27 Mar 5 key personalities you need to have in your product network
In order to grow and succeed in your role as Product Manager, you need to establish a strong and valuable network. Having the right people around you will inevitably determine your personal and professional career journey. If you want to grow personally, surround yourself with someone who pushes you further, if you struggle with a project reach to an experienced person to ask for help and when you feel you´re too intimidate or introvert, meet the office entertainer for a coffee. Valuable relationships are all about self-reflection, openness and the courage to take critics. Many Product Professionals struggle with the latter because they think they are supposed to have the right answer to everything and solve all problems by themselves. Your network will only be worthwhile and beneficial if you are able to open up for critics, pushes, new thoughts and ways of thinking. But don´t forget that it´s all about give and take: do not just absorb what your network gives to you, but give something back and return the favor. These five types of people should definitely be part of your strong network.
// YOUR SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
One of the most important characteristics of a Product Manager is curiosity. Without the insatiable desire to question the status quo and look beyond the obvious, you´re most likely having hard times nowadays. Therefore, you will be in good hands with people that inspire you. People from the same background as yours or from a completely different field of expertise as your own. Talking, discussing and wander in thoughts with inspirational people, will widen your own perspectives, add another angle to your well-established approaches or will simply bring new impulses to act differently as usual. Building up a strong relationship with someone who inspires you requires openness and a little admiration for the other.
// YOUR CO-PILOT
Reaching out for help sometimes requires courage. Especially Product people tend to an “I know it all” attitude and think they need to handle everything by themselves.
However, in situations where we struggle to find answers or facing roadblocks along the way, it´s advisable not to be hesitant about finding a helping hand. A buddy, mentor or co-pilot is a person that accompanies you when facing challenging situations. That might be being new to a team, project or organization, or simply struggling with the decision about your next career step. Establish an honest bond with your co-pilot, be open about your aspirations and take the good advice of someone who´s gone down the road before you. Whether this person is part of your internal or external network does not matter so much, as long as you trust each other. Your co-pilot will support you in finding the short-cuts and identifying road blockers ahead. Those relationships rely heavily on honesty and trust; hence they are not easy to establish and maintain but will provide one of the highest values after all.
// YOUR ADVOCATE
A network that works for you always comprises people who support you in your projects. You will always be in situations where you are in need of a supporter who believes in your ideas. An advocate on your side is committed and stands up for you when needed. This person cannot only provide you with knowledge, resources and operational support, but will also act as positive influencer within the organization to promote your work. Establishing a relationship with an advocate outside your professional environment might open new doors to their network and hence new opportunities for you. If you know where you want to go, make sure your advocate knows about it to spread the word. Those people might become important strategic partners or advisors for projects and will leverage their networks for the success of your undertakings. Make sure to create a partner-like connection that is fair and reliable.
// YOUR CHALLENGER
After a hundred ayes, there should be a nay. Even if it might be one of the toughest relationships in your network, a person who challenges you should be an inherent part.
Personal growth comes not by sitting around with yes-sayers, but by taking the word of your hardest critic. It´s a strength reinforcement and will push you a bit further with each conversation. Surely, it is not a walk in the park, therefore establishing a bond that allows to criticize one another for the good requires utmost sincerity and trust. Instead of being offended, you should take those little golden grains to become better at what you do. Having this type of people in your network ensures constant leverage of your strengths, hence grows you personally.
// YOUR COMPLEMENT
The sweet isn´t as sweet without the sour: if you follow this motto make sure to have a complementary person around you. As we usually tend to surround ourselves with people that are similar to us, that person is meant to fill the gap and balance out your weaknesses. If, for example, you are an extrovert, a super outgoing person, but struggle with slowing down the thrill, then a counterpart that is rather calm and relaxed is probably good to hang out with. When you get lost regularly in analyzing complex problems, but hardly come to a solution in that nitty-gritty examination, then someone who pushes for an action to take might be just about right for you. Be open to establish a connection with people whose personality is in contrast to yours to offset weaknesses and little struggles in your daily routine.