I attended a meeting of an industry networking group that has been around for a number of years. There are a ton of veterans in this group with decades of customer success stories and experience earned in the trenches. Almost all the members have known each for years, so there are no punches pulled and a ton of inside jokes zooming around the Zoom meeting room — and I’m the new guy.
While I’m personally a big fan of sarcasm and can appreciate a friendly barb that stops just short of drawing blood, I don’t know the people in the group very well and I certainly wouldn’t presume to take a shot at anyone. Nor do I possess the knowledge and experience in the industry that this group of individuals obviously has in spades — so I am here to listen and absorb knowledge and learn as much as I can from this generous group of professionals who gather once each week to share their wisdom with all comers.
As the new guy, I’m certainly not going to jump in and tell them how to run their meetings or point out that the same five people do most of the speaking each week. Mostly because I don’t know any of those silent members either. Perhaps they prefer to sit quietly and bask in the knowledge being shared by their peers. I think there might be some unspoken questions and comments lurking beneath the surface, but it’s too soon make any issue of it and I’m too new to begin stomping around in unfamiliar waters and making a big ol’ mess. No one is forcing those others to be silent, and I’ve heard the hosts on more than one occasion invite feedback and questions from the others in attendance.
However, as a newcomer to the group, I think there is some value in sharing the impression left on me after attending 3 or 4 of these meetings. If they hear my input but decide these are the impressions they want to make, or don’t see any issue with my meeting takeaways, the problem is mine and perhaps it’s not the best group for my needs.
On the other hand, if this is not how they want to be perceived by outsiders or new members, they have the option to make changes to impact those impressions.
What kind of impressions do you think you’re making on your new customers and new employees?
Are you so rooted in your way of doing things that you’ve lost touch with how those things may appear to an outsider?
Perhaps you aware and made a conscious decision to keep things the way they are.
There is something to be said for being transparent and giving a real impression of the kind of company you are and a public display of how you treat those you work with. New employees and new clients alike will have no excuse for expecting to be treated any differently — after all, you showed them exactly who you are in advance of any business development.
Overall, I think behaving unabashedly true to who you are is preferable to pretending to be something you are not, otherwise a customer or co-worker could be in for a rude awakening if you were sickly sweet and perfectly polite during the first impression phase, and then went 180-degrees in the opposite direction when you actually began working together.
The takeaway is to be aware of the impression you’re making on others, and be deliberate in making changes (or not!)