PMI meetingAttending PMI meetings is not mandatory for PMI members and PMP certificate holders, but I’ve found it to be a useful way to spend a lunch hour. PMI meetings normally take an hour and a half (ours have run from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM on weekdays) and feature a speaker who presents some topic relevant to project management. And, contrary to what you might believe, the topics are not always particularly relevant to Project Management Institute (PMI) processes and practices, but normally feature real-world stories and scenarios, and I’ve found generally pretty interesting.

I’ve attended PMI meetings in both San Antonio, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina, and notice that in each city the meetings have followed a certain progression, which is this:

  1. PMI members arrive at the meeting room, mingle, grab some lunch (normally catered), and take a seat
  2. The president of the chapter speaks, discusses PMI chapter business, and asks for two groups of people to stand up; first, those who are attending their first PMI chapter meeting, and second, those people who have recently passed their PMP exam
  3. The president introduces the speaker, who gets up and speaks on his or her topic for an hour, normally accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation
  4. The speaker conducts a Q&A session on his or her topic while members gradually start trickling out to head back to work.

Your chapter may have a different way of conducting their PMI chapter meetings, but this method seems to work quite well! One thing I have noticed, is that the Charleston chapter meetings don’t have as much mingling as do the San Antonio chapter meetings – that’s something I’d like to see change, as I really appreciate the time spent meeting other project managers in the area and making contacts.

The presentations I’ve been to have covered a variety of topics – in one, a registered nurse explained how she incorporated project management into her operation of a hospital department, and in another a good friend of mine talked about his projects involving fluid dynamics graphics work at Digital Domain, which eventually led to his winning a Scientific & Technical Academy Award. This month a fellow presented an introduction to Scrum, an Agile Development framework that we use where I work as a program manager.

Attending a PMI chapter meeting grants you one PDU (Professional Development Unit), which is good for those members who are PMP certified and need to amass 60 PDUs every 3 years. If you attend every chapter meeting your chapter puts on every month, that’s 24 PDUs toward that total. So while you’ll have to do some extra work to get those additional 36 PDUs, what you can earn from attending PMI chapter meetings certainly doesn’t hurt.