I’ll always remember my first day at Business Insider.
It was a Thursday in late February of 2014. I walked briskly down the snow-lined streets of New York to arrive at our former Park Avenue headquarters on time. It was cold, and I was nervous. But also quite excited.
I had read (and written) so many articles about starting a new job, so I was confident I knew exactly what to do that first day.
I said “Hi” to my new team; attended mandatory training sessions; filled out some paperwork; enjoyed lunch with my boss; learned where everything was; and smiled until my cheeks hurt.
But there’s one important thing I didn’t do that I’d later regret: I didn’t formally introduce myself to everyone.
Of course I exchanged pleasantries and introduced myself to those who sat near me and the people with whom I’d be working closely, but I should have made a more valiant effort to get to know everyone I came in contact with. Instead, I just smiled and waved at the unfamiliar faces I passed on my way to the restroom and in line at the water cooler. In some cases, I even made small talk. But I didn’t always extend my hand and say my name.
I’m really not sure why. I like to think I have good manners. Perhaps I’m a little bit shy? Maybe I had a lot on my mind that day and simply forgot?
Whatever the reason, I wish I had done things differently.
When you don’t introduce yourself to someone the first (or second, or third) time you “meet” them, it gets harder and more awkward to do it later. It can also get you into some embarrassing situations and slow down your work flow.
But, perhaps most importantly, it may give your new colleagues a poor first impression of you as someone who isn’t friendly or approachable — maybe even self-absorbed — which can be seriously detrimental to your career.
Two years later, I’ve learned most of my coworkers’ names, but I still wonder how many meaningful relationships I missed out on by not introducing myself to everyone that first day.
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