Meeting everyone at a new job

In my week by week plan for starting to manage a new team, I talked about my plan to follow this cold start algorithm for meeting people. I’m about 2.5 months into the new job now, and I learned one important thing:

If you ask everyone you meet who else you should meet, they’ll try hard to think of someone that nobody else has suggested. At a big enough company, this can go on forever.

In the first month, I had one-on-one meetings with 30 people. Each one added at least one more name to my list of people to meet.

Here’s how it went down:

  • Me: Thanks for the great chat! Who else would you suggest I meet with?
  • Them: Hmm…have you met Suzy?
  • Me: Yep.
  • Them: Oh ok. How about Carol?
  • Me: Not yet, she’s on my list though!
  • Them: Hmm. Maybe Marcus?
  • Me: Oh, that’s a new one!
  • Them: <proud> Oh yes, there you go!

When you ask someone a question like that, they’re determined to provide value in their answer. They’ll rack their brain until they find a new name for you. Eventually I had to declare bankruptcy on my list and focus on relationships with the people I had already met.

In retrospect, here’s what I should have done:

  • Each time someone suggests a name, increment a counter for that name.
  • Sort the list by that counter and pick the top name to meet with next.
  • Repeat until I reach the people who were only mentioned once, then stop there.

Next time, I guess!

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