Throughout our lives, we have many “first days.” As the semester starts, I usually meet with PR freshman and give some tips on how to make the most of their first day in a course. I’ve also had the joy of advising our alumni as they step in to the first day of their new job. And, without a doubt, I’ve had my own share of first days – both in school and in career moves. Over the course of time, these are some of my top suggestions for those looking to build strong relationships from day one.
1) Be Intentional: Showing up is not enough. Being intentional is about purposeful living – rather than just showing up and waiting to find out what will happen, engage the experience fully. Research ahead of time what will be expected. For example, if it’s the first day on the job are there any pieces of documentation you’ll need for HR? Maybe there are meetings you will be in – if so, be sure you know what they’re about and come prepared with some thoughts for those. Be more than someone who shows up – be the kind of person who intentionally invests their time and energy in each activity.
2) Be Authentic: Building relationships in a new setting can be intimidating. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. If you know you struggle in new settings, consider coming up with some questions to ask those around you so you can get to know them. Be creative! Go beyond “how was your weekend?” and instead, consider something like “What’s one piece of advice you wish you had the first week here?”. People enjoy connecting and a genuine conversation is always welcome!
3) Be Connected: As you go about your first day, week and month, be intentional about pursuing connection. While it can be awkward because of being new, don’t be afraid to ask a colleague to lunch or send a quick email thanking someone for his or her help on a project. Just as you are learning a new role, you’re also developing a new facet to your network. Invest time in the people around you.
At my first job out of college, these tips helped me move from being the “new” person into an active member of a team where I felt connected, knew I could contribute, and genuinely enjoyed my time. As I’ve moved on through my career these are still the same pillars that help in each new season.
People make all the difference! Never turn a job into a task – realize it’s about a team. You’re working with people toward a common goal. The sooner you develop those connections the better your experience will be.