Grow Your Career – What Product Managers Need To Do For Success

by drjim on June 24, 2009

Product Managers Are Responsible For Growing Their Career - But Not Like This!

Product Managers Are Responsible For Growing Their Career – But Not Like This!

As though the job of being a Product Manager was not hard enough, there’s also that added responsibility that you have to manage your career. With all of the turmoil of the past couple of years, it’s now more important than ever for Product Managers to find the time to tend to this task.

Growing Your Career – It’s Like Another Job

The #1 thing that Product Managers need to realize is that it is no longer good enough to sit passively by and hope that your career will take you to someplace that you want to be. Instead, you need to take charge of it. Yes, this means that there is more work for you to do. However, you will benefit from all of the time and effort that you put into this task.

It’s Networking Time

For some odd reason too many of us shun what is probably the most effective career management activity – networking. Study after study has shown that most high paying professional jobs are found through networking. What this means for you is that you need to always be growing your network.

This might cause you to rush out and try to build the largest LinkedIn network that you possibly can. Don’t do it. Deborah Bailey who is a career and employment coach, points out that the quality of the members of your professional network is far more important than quantity of people that you have in the network.

Get Uncomfortable

We all chose to have a career in product management for a bunch of reasons. One of these was because we knew that it was a dynamic field – it’s always changing. What this means for you is that you can’t sit back and assume that the skills that you have today (both hard and soft skills) will be what anyone will be looking for tomorrow.

Instead, you need to get up off your butt and go out and learn something new. This ability to be constantly seeking out new things to learn will be what keeps your skills fresh and makes sure that you are always employable.

Big Picture Stuff

This might be the trickiest part of the program – learning to keep your eyes open. It’s all too easy to focus on what’s going on inside of your company or even within your industry. However, the key to long-term career success is to stay on top of what’s going on in the big world and understand how it may impact your company and your career.

Final Thoughts

You have no control over what others may do to your career in the future. However, you have complete control over what you do to prepare your career for the future. You are going to need to be proactive (start doing something TODAY) and you are going to have to be willing to adapt to the changes that we all know will happen in the product management field. If you can do both of these things, then you will have truly taken control of your career.

Questions For You

In the past have you actively managed your career or have you just sorta let things happen to you? How much have you increased your professional network by during this year? How did you do it? What new skills have you learned this year? What other industries do you track? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So I’m going to guess that you are pretty comfortable with your product by now. You know what it does, you know what it doesn’t do. You feel that you’ve got a pretty good grasp of how your customers view your product. Maybe that’s a problem. Is it time for you to shake things up a bit and redesign your product’s logo?

P.S.: Free subscriptions to the brand-new The Accidental Product Manager Newsletter are now available.

It’s your product, it’s your career.

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