Photograph by Hero Images via Getty Images
By Kat Cohen
June 15, 2016

The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you make friends at a new job? is written by Kat Cohen, founder and CEO of IvyWise.

The first day of work at a new job is a lot like the first day of school. You’ve picked out the perfect outfit, you’re up early and anxious, and one of your first thoughts is, “I hope they like me.” We’ve all been through the experience of walking into a new office and feeling a little out of place. Just like at the start of the school year, making new friends when starting a new job is all about being open, outgoing, and confident. Your attitude and mindset can either help you get off to a great start with your new coworkers, or leave you playing catch-up.

First impressions matter
Clearly you made a great impression in your interview—you got the job. But your first day is like starting over from scratch. Walk into the office like it’s still your interview. Dress appropriately, speak with authority and confidence, and stay engaged in conversation. Ask questions. Listen. Dive in. If you start off engaged and eager to work, your coworkers are likely to be drawn to your energy.

See also: How to Make Friends at a New Job

Communication is key
When working with students who are starting a summer internship, I always tell them to be professional and build a good relationship with those they’re working with. There’s a lot that students can learn from mentors or internship supervisors, and communication is essential to building rapport and establishing a great working relationship. The same applies to working professionals. Communication, whether it’s asking questions, keeping colleagues informed on the status of a project, or just checking in to make sure you’re doing something correctly, can go a long way. Now, you don’t want to seem like you’re lost or overwhelmed—always try to find the answer to your question on your own first—but not communicating enough can start you off on the wrong foot with your coworkers and hinder relationship-building. Great communication is the foundation to any successful friendship, both inside and outside of the workplace.

 

Be yourself
This is advice we always give to our students: Don’t try to be something you’re not. Show up to work as the best version of yourself and let the rest work itself out. Navigating a new office atmosphere is difficult for a lot of people, and coming into it with a false presentation of yourself will only make it more challenging. Fit is important in any setting—whether it’s an office or a college campus—and you’re not where you are by accident. Hiring managers look at fit and personality in addition to credentials when hiring for a certain position. You’re there because they saw something in you that they think meshes well with their office culture and goals, so let those aspects of your personality shine.

Making friends with new colleagues can go a long way toward a rewarding job experience. If you’re happy at work, you’re going to be positive, more productive, and better positioned to achieve your goals. Go into a new job with an open mind and heart, great communication skills, and the will to let your true self shine through.

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