Single minded focus throughout the most critical phases of a project is a must, but it’s also important to maintain a strong, ongoing awareness of the needs and challenges facing your clients and end users. Getting away from your desk and pursuing interactions outside your project management team will give you a new perspective that really can make you a better project management consultant.
Make the rounds. You should regularly visit your end users and stakeholders on their turf. Not only will you form better connections capable of supporting you through the demanding projects ahead, you’ll also get an on-the-ground view of the environment you may one day be affecting. You can take stock of the challenges your end users are facing — staffing, space, etc. — and better understand how your efforts can help them overcome these obstacles.
Attend non-project meetings. Steering committees and other groups unrelated to your current project load are often good ways to connect with a wider range of people. These folks may one day be your internal customers or even your champions, so making contact with them in a project-agnostic setting could be highly beneficial down the road. Through this peripheral exposure to your expertise and capabilities, others in your organization who had not previously considered the benefits of leveraging an experienced project management team might now be prompted to involve you in future endeavors.
Don’t forget the fun. Your project team’s morale and cohesiveness is a critical concern, but so also is your own job satisfaction. Seize the opportunity to interact with others in support of fun activities, such as company parties and community volunteer efforts, without the pressure of a project looming over the conversation. You’ll add some spice to your work day, and also connect with innovative people outside your normal sphere.