mind. In Linkedin only 20% of the people post on a regular basis, so it doesn’t become that difficult to become one of the those people, and build a support mechanism around you that raises your profile and presents new opportunities.