Operating on schedule and under budget are hallmarks of successful project management. If you’re doing your job well, outside observers have no reason to take interest in what you’re doing. In most cases, no news is good news—but not if you’re trying to shine a spotlight on your fabulous team, cause, and/or yourself. So, how do you build visibility for your projects short of self-sabotaging to get noticed? Here are a few ideas for how to (stealthily) brand your projects within and outside of your organization:
How to Brand Your Projects Internally
Proactively brief leadership. Your project’s communication plan should include a regular cadence for briefing the sponsor and other critical project stakeholders. One way to ensure that these meetings are successful is to find opportunities to “pre-brief”, as in brief them before the official meeting. For example, if you have a program management review meeting coming up, don’t let that be the first time your project sponsor hears about what you’ve got going on. It goes a long way if you’ve made the effort to introduce yourself and your project to leadership in advance. Then, when the larger 50-person meeting rolls around, you and your project will stand out for having made the effort.
Volunteer to present at team events. If someone asks for volunteers to present at a team brown bag or all hands meeting, your hand should be the first to go up. Take advantage of these free publicity opportunities to speak about the work you and your team are doing. This helps get the word out about your project, gives you the chance to practice your public speaking skills, and crowd sources ideas that can improve delivery.
Foster a reputation for excellence. When I brief people about my projects, I not only describe the external project outcomes, but I also highlight the internal processes that the team has created to support project execution. Focusing on business process improvement activities shows others how my project fits within organizational goals and also strengthens its applicability to other initiatives. If someone sees that you’ve built a kick-ass dashboard or designed a seamless QA/QC process that may be relevant to their project, it inspires follow-up questions that raise the profile of your endeavor. Suddenly, your project isn’t only known for solving a specific engineering problem. Now, it’s a case study for productivity across the team. Identifying how your project matters to multiple different audiences makes it more likely that your message will resonate with a broader group.
How to Brand Your Projects Externally
Craft a solid elevator pitch. I get what you’re thinking—the elevator pitch is outdated. How many times are you actually in an elevator and get to use it? While the phrase may be tired, I can assure you the concept is not. Being able to speak intelligently about what you do is critical to building awareness for your projects. When you sit down to write the pitch, make sure it is no more than a minute long and that it aligns with your stated goals for the year to ensure consistency. If you are involved in multiple projects, remember that people will latch onto the first two sentences of your bio, so make sure what you describe first is the thing you want them to notice. If your current project isn’t the best descriptor of what you are trying to accomplish, don’t be afraid to use another project as a lead-in. Then, if someone asks you what you’re working on now, you can explain the connection between that project and your goals, highlighting the transferable skills involved.
Regularly submit abstracts to external conferences and publications. As part of my monthly project reviews, I monitor a list of upcoming conferences and work with my team to submit abstracts to relevant events. To avoid spending time on excessive tailoring, I submit a generic project abstract regardless of the conference theme. If the idea is of interest, I assume I can always refine the details of the submission later on. The worst case scenario is that you get rejected, creating additional fodder for your failure resume.
Post interesting news articles or thought pieces about your project on social media. If you’re a project manager worth their salt, chances are you’re spending at least some portion of your time keeping up with industry trends that may pertain to your project’s subject matter. Why not post the link to share this knowledge with your network? Helping someone else is a surefire way to brand your projects and your leadership.