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Making a Name for Yourself in New Territory

June 2018- By Carl Pritchard, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, Apex Systems Contributor and an internationally recognized author, lecturer and trainer


You just moved. You’re on vacation. You’ve been promoted to another building. You’re on a temporary assignment.

And you're alone.

It can be frustrating, lonely and distracting. New territory brings new challenges and new dynamics, but it also brings amazing opportunities.

It’s Day One – Hello!

The rules for the early days of the move are relatively simple.

  1. Learn names – In the early days, everyone will be willing to tell you their name. And you’ll be more than happy to completely lose track of who is who. If you want to learn their names, carry a pen and a business card with you. The business card is not for sharing. It’s where you’re going to write down their names when you meet them. Bob? I don’t want to lose track of who you are. Just a second. Jot down their name on your business card. The simple act of writing commits their name to kinesthetic memory. And if you forget? You pull out the card at the end of the day. BOB! Oh, yeah. The guy with the really bushy eyebrows. Bushy Brow Bob. Got it.
  2. Begin routines – Pick a set of regular haunts. Gas stations. Starbucks®. Grocery stores. And hit the same ones at the same time on a regular basis. Every other day. Once a week. Opposite Thursdays. Routines generally mean you’ll run into some of the same people. You’ll become a familiar face to those around you, even if you don’t chat with them.
  3. Ask for help. After you’ve been in a new locale for a few months, people don’t expect you to need help. In the first weeks? They’re expecting it and appreciate being seen as veterans in your new environment. Ask away!

It’s Month One – Brand!

As you’re getting settled in in the new office/home/environment, it’s your chance to brand (or if you so desire, to re-brand) yourself. Who are you going to be? It’s time to fine-tune that elevator speech to be sure others will remember you for what you want to be remembered for. I’m the woman who... I’m the guy that... You need to boil it down to 20 words or less.

Many of us live significant portions of our lives allowing others to brand us. A new territory means that you have an amazing opportunity to establish a new brand. I learned this in summer camp as a pre-teen. I was surprised upon arrival to learn that I had an almost familial doppelgänger in one of the counselors, a guy named “Moose.” (Camp tends to bring out the best in naming conventions). He was a big, dominant character at camp. People gravitated to him. But because I looked a lot like a miniature version of him, people started calling me “Little Moose.” (Yes, I was “mini-me” before it was cool). What was intriguing was that I was now attributed with all of the personality traits of Big Moose. And people saw me in a completely different light than my schoolmates back home.

You have a chance, any time you’re in new territory, to become your own new character. And a lot of it boils down to knowing, in advance, what that character looks and sounds like. I’m the woman who... I’m the guy that.... As you fill in those blanks with just a few carefully chosen words, you can be transformed.

It’s Year One – Lead!

What if I don’t WANT to lead?

You have a choice as a new face in the crowd. Leader or follower. Servant leadership is all the buzz in business schools these days. Want to win hearts and influence others? It’s all about leading. And as a newer face in the crowd, you’ll be expected to adopt a role—Leader or Follower. If you adopt the role as follower, others will have the opportunity to define what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. If you adopt the role as leader...or servant leader...you retain control of your environment.

When we first moved to our current neighborhood, I found out something interesting. I was the only person in the neighborhood with a snowblower. Having lived in Maine and Ohio, I understood the need. Living in Maryland, many of my neighbors did not. And it snowed and snowed. And my snowblower ran almost non-stop, as I wanted to ensure my more elderly neighbors didn’t kill themselves moving snow. I didn’t do it as an act of control. I did it because I wanted them safe. I wanted them well. Servant leadership is being a servant first because you genuinely want to be. The fun thing that transpired over time is that my wife and I became influencers in the neighborhood, with one neighbor ultimately dubbing me as the “Mayor of Wilson Place”.

I didn’t serve in order to get accolades. I did it because I wanted the best for the people around me. And those neighbors are now my friends. They are friends I’ll retain for life.

So You’re in New Territory

Set up a game plan for the early days...the early months...and Year One. Know who you want to be (even if it’s someone different from who you are now)! And work in the best interests of those around you. It’s a simple strategy to make a name for yourself in new territory.

Carl Pritchard, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, is an Apex Systems Contributor and an internationally recognized author, lecturer and trainer. He is the author of seven texts in project management, and serves as the U.S. Correspondent to the UK Project Management magazine, Project Manager Today. He produced the Audio PMP Prep: Conversations on Passing the PMP® Exam with Bruce Falk (just released for PMBOK Guide 6th Edition). And he’s hosting Seminars at Sea, sailing from Baltimore October 2018. He welcomes your feedback at carl@carlpritchard.com. Follow him on Twitter at @carlpritchard and @pmpprep

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