Networking Information

Hey, Whos the New Guy? How to Make Guests and First Timers Feel Welcome


The New Guy is a person we all know. And regardless of age, gender, race or personality - spotting The New Guy and stepping onto their front porch is your duty as an existing member of any organization. Here's why:

You become an ambassador. If it's their first time, your initial step onto their front porch will serve as a reflection of the welcoming nature of your organization. They'll walk out of that meeting thinking: you know I felt right at home with that group. Those guys were really welcoming!

You make an UNFORGETTABLE? first impression. Not only will you make an UNFORGETTABLE? first impression for your organization, but you will leave your mark in The New Guy's memory as "the first person who made them feel welcomed to the group." Do you remember the first person you talked to at one of your organizations? Call them right now and thank them.

You become a resource. Tell The New Guy all the ins and outs of the organization. Give them the scoop - in a non-gossipy way - about the group and all the people you know. This will help them determine who they'd like to meet in the future. Also offer yourself as an available contact for just about anything. Try saying, "Hey - I've been a member for a while now, so if you need anything or have any questions, I'm here for you." There's no better feeling than the security of having at least one friend in a new organization.

How to Spot The New Guy
All New Guys adhere to a standard of New Guy Protocol. In this article, you'll learn some of the most common behaviors that will empower you to extend hospitality to those who need it most. Remember, approachability is a two way street: you must be approachable to, and you must be the one to approach others.

Eye contact
Is the number one indicator that conversation is desirable. In other words, when people avoid eye contact, what they're really avoiding is an interaction. So when you see The New Guy walk in to the room; stop dead in their tracks and a) stare blankly into space, b) check out every person that walks by and/or c) meticulously examine every crack in the beautiful white ceiling - it means they need you.

To get more specific on this type of New Guy Protocol, let's examine a psychological barrier many New Guys put up called an involvement shield. It's exactly what it sounds like: an object that keeps you involved and serves as a shield from communication. Think about this: why do people read books, listen to headphones or solve crosswords while riding the bus? Sure, those are all fun, enriching and engaging activities - but so is conversation. The only difference is, conversation actually requires another person; whereas these involvement shields are independent of interaction.

A perfect example of an involvement shield is the organization's program. Whether it's a church bulletin, speaker outline, announcement sheet or just the schedule of events, isn't it amazing how long some people will spend with their noses buried in something so mundane? Do you honestly think The New Guy is SO immersed in that engaging, one page schedule of upcoming events that they've actually been re-reading it over and over for the past 12 minutes?

Or is it possible they're staring blankly at the piece of paper thinking to themselves: okay the meeting should start pretty soon so if I just sit here and look like I'm completely involved with this stupid agenda nobody will come up and bother me and then I can eat my salad and get the heck out of here before anyone realizes I'm The New Guy.

Other common involvement shields are:

*Cell phones
*Promotional tables with information/giveaways
*Snack/buffet table
*Signage on the wall
*Centerpieces

Never Eat Alone
Another behavior you'll notice is that New Guys don't often arrive with another member; although that is one effective technique for acclimating into the group. So because they're usually on their own, it's not uncommon for them to sit by themselves. Of course, don't assume that someone who sits by themselves is new - their tablemate or friend may be in the bathroom or walking around the room somewhere.

Here's a great tip: every meeting you attend, take a few minutes to look over the room. Find out who's sitting alone. Take note of the seats on either side of the person to see if they're taken. If it appears there's room for one more, politely ask to join them. Most likely they'll be thrilled you stepped onto their front porch and inform you about their association with the group.

Who Stands Out?
Inconsistent clothing is another telltale sign that someone is new to the organization. If you belong to a group that maintains a causal and comfortable dress code and someone you've never seen before walks in with a three piece suit, you can bet he's The New Guy. (Or the speaker!)

Also look for inconsistency in the nametags. Nametags are easy indicators of the level of someone's involvement in a group. Depending on the organization, most board members, staff and veterans will have slightly different nametags than The New Guys. Some New Guys might not even have nametags!

Lastly, one of the toughest parts about being The New Guy is confusion about when to show up. You can look at the meeting time on the website, in the brochure or on the bulletin, but unless you've been there in the past, you won't have the insider information on when most people arrive.

So if you get to the meeting and see someone who's obviously been there for at least 15 minutes prior to your arrival, they're probably new. Also, if during the program, a meeting, service or speech you observe someone sneak in the back of the room unnoticed by most of the audience - they're also probably new.

It's tough being The New Guy. It's uncomfortable; you don't know anyone and you stand out like a sore thumb. But we've all been there before. So past experiences motivate us to take it upon ourselves to become greeters and extend hospitality to those who need it most.

© 2005 All Rights Reserved.

Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, "The World's Foremost Expert on Nametags" and the author of HELLO my name is Scott and The Power of Approachability. He helps people MAXIMIZE their approachability and become UNFORGETTABLE communicators - one conversation at a time. For more information contact Front Porch Productions at http://www.hellomynameisscott.com.


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