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!