A successful product manager is an avid networker. Every successful product is a direct result of a team or teams working together to develop and deliver the product. At IBM, I would network with development teams within other product brands to learn more about their products and mission. I would network with customers, business partners, and field engineers. They often gave me the best view of customer pain points. I would network with sales teams and solution specialists to understand why customers were buying my product. I would network with key individuals in different countries and geographies around the world as they would provide insight to local product acceptance. I would network with executives and directors in my organization and others to find out key business strategies and pain points. I would network with other product managers to learn about best practices. I would network with key architects and IBM research to learn about new technologies that could be leveraged.
A product manager must collect all this data from the people he or she interacts with and lead the product to success. Through networking and key partnerships, we were able to have the code embedded in AIX and i5/OS. Through networking, we were able to implement features that would increase adoption in Europe. Through networking, we found win-win situations where we could partner together to reduce long development costs by creating a common client that would work across platforms. Through networking we eliminated duplication of resources and network services within our infrastructure.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” -Henry Ford
I realize your company may not be as big as IBM, but the importance of networking is still the same. As a product manager, it’s important for you to be a master networker and have excellent listening skills while being articulate in your own speech. This will enable you to find those win-win-win opportunities for the company, customers, and partners.