Being new in a group can be intimidating, but having a plan will help you find your place and handle anxiety with ease.
No matter where you are in life, there will always be times when you are “the new person” in a group. Even experts in their fields will have to branch out sometimes to try new technologies, expand their networks, or grow their leadership skills. We have a tendency to look at change or “being the new kid” as a negative thing, but in a lot of ways, it’s positive. It gives you the opportunity to learn from a whole group of new people and may expose you to some things you hadn’t thought about before.
However, networking can feel tough. When you are getting to know a whole new group of people, you might be asking yourself: What if they don’t like me? What if they aren’t interested in hearing about what I do or my business? Or possibly worse, what if they are interested and want to take in the next step? (Gulp…enter the fear of success.)
We all know those fears, and no matter how old you get, they will always come creeping back to you. The bright side is that you can approach being a new member with a strategy. Like anything else, having a plan keeps you focused on your purpose, which is a great way to keep the fears at bay.
Whenever I join a new community, I keep this specific strategy in mind as I’m entering. It keeps me focused on the benefits on networking as the newbie instead of the fears.
1) Make a commitment to attend regularly and make it a priority. Give it some time to see how it goes for you. Committing yourself to one new group and going to every meeting (or most meetings) is better than committing yourself to six new groups and never showing up. You’ll create better relationships with people in the group and get a good reputation by consistently being present.
2) Get to know the organization’s leadership and their most active members right away. Not only does this help you to quickly get acclimated and build your presence, but it will also give you a feel for whether or not the group is right for you in the long run. If you don’t click with the leadership or its most active members, you will a sense much sooner than later whether you will enjoy being a part of the group.
3) Ask how you can help. Similar to #2, getting involved is a great way to learn about how the group functions and whether or not it’s a good fit. It also gives you a purpose at the meetings and is a great excuse to talk with a lot of people. For example, if you help with registration you will get to talk with every single member that shows up—what an opportunity!
4) Being prepared will not only help you feel better about the event, but will make a great impression on those around you. Make sure you have a clear nametag and know what you want to share in your “elevator pitch” (your brief general introduction). Getting involved with a new group is intimidating, so it’s important to practice your introduction beforehand.
5) Don’t be afraid to step up. If you like to give presentations, find out how the group chooses their presenters. If you find tabling is a good way to market, purchase an exhibitor table early on to set the stage and build recognition for who you are and what you do. People will see you as an expert and, much like #3, you’ll have a role, which is a great way to meet people.
Being new is one of the best things you can do because there are so many things we can learn from the people who haven’t come in to our lives yet. The group benefits, too from the fresh energy and perspectives we bring. Think of it this way: There are endless opportunities for you out there that you haven’t even discovered yet.
This holiday season, give yourself the gift of those opportunities and welcome more wonderful, inspiring people in to your life. They will be receiving a gift, too…by getting the chance to know you.