Column: In a networking group? Watch for the new guy
Photo by Flickr user WaywardShinobi
When you're the new guy, you have to prove yourself.
There is a danger to being in a group for a long time, though. As we spend more time with the other members of the group, we build stronger and stronger relationships with them. As we do that, we can tend to spend all of our time with them and never pay attention to the new people. We forget what it was like to be there to try out the group for the first time. We need to be sure, in addition to nurturing our existing relationships, we also take time for those newbies we see across the room.
Doing this benefits a number of different parties.
- The newbie. Of course, it's a good thing for them to feel welcome. No one likes to feel all alone in a room full of people. You get to be their hero, and that will give you a head start into a stronger long-term relationship.
- The event organizers. Setting up, breaking down, maintaining the agenda, scheduling speakers, arranging for the catering — the event organizers have a lot of things to keep track of before during and after the event. If someone like you is willing to help out greeting new people and making them feel comfortable, you have just taken one more worry off their plates. In fact, they probably wouldn't mind if you offered to be the quasi-official greeter. Ask them sometime.
- The other group members. Every group benefits from an infusion of new blood. If your welcome helps a newbie become a new long-term member, you have given the group access to new ideas, new networking connections and new enthusiasm.
- You. Someone you've welcomed to the group is more likely to be willing to open their network for the purpose of furthering your success. Since they are new, it's likely that they have access to hundreds or thousands of other people, some of whom might be your perfect clients.
Remember, at one point you were the new person walking into your first group event. You were nervous and didn't know with whom to speak or what would happen next. Now that you've been welcomed into the group and have built your extensive network, it is your turn to reach out your hand to the current crop of newcomers.
And, really, for the cost of a smile, a handshake, and a simple willingness to help them fit in, you and everyone involved have so much to gain, it makes no sense not to make that extra effort.