Jessica Gilles, PMP
Jessica Gilles is the latest M Powered Strategies staffer to become a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Having managed projects of various sizes as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine, on staff at small nonprofits, and in her role as a federal consultant with MPS, Gilles feels that the PMP credential is an accurate representation of the skills she has developed over the years. “I was actually familiar with the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) from a course I took in grad school,” noted Gilles. “Still, I was impressed with how much the exam language reflects the day-to-day work we do at MPS. Even when we aren’t explicitly managing a project, we are using project management techniques in all of our core competencies as a company.”
Already a certified ScrumMaster, Jessica is in control of range of tools and applications when it comes to managing projects. Now, as a PMP, the door is wide open for even more opportunities.
LinkedIn is one of the most popular professional social media platforms around, and has made networking online an easy option in the digital age. Nevertheless, online connections cannot replace the value of attending events and meeting people in the flesh. As successful as social media is at providing networking opportunities, face time with potential clients is an invaluable part of business development. So how do you capitalize on opportunities at a real-life industry event?
First, do your research. Who are the speakers? What projects have they worked on? What is their area of expertise? This may seem like a lot of work, but a quick Google search will give you a lot of answers and a lot of context. This will prepare you to speak comfortably with attendees, and hopefully even the speakers themselves.
Once you research the speakers, feel free to do some digging into any of the topics that jump out at you. It never hurts to have some background knowledge. Even though no one expects you to be an expert on every topic, you might benefit from knowing that “the cloud” is more often referring to data storage, rather than a collection of water particles.
Next, bring your A-game. We all know the basics—dress appropriately, bring your business cards, easy on the open bar, etc. The strategy lies in what you do once you actually start talking to people. A business developer has three goals at an industry event. 1) Meet potential clients and be prepared to answer questions and highlight your company’s unique qualities. 2) Learn more about your competitors and what they are doing differently. 3) Gather information about pain points in your industry and any upcoming business opportunities.
Finally, add some personal flavor. When researching which industry event to go to, pick one that genuinely speaks to your interests. When talking about your service lines, be enthusiastic about what your business means to you. And when asking other attendees questions, pay attention to their answers instead of thinking about what you are going to say next. In the digital age, it’s easy for us to replace personal interaction with online communication. But taking the time to regularly seek personal connections in your industry’s network will have a lasting, positive impact on your company.
Emily Gallery holds a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in English Literature from West Virginia University. After graduation in 2010, she worked for two years developing education programs for special needs children. From 2012 to 2014 she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Azerbaijan working as a Youth Development Specialist. She stayed on in Azerbaijan after finishing her Peace Corps service to teach English as a foreign language at a private school for a semester before returning home. Having recently moved to D.C. from West Virginia, Emily is excited to be a part of M Powered Strategies’ PACE Program. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the city with friends, volunteering, playing soccer, and traveling.
Hannah Leedle holds a B.A. in Leadership Studies with a secondary major in International Studies: World Politics and Diplomacy from the University of Richmond. While at the University of Richmond, Hannah researched the impact of political and historical forces on the U.S. public education system within the context of the testing and accountability movement. Additionally, she conducted research on the language surrounding international humanitarian intervention, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, and military force. During her undergraduate studies, Hannah also completed internships with a variety of small non-profit organizations focused on education and health services. New to DC, Hannah enjoys exploring the city in her spare time. She also likes to read, hike, and travel.