After more than 20 years of studying the newcomer experience, Keith Rollag, author of What to Do When You’re New: How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations, has the chops to affirm that social connections are crucial for a workplace newcomer to succeed. After all, knowledge-sharing amps up productivity, and collaboration is required for almost any occupational achievement.
Mr. Rollag suggests these four tips to stand out when you’re a newcomer:
1. Introduce yourself.
Being new, you have the justification for introducing yourself to just about anyone. If you’re nervous about interrupting, ask yourself whether you’d be receptive if the roles were reversed. A yes answer tells you to go for it.
2. Remember names.
Humans’ neural connection between faces and names is initially weak. So during introductions, carefully listen to names and repeat them back to log them into short-term memory. Write down the names as soon as you can, and study and test yourself on names and faces. Before meetings and interactions, prime your brain by reviewing names.
3. Ask questions.
Many newcomers don’t ask important questions of colleagues because they don’t want to bother busy people or make poor impressions. Recognize the minimal social risk in asking a dumb question. (If an Internet search doesn’t reveal an obvious answer, it’s probably a smart question. So fire away.)
4. Start relationships.
Find opportunities to build relationships with people important to your role. Approach them before or after meetings, invite them to lunch or happy hour, or socialize at company events.
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