Getting to Know People Outside Your Department

Monish SubherwalBlogLeave a Comment

I used to hate the saying “first impressions are last impressions!”  It drove me nuts. Over time, I realized I hated that saying because I don’t think I did a great job when meeting new people! I sucked!

And the reality is – most people do too. Don’t be that person.  Work on mastering “the meet and greet” – the first time you meet someone to get to know them (typically 1 on 1 private meeting).

Why are “meet and greets” so important?

The first time you meet someone is a very important time, because it can set the stage of the remainder of the relationship.

My manager was awesome because when I joined, he encouraged me to meet people across my department and within my department.  If your manager doesn’t offer the suggestion to do some “meet and greets”, bring it up with him/her.  Doesn’t matter if you are new or not – get started wherever you are at.

The following things begin to happen during “meet and greets” that makes them pivotal:

  • Building rapport – seeing if you are similar to the other person and getting each other’s world.
  • Alignment – seeing if you see eye to eye with the other person.
  • Exposure – seeing who’s who in your company and sharing with them who you are.
  • Feeling people out – seeing who’s friendly or not.

Earlier I mentioned I used to “suck” at the meet and greet. However, now I think I’m improving. How? Well, if you know me, I’m a huge fan of setting up structures for yourself. I created a simple “Meet and Greet” framework that I’ll share with you below.

Why Have a Framework?

Before I jump into the framework, I want to mention why a framework is important. It’s important because most of the time when you meet people you are either:
1. Phony – Trying to look good and make a good impression
2. Stifled – Stuck in your head and unable to express yourself fully

And to be honest, #1 is really you not being present either.

The framework keeps you focused on the OTHER person and understanding their needs.  After all, you weren’t hired to solve your OWN problems.  You were hired to solve OTHER people’s problems.

Preparing for something as simple as meeting others is a sign to others that you care. It’s the preparation alone that separates you from others – that sets a good foundation for your future relationships.

With that, here are the 6 steps for creating a solid first impression.

Step 1: Do some simple research on who you will be meeting.

I write down the following:

  • Their Role/Title
  • Their manager
  • Their corporate page (copy the link to their official corporate page in case your company has an intranet with an org chart and profiles – if not, skip this)

Step 2: Know your intro.

Write down some points about yourself! Things about yourself that you would like to tell the other person. Here’s some things I mention:

  • Tell them WHY you think you should be meeting (ex: I wanted to get to know your department more, etc.)
  • Give some background on who you are
  • Tell them what your role is
  • Tell them what you do
  • Tell them where we’re you prior to this job (optional)
  • Tell them something personal (good for establishing some rapport)

Step 3: Discovery: Ask them about their goals, strategies, and priorities.

Finding out what the other person is trying to accomplish is SUPER valuable.  Most people don’t even do this.  Here are some good questions that center around knowing the other person’s agenda:

  • What do you do?
  • What are the projects you are working on? (this should start illustrating a strategy to you)
  • What are the intentions of these projects (how does it fit in with the bigger picture product, UX, company, division strategies)?
  • Are there any other initiatives and efforts to follow the strategy?
  • What’s the scope of work?
  • Current status of things?

Step 4: Knowing their goals (Step 3), what are they struggling with and how are they measuring success?

  • What are the challenges? Obstacles?
  • What is the aspiration? Desired outcomes?
  • Focus areas? Scope?
  • Guiding principles? Mantras?
  • Activities? Capabilities?
  • How do you measure success?  What are some of the metrics?

Step 5: Ask who are their partners in crime.

  • Which stakeholders and buy in is needed? Support from higher up?
  • On the design side who have you worked with?

Step 6: Thank them and make sure to follow up and add them on LinkedIn and your company chat.

  • Send follow up thank you email
  • Be sure to add them online! (on chat or other system)

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