How to Succeed at Being New

How many times in your life were you new? Whether starting a new job or relationship, moving to a new neighborhood, joining a new organization, or just being new to a gathering, we do this hundreds of times in our lifetime. As per Keith Rollag, author of What to Do When You're New: How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations, there are definite steps you can take to succeed at being new.

Keith starts off the book by listing the five skills necessary to do "new" well:
  1. introduce ourselves to strangers;
  2. learn and remember names;
  3. ask questions;
  4. seek out and start new relationships; and
  5. perform new things in front of others.
He then spends a chapter on each of these, giving tips on how to overcome them.

As an introvert, I still have issues introducing myself to strangers in large gatherings but the one I need to work on most is remembering names. I was glad to read that this is quite common and that we all have difficulty with this, since our brains are not wired to remember names easily. We can, however, improve our ability to do so, and below are a few of the many tips Keith shares:
  • use social media to find an image of the person you'll be meeting so you can practice associating their name and "face" before meeting them;
  • actively listen to their name as they say it and then repeat it back to them within the conversation;
  • as soon as you leave their presence, write their name down and then review it later.
And if the above hasn't worked, he provides tips on how to ask for their name again without it being too awkward.

Keith finishes with an entire chapter on how we can help others be new by providing tips for each of the new skills they'll need to learn.

Think back to the last time you were the newbie. Which of the five skills was most challenging for you? How can you help someone else overcome that?

Review: Not Taught: What It Takes to be Successful in the 21st Century that Nobody's Teaching You

Not Taught: What It Takes to be Successful in the 21st Century that Nobody's Teaching You Not Taught: What It Takes to be Successful in the 21st Century that Nobody's Teaching You by Jim Keenan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We all know that there are things in life not taught in school, and if you're lucky, you pick them up in time to succeed at work and life. Well, Jim Keenan—after figuring them out for himself after being let go yet again—decided to help us all discover them sooner.

Many of Jim's "lessons" are not easy. They expect us to expand our network, create content, think, take risks, learn to sell, build expertise instead of experience, keep learning, and many other things that many of us rather not do. But as Jim learned firsthand, in this new and quickly changing land of work, these are the things necessary to stand out and to not only succeed, but to also have control of your future and options to fall back on.

The book is fairly short and a quick read, so I recommend it to anyone and everyone who wants a life with more options and control.

Review: Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World

Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World by Kelly Hoey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an introvert at heart, "networking" has always been something I struggled with and have had to do more of than I'd ideally like. J. Kelly Hoey, in her book Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World, teaches the smart and targeted way to do this—even if you're an introvert and especially in today's world.

So networking is not about exchanging business cards or asking people to help you get a job. And it definitely should not be done only when you need help but always, to build relationships that last and to benefit both sides. And networking is everything you do, from the social media you participate in to how you respond to your email to which groups you choose to participate in.

Even if you think you're a good networker, Kelly and the many expert networkers she interviewed will share tips to further improve your networking game. And for the rest of us, this is a must read.

What's Your Mental Hangup?

Is there something everyone keeps telling you you're good at and your response has been denial? Well, perhaps you should rethink this.

I just finished reading Laura Berman Fortgang's book Now What? Know Who Your Are and Get What You Want, 90 Days to a New Life Direction yesterday, and she advises using this technique—paying attention to what others attribute to you—as a way to find your purpose. I had read it, but only today while at the gym did the dots connect for me. (So everything they say about exercise getting your brain juices going is true.)

For the last ten plus years, I've been told how great I am at networking and/or what a great network I have. I'd always scoff since I actually hate networking, but I enjoy getting to know people, talking to them, and making connections. This is why I actually enjoyed and succeeded at my first business development job more than I expected.

Despite this, I did not consider myself a salesperson and actually resisted getting another sales job for a long time. I'm an operations person and all about process and people. But the people part means I enjoy interacting and helping others. And if I want to eventually get the C-level opportunity I am working towards, I need to get over my mental hangup and recognize that sales is necessary and not evil. Perhaps I need to reread Daniel Pink's To Sell Is Human.

Ironically, I do have sales experience from my college and post-college days but had forgotten about it until recently. And even more ironically, some of the warmest and most helpful people I know are salespeople. I should not let the ones that give the profession a bad name ruin it for me and the others, nor should I allow my own mental hangup to get in the way of what everyone has recognized comes naturally to me.

Fortunately I got over myself in time for a great new part-time opportunity that will allow me to use all my talents, including the one I didn't admit to until now.

So are you fighting your own mental hangups and yourself? What are you going to do to overcome this?

PS I wrote this blog post last year, and although my situation and focus has changed, the lessons learned at the time I wrote this are still valid (although further evolved) so I have left the post as originally written.