Networking Works Wonders
Don’t neglect the informal ways to build on your education and experience. There are several resources right in your community and at your fingertips that can accelerate your career.
“Networking in any form – online or face-to-face at conferences or local chapters – is really helpful. I correspond with several folks over email and can shoot them a question just to get quick feedback,” Roper says. “It’s something simple to do throughout your career to stay abreast of what’s happening.”
Get involved with your local IFMA or BOMA chapter to bounce ideas off colleagues and competitors.
“It’s important to have informal conversations outside of the workplace,” Bechard explains. “Those are key to discovering what’s going on. There’s no pressure and they’re short, direct, and informative.”
Conferences are a great way to meet people and discover opportunities, Friday says. “You can keep up with trends at event sessions, get your peers’ evaluation of vendors, and learn from others’ experiences nationwide,” she adds.
If attending FM events is outside your budget, jump online. “Webinars, blogs, and social media are great ways to see what’s out there,” Bechard adds. “It’s about fostering a community and getting answers. Suddenly you’re exchanging emails, and right now I’m actually conversing with a group about an electrical issue.”
An offshoot of networking is mentoring. Seek out seasoned veterans in the industry and turn to them with questions.
“Mentoring is kind of the grown-up version of internships. Identify people who you can go to to ask the questions that you might not be comfortable asking your boss,” Roper recommends. “You don’t have to use the formal ‘mentor’ term or program. It can just be someone you meet for lunch and chat about what they’ve heard and how they can help.”
Every organization has a unique way of doing business, so identifying a mentor is particularly helpful if you shift companies, Samson adds. “There can even be backwards mentoring. You might be supervising someone who can teach you the processes of your new setting,” he explains.
Contractors are another surprising resource, Samson says.
“Develop good relationships with contractors so you can turn to them for troubleshooting,” he advises. “They have great intuition and instinct – more of a specialized knowledge you can take advantage of.”
Regardless of who your allies are, hold on to their business cards. “It’s good to keep track of people you meet, because in facilities management, you never know what your next problem is going to be,” Samson explains. “But if you can tap into the community, you’ll be surprised what you learn.”
FM Flies at a Fever Pace
1) Every step you take is a means of keeping up in this always-changing industry.
“The environment is in warp speed. So many facility professionals are stressed because the demands are higher than they’ve ever been and the resources are fewer than they’ve ever been,” Friday says. “Pick your battles and targets. Promote what’s important.”
2) Stay curious and constantly aware of industry news.
“Technology and the way people are using buildings are changing very rapidly,” Roper says. “As facilities people, we have to be proactive. It’s a dynamic field.”
3) Prove your worth, and a seat in the executive boardroom may be yours.
“Teamwork is not the right term. You need to be a good partner,” says Bechard. “You need to participate and be a leader.”
Chris Curtland firstname.lastname@example.org is assistant editor of BUILDINGS.