To make a great first impression and build your brand from the moment you start your new job, avoid these major missteps:
1. Eat lunch in your office. Visibility is key. Take every opportunity to interact with others – including spending time in the cafeteria or going out to lunch with colleagues. These “non-work” moments are often the most powerful for building your brand and connecting emotionally with others throughout the organization. In addition to lunch, visit the water cooler or coffee station so you can connect serendipitously with colleagues.
2. Multi-task during meetings. Don’t look distracted from Day 1. Avoid the temptation to interact with your phone or iPad during meetings. Pay attention. Show that you are listening, engaged and focused. Even though your friends may not have an issue with you being on your phone during a get-together, this kind of behavior in a professional setting is not going to have a positive effect on your brand – especially during those all-important first connections. And, you could miss an opportunity to make a major brand-building contribution to the meeting.
3. Assume you’re expected to know all the answers. Ask for help, guidance, and support as you need it. It is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of engagement and confidence. People are more willing to help you in the early days – and asking for help is a great way to start to develop relationships.
4. Be silent. The best time to create a positive first impression is upon arrival. So contribute to the discussion. Of course, you don’t want to contribute for the sake of being noticed. Make sure when you speak up, you are adding value. Acknowledging others for their brilliance is a great way to be visible without looking like you are trying to hog the spotlight.
5. Enjoy the downtime and wait for direction. Self-starters are rewarded. Your manager is busy and may not have the time to give you a step-by-step plan for what she/he needs you to do. You were hired for a reason. Jump in. Take initiative. Show them how valuable you are.
6. Be spontaneous. Flexibility is great, but spend some time that first week building your strategic plan to identify how you can make the greatest impact in supporting your team’s mission. Know what fits in the scope and what falls outside so you don’t get distracted by time-wasting tasks. Plan before you act.
7. Get caught up in office gossip. There is no office culture without it. And it’s the fastest way to sabotage your career. Start off positive, and stay away from conversations that begin with “you won’t believe what he said in a meeting today.” Office gossip and other divisive behaviors are rarely helpful when you are looking to establish your reputation as a leader. Keep your world clear of those who like to stir the pot.
8. Try too hard. You will make a better impression when you show your humble side rather than displaying an arrogant, know-it-all attitude. You want people to know you’re smart, but overdoing it can be a career killer. Demonstrate your expertise by contributing value, not chest-pounding.
9. Ignore cultural norms. Know what the norms are at your organization; they are surely an extension of the corporate brand. Being late for work (if you have set hours at your company) or late for meetings can send the wrong message. So can wearing ripped jeans to a client pitch, if that’s been identified as a specific no-no. Learn the norms and stick to them. Although personal branding is about standing out, you don’t want to be visible for the wrong reasons.
10. Underestimate the power of onboarding. When you attend onboarding training sessions, you are being given the gift of an instant professional network at your new company. The other newbies in the room likely come from different parts of the organization, and your careers may grow together over the years. Those people will be extremely valuable to you if you take the time to build relationships with them. In addition to all the important knowledge you will gain during orientation, make an effort to build your brand community.
By William Arruda
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