3 Ways to Leverage Your Strongest Product Management Skills
One of the best ways to learn more about a topic is to teach it to someone else. We see this all the time in our product management classes, where one student is able to help another based on their knowledge and expertise. Walking someone through a process not only teaches them the steps, but also reinforces your own learning. In this article, we’ll discuss ways to leverage your strongest product management skills and share your knowledge through mentorship, writing and speaking engagements.
What are the strongest Product Management skills?
In our recent Product Management Skills – Benchmark Report, which surveyed over 1,650 product managers across the globe, we were encouraged to see that the three strongest skill areas for product managers were domain knowledge, customer understanding and communication. Domain knowledge makes sense as a high score for a product manager. Hopefully in your career, you come from a field of expertise where you deeply understand that market space. We were also encouraged by the fact that customer understanding was such a strong skill. And, we teach this in our training. If you don’t first understand your customer, there’s no way possible you’re going to build the right product. Written and verbal communication skills are key to becoming a successful product manager, so it was great to see that rise to the top three.
Become a Mentor for others
Mentoring others and demonstrating thought leadership through writing and speaking are great ways to not only strengthen these skills, but also advance your career. In our Women in Product Management blog interview series, successful VPs of Product Management have all shared the importance of having a mentor and being a mentor for others. Mentorship comes in many forms, from practical advice on presenting to a key stakeholder to general encouragement and support. For example, Soni Meinki, SVP of Product Management at Optum said, “the greatest piece of advice I ever got was to go to meetings early, especially the important meetings. Sit near the person that is running the meeting, whether it is a C-level person or CEO. Make sure that you’re in their purview and make sure that you give your opinion. Be prepared and give your opinion, because you will be seen in those meetings and you will start to get respect.” That’s great advice to pass on to the next person that she mentors.
Mentoring can also help you to practice your skills as you teach them to your protégé. This is particularly true when you are practicing ‘next bench’ or ‘swivel chair’ coaching, where you’re working side by side with a new person on your team. This type of mentoring is great to practice your product management skills – whether it’s helping to write a requirements document or attending a retrospective. Sharing not only how to do these tasks, but also the why behind them helps to solidify your own knowledge.
Be a Thought Leader
Writing thought leadership articles, white papers, blog posts or even books are great ways to deepen your product management skills. Most marketing teams would welcome an offer from team members to write blog posts for the company – especially if you have expertise in your field! I often advise coaching clients who want to change industries or move into a leadership position within their industry to create a thought leadership plan.
As mentioned in a recent Business News Daily article, What is Thought Leadership, and Why Does it Matter?: “Thought leadership is not something you create overnight. It takes a lot more than one blog, social post or networking event to cement yourself as a trusted figure in any field.” This is why you have to develop a plan. Consider the particular topics or areas of expertise that you are already strong in, and what it will take to become an expert, where you can contribute something new to the topic. Then develop a content calendar of topics over some period of time in coordination with your Marketing team.
Whether it’s about your industry or your favorite roadmapping tool, put your writing skills to work and get published. Great places to post your articles are LinkedIn PM groups and Facebook PM groups. Start reading and commenting on articles written by others in your field. If you’re really ambitious, consider writing a book about your industry, technology, or product management role.
Speak up! (at events)
Speaking at industry events is a great way to share your product management knowledge. Most major metro areas hold ProductCamp events, which are one-day unconferences. An unconference is designed to allow participants the opportunity to submit a topic to present and then attendees can vote on which topics they want to attend. You can also search for product management groups on Meetup.com and offer to speak at one of the meetups. ProductCamps and Meetups are great places to practice your public speaking skills, and give back to your product management community.
Giving back is its own reward
By sharing your skills with others through mentorship, writing, or speaking, you take your own skills to the next level. We hear this repeatedly from experts in the field – that in giving, they get more back in return. How will you leverage your product management skills to help strengthen your peers, local community, or even the entire profession of product management?
About the Author
Director of Solutions
Mira (she introduces herself as half of a Mira-cle) is your 280 Group concierge. She helps clients navigate our training and consulting solutions, and also oversees our contingent-search recruiting practice. As a certified life and systems coach, Mira is great at listening – not just to our customers, but to our entire 280 Group team. She has a wicked sense of humor and a song for every occasion. Click on our chat button to say “hi” to her!
280 Group is the world’s leading Product Management training and consulting firm. We help companies and individuals do GREAT Product Management and Product Marketing using our Optimal Product Process™.