Recap: PMI Conference San Diego

Mallory Mahoney, Associate Project Manager, Red Door Interactive  

Being new to the world of Project Management (I’ve only been doing this about 8 months now), I am eager to learn any and everything I can on how to better manage projects and the teams I lead. So when I heard about the San Diego PMI Chapter’s 10th Annual Conference, you could pretty much guarantee I’d be there – trying to soak up every bit of information I could, learning both from the conference speakers and from my fellow attendees. The conference, held May 16 & 17, was a great way to explore a variety of topics, through one hour tutorials and half-day seminars. Sessions focused both on the technical aspects of strategy and the software we use to keep a project moving, as well as the soft skills necessary to manage your team and engage with clients. Read on for my key takeaways from the event (don’t worry, I’ve spared you the technical stuff here):

  • Strive to be a lifelong learner. This was a continual theme that was echoed throughout the conference by multiple speakers. No matter your profession, you can and should continue to explore, learn and grow. Reading books, continuing education and being open to communicating with others is key– you never know what their experiences may teach you.
  • Building strong relationships is key to success. That includes both relationships with your internal team, and with your clients. Get to know one another – learn communication styles, expectations, etc. – so that you can understand how to best work together to achieve one goal. If you spend the time up front to build these relationships, you’ll save dividends down the road, both as the project progresses and on future projects.
  • People are telling you so much more than you think. They say that 93% of communication is non-verbal, so if that’s the case, you better learn how to read the cues and signals coming your way from others. You need to be able to hear what they’re “not telling you” – and on that same note, know what message you’re giving off. What does a handshake tell you about someone? What about the way they angle their body during conversation? Even more, facial expressions, tone and behavioral patterns will tell you far more than any spoken word. With non-verbal communication, it’s not about what you say, but how you say it.
  • Understand the part you played in a conflict, and take accountability. In any situation, we have a choice of how we respond to that situation. You could chose to take accountability for it and move forward, blame others, or pretend it doesn’t exist. In choosing the route of accountability, you’re able to admit your role, focus on a solution and implement. It’s not about blame, but about asking questions to find what works. For any situation, ask:
    • How did I contribute to this outcome?
    • What could I have done differently?
    • Is there a way to prevent this from occurring again?
Overall, the conference was a success. I’ve already started thinking of ways I can translate what I learned into actionable results for my current and future projects. You can bet I’ll be back again next year!

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