Monday, May 9, 2011

Finding Community

No one likes being the new guy. Oh yes it's nice being at a new place or have a new experience, but it's different when you are the only one who is going through it. Maybe that is why there are some things that I still have incredible difficulty doing on my own (seeing a movie in theatres, for instance). I know I'm not the only one who feels this way - perhaps it's even why the chances of doing something or going somewhere increases dramatically when there is someone else to do it with. Usually with each new stage or season in our life comes an opportunity to be with new people, a new community. These opportunities can be presented by moving to a new city, home, school, church, club, workplace or non-profit.

So, what should you do when you discover yourself finding a new community? I have three suggestions.

1. do research
Like when applying to a dream job, you visit the employer's website and discover what they're all about. Examine every nook and cranny, every face and name that appears, browse & memorize their history, mission, and vision. Are these things you agree with?

When you are entering into a new community, it's good to be prepared and know the functions of how the community works. If you're not sure, ask! Maybe there are people who have been in that particular community before, you can ask them what the environment is like or how some of the people are.

2. learn names
Networking is huge, not only in business but in relationships with people. period. Talk to your network about the new community you're finding, perhaps they know some people. Write those names down and track them down! It is a great compliment to show someone you respect them by simply remembering their name. Finding out/learning names can even be helped with a little "research", but if you are a person who is not good with remembering names there are a few helpful hints:
- associate their name with a physical feature they may have (this can also work with similar interests, or of something that is significant to you - remember to not memorize but synthesize)
- say their names repeatedly in conversation. In conversation doesn't mean you stand next to them and say their name repeatedly. It means that you address them by name as you talk with them. (I really like your tie, Peter. ... Did you know, Peter, that I also enjoy Mango bubble tea? ... Peter, what are some movies you can suggest for me to go see this weekend?).
The way for people to remember your name is to be impressionable. I tend to introduce myself as "Peter with a P" How else would you spell it, you ask. Exactly. Yeah. That's right. It's about lasting impressions.

3. be proactive
This would include the first two points, as in you can't do the research and learn names without first being proactive. It really is on you to go out there and take initiative. If you feel uncared for, start caring yourself. Let those around you know you're new, especially if you are alone. Since you are proactive in getting to know new people, take note of who is being proactive at getting to know you.

Have you ever been the "new" person? What are some things you learned about finding new community? Or what are some challenges you're facing?

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