PMs and their business relationships

Oct 28, 2019

There’s plenty of things, from the simple to the complex, that project managers can do to engage the important people in their database.

With so many duties and requirements, project managers can struggle with spending time cultivating and maintaining relationships with their stakeholders. Gateway Engineers, a full-service civil engineering firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, supports PMs with varied activities they can use to manage business relationships. The activities range from simple, inexpensive, and quick to complex, costly, and time-consuming.

Below is a sampling of some of the activities. Each one is segmented into three categories: activities that take approximately two minutes, twenty minutes, and two-plus hours.

  • Connect. Stay connected to ensure the PM is consistently in a position to receive-and-act-upon timely information that is important to the contact(s).
    • Two minutes: Set up alerts on the contact’s organization (company, services, products, or people), their associations, and interests by setting up Google Alerts.
    • Twenty minutes: Read an online article in the local business journal or industry publication about the contact’s business and comment publicly (often through traditional or social media) by writing a small, thoughtful caption.
    • Two hours: Purchase the contact(s) something fitting like a gift card to their favorite restaurant or an office plant to commemorate good news you heard about them, their organization, or association.
  • Share. Sharing the PM’s network with the contact(s) is an activity that can have a positive impact on multiple contacts simultaneously. Both contacts will likely remember the gesture the PM made by taking the time to share, thus increasing the chance they may return the favor.
    • Two minutes: Send an email connecting two contacts within the PM’s network who may be able to help each other.
    • Twenty minutes: Make it more personable by the PM calling each of the contacts. Here the PM can introduce and provide further explanation on why they should be connected from either a professional or personal nature.
    • Two hours: Schedule an introductory meeting, and the PM personally attends with the two contacts to help facilitate discussion.
  • Help. Help the PM’s contact(s) through providing potential business opportunities that may be of interest to them.
    • Two minutes: Email the contact(s) to share an opportunity they may be interested in pursuing. The opportunity can come from something the PM has read in the paper, overheard someone talking about at an industry event, or even a formal RFP they have received.
    • Twenty minutes: Call the contact(s) and discuss with them what the PM knows about the opportunity. Here the PM may consider providing the contact(s) with what the PM may feel would be good next steps.
    • Two hours: Invite the contact(s) to the project site of the opportunity or stop by their office to review. The PM can go the extra step and personally spend time with the contact to explain what they know about the opportunity.
  • Promote. Promoting the contact(s) professional or personal interests.
    • Two minutes: Send an email to other contacts within the PM’s network that the PM thinks may be interested in the contact’s specific services, products, or events.
    • Twenty minutes: Use the contact’s products or services. Few things are as sincere as buying and using a contact’s services or products. If the contact(s) owns a carwash, restaurant, or other business, the PM can promote their business by becoming a customer.
    • Two hours: Nominate the contact(s) for special recognition and awards within their company, industry, or community.
  • Celebrate. Celebrate professional and personal achievements and dates that are important to the PM’s contact(s).
    • Two minutes: Send a quick email congratulating or merely acknowledging a specific milestone or event that is unique and meaningful to the contact(s). Birthdays, work and wedding anniversaries, job promotions, and new certifications could all warrant a quick email from the PM to the contact(s). This would show the contact(s) that the PM noticed or didn’t forget.
    • Twenty minutes: Pick up a greeting card that matches the occasion the contact(s) is celebrating. Write in a personalized, hand-written message and send it to the contact(s) before the special date.
    • Two hours: Invite the contact(s) to lunch, dinner, or to a special event to celebrate the achievement personally.

Ryan Hayes is the director of business development with Gateway Engineers headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Contact him at or 412.409.2292.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.