insight magazine

New Gig? Make a Great First Impression

These six tips will help you make friends and influence people during your first day on the job. By Bridget McCrea | Digital Exclusive - 2017


“Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.’” At least that’s what famed self-improvement and salesmanship expert Dale Carnegie says in his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Originally penned by Carnegie back in 1936, it’s still considered a bible of sorts for good communication skills and behaviors.

And while Carnegie probably didn’t foresee a time when mobile phones, social media, and instant messaging were the “go-to” business communication tools, his underlying message remains just as relevant today: Making friends and influencing people should be your goal from your very first day on the job onward.

In fact, Accounting Principals says a full 89 percent of hiring failures are the result of poor cultural fit, and 50 percent of employee engagement can be traced back to a failure to find affinity with the team. With that in mind, here are six factors essential to your “friend-making” strategy.

  1. Have a positive attitude

    Moods are infectious, which is why you want to think positive from the word go. While first day jitters are normal, taking the “never let them see you sweat” approach could be a lifesaver. Smile, shake hands confidently with all your new colleagues, and project an air of optimism and enterprise as you get to know your surroundings.

    Although it’s good to get to know people, don’t dwell on your past work success stories or tell everyone about your goal of becoming partner within two years. “You can share your ambitions,” says Ira S. Wolfe, president at Success Performance Solutions, a recruiting and employee selection firm, “but there’s a fine line between expressing your motivations and offending everyone around you before you even get to know them.”

  2. Always show your gratitude

    No doubt, the team will celebrate your arrival with lunch, happy hour, or some other social event. And no doubt your colleagues will take time out of their hectic day to show you where the break-room is, which printer’s the fastest, and where to find the closest Starbucks. However large or small the gesture, always express your appreciation in person and with authenticity.

  3. Find points of common interest

    The guy in marketing coaches Little League? You loved Little League. The head of HR studied in Italy? It’s at the top of your list of places to visit. The controller is an unabashed Marvel fan. Iron Man is your hero! Find points upon which to come together, over which to share, and through which to bond. It’s all about building genuine rapport and finding where your affinities are.

  4. Remember everyone you meet

    Learn and remember the names of your colleagues and fellow team members as quickly as possible. It sounds easy enough, but this simple move can have a big impact on how you’re treated during your first few days on the job. Bad with names? Then try some memory tricks, like repeating a name as soon as you hear it to plant it in your mind, or making a visual association with a name when you hear it. Whatever tools you use, make it a priority to learn the names of everyone you’re going to be working with.

  5. Master your body language

    Confidence. An open mind. Approachability. These are qualities most readily communicated non-verbally. Avoiding eye contact does not inspire confidence. Frowning does not imply an open mind. Standing with your arms crossed does not invite people to approach you.

  6. Leave them wanting more
    We all have facts about ourselves that make us interesting and memorable. Maybe you’re a champion volleyball player. Or you’re in a band with your college friends. Or you volunteer at the animal shelter every other week. Or you just came back from a family trip to Ireland. Or you speak fluent Greek! Share the things about you and your history that make you unique (as long as they’re work appropriate). The more people feel they know you as a person, the more they will bond with you.

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