Monday, 15 October 2012

Meetings and meeting people

One of the exciting aspects of starting a new job is meeting new people. Over the last month I have met lots of new people and been to lots of meetings.  As far as meeting new people in a work environment is concerned it can be overwhelming and I think you have to take on board the fact that you are not going to remember everyone and will have to follow it up later.  One way that I have tried to do this is by making a quick note of people's names and then looking them up later. Or asking them if it would be alright to drop them an email in the following few days.  Email makes it so much easier to follow people up as you can usually find them in the institutions global email address book even if you were not quite sure of their name.  It also helps that it will have their department so for instance if you meet someone who you know is from Registry or Chemistry but didn't quite catch their name you can go and look up their department and job title and track them down. You have to be pro active to some extent and make the most of the fact that you are new and can ask people if they want to meet for a coffee/ chat/ update because you're interested in what they do or would appreciate their advice etc. I'm getting better at this than I would have been in the past although I've only realised this  on reflection as I've done it without thinking. You have to be careful not to put your foot in it and work out whether someone is going to be happy to talk to you or going to be too busy or important but with a bit of care, it works.  At least if you are new and make a faux pas you've got a good excuse being new. I have been very fortunate in that everyone at University of Edinburgh has been very kind, helpful and friendly. I have also met some very interesting people who are efficient and clever which appeals greatly.
I've been to quite a few formal and informal meetings. At the start I was invited to meetings in order to talk about our part of the overall project. The Student Information Points are a small part of the Enhancing Student Support project. At first I talked in general terms about what we were hoping to do and how we envisaged it would work. As time has gone on it has been possible to start feeding back on our progress and give information of the current situation and further developments.  The more practice you get with meetings the better and I have become more experienced especially over the last 5 years. Every institution, organisation, committee, group does it slightly differently. Sometimes it is very formal and people speak through the chair, sometimes it is a free for all. You have to work out who are the most important people either by rank or by stake in the project or group. Sometimes there are minutes, sometimes notes and sometimes it s up to you to take your own. The more experience you have then the easier it is to work out the system and pattern that is being used. I tend to prepare a set of notes in advance of what I could say if asked or if I have already been asked to contribute, I'll take a summary sheet with me. You don't necessarily have to use them but its good to have. It gives some structure and generally makes a better impression.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great post Claire. The idea of 'going for a coffee' doesn't have to stop after the first couple of weeks either. Last week I was introduced to a member of our college who works off site. We've both been at the college for a few years, but were new to each other. We will be working together in the future too, so when I was invited to visit her and see where and how she works I jumped at the chance. I'm much clearer on what she needs from our team now that I've seen how she operates :O)