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The New Kid On The Block

How do you feel when you walk into a group where you don't know anyone?

Whether that's a networking event, chamber of commerce, a new job even, or in my case what I'm talking about is a MasterMind event.

I went to the situation I'm talking about a few months ago.  I walked into the room and I didn't know anybody. What was interesting at the time for me was that everybody seemed to know everybody else. I was the new kid on the block.  They hadn't seen each other for quite a while and they were all hugging each other and all, "Hi, how are you," and, "Oh, it's so great to see you."

The excitement level was great - everybody was welcoming each other warmly but ignoring the few of us who were new.

I think interestingly because it's a high-performing group, the majority of people that were new were fairly introverted.  Speaking to some of them afterward about this was quite interesting because I thought I was the only one.

I thought I was the only person who felt like an outsider. I thought I was the only person who wasn't feeling welcomed. I thought I was the only one who didn't know how to go up and say, "Hey, hi, I'm here."

I felt like an outsider. I felt like I didn't belong. I felt like I wasn't wanted. But in talking to a few of the other newbies that were there at the time later, they felt the same thing.

Fast forward to an event a few months later, same group but this time triple the size.  Lots of new members - the core of the old group plus the new intake. The second time is always easier because you've got to know a few people, so you've got a few friends in the group, which is great. But the one thing that I was conscious of was all these new people.  I didn't want them to feel what I had felt at the previous one.

I didn't want them to feel like they weren't welcome, that they were the outsider. And so, I made it my intention to get to know as many of the new people as I could.

Nothing had changes for me - I am still the same introverted person that doesn't really want to insert myself into a group of people.  But I really made the effort to put myself out there to introduce myself to the new people in the MasterMind.

People don't realize that behind that, "Hey, here I am," this bright, happy, cheerful, bubbly person, is actually an introvert, not hiding very low behind the surface.

In certain situations, that introvert is exactly the personality. In other situations, it can be hidden away and it's not so obvious.  I think the thing is that the onus is on us all to ensure that when you're in a group environment and you have new people coming into that community, that you do make them feel welcome.

I was at another networking - not my favorite kind of place to go - but everybody was welcoming, everybody was quite happy to sit back and have the introductory conversation with each other

The leader of that particular group was quite active in introducing people and that meant other people started to introduce people and it became really welcoming.

So, when you go to a new group, obviously you need to try to make friends with people and get to know them, but for people that are in existing groups, the responsibility is there to really make sure that you welcome new people and that you mean it.

It's about making an effort to ensure that there is a way for those new people to be integrated in, and become part of, that community - because that's what we all want.

We all want to belong, we all want to be part of it.

If you are in an existing group, make a pact with a few oldies that you will sure that if there's someone kind of standing by themselves, one of you go over and introduce yourself. 

Bringing those people into the fold actually creates a better community.

Obviously, these instances are all about face-to-face, but the same can apply online.

Find ways to welcome and weave in new members.  And remember that not everybody's able to just go and say, "Hi, I'm me. Who are you?" A lot of people are quite intimidated when they go to new groups and places where they don't know anybody.

Look at what ways you can help new people included.


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