Project Management

5 Expert Tips for Your First Meeting with a Project Sponsor

Firsts are always terrifying, whether it is the first time you jump out of a plane or the first time you meet your project sponsor. In a post for A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, Elizabeth Harrin elaborates on what to say on that fateful first encounter. According to renowned project managers she cites, there are five topics to cover when you meet your project sponsor for the first time:

  1. Learn more about them.
  2. Lay the foundation of trust.
  3. Build the relationship.
  4. Listen.
  5. Reveal the bigger picture.

Listen and Learn

Taking a vested interest in someone can go a long way and really sets the tone for a good first impression. Additionally, learning about a person can help to dictate how any future interactions should be handled. You cannot work well with someone if you do not trust them. It is during these first meetings that establishing trust is so crucial, because having that foundation opens the door to influence.  One of the simplest ways to do this is to determine what values the other person finds important. Different sponsors have different personality types and ultimately warrant different types of interactions.

The first meeting is the perfect time to begin to build a relationship. Determine the sponsor’s mindset and attempt to begin to understand them. A crucial aspect of this factor is determining how much time the sponsor can truly devote to the project.

You need to know how to listen; it is not enough to hear. Taking notes can often help to gain clarity and unearth any underlying concerns.

Lastly, AITS’s own Dave Gordon recommends you inquire what the sponsor’s role and responsibilities entail and what sort of impact this project will have on the organization. All of these seemingly small details help to paint a more vivid big picture.

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