Dear Giacomo: First Impressions

Nonprofit master Giacomo Crostini is here to answer all your burning questions about life in the nonprofit sector. Email him at [email protected] for advice and guidance.

giacomo.jpgDear Giacomo, 

Happy new year! I’ve just landed a new job at a nonprofit that I really love. I’m so excited! I’m also a little nervous about making a good first impression with my colleagues and supervisors. Any advice? 

Nervous, Excited, and Ready Dude

Dear NERD,

Alright! This is totally radical! As someone who has had new jobs no less than 27 times I know all too well the feelings you are having right now. What will your coworkers think of you? How awkward will you be and for how long? I once spent my entire first three days on the job with my fly down. So as you can gather I’m speaking from a place of extreme expertise and insight. My many experiences have led me time and time again to a few key pieces of advice that I’ve outlined here for you. If you follow these simple rules NERD, I can almost guarantee that you will make some sort of impression. What that impression winds up being depends entirely on you. 

Color Coordinate Your Clothing Based on Your Lunch Plans

dress.jpgI’m on the world wide web a lot. I consistently see other advice columns saying things like “Dress your best!” or “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have!” or “Stop buying hermit crabs, you are already at our building pet limit for crustaceans!” Well I’ve got a bit of a spin on this for you NERD. The first few weeks at the job probably means a lunch out with the team, maybe a welcome cake, or other get to know you activities with colleagues involving food. Do you want to be the guy who accidentally drips balsamic vinaigrette or cannoli down the front of his shirt? Well now you can be! Just make sure you stick to dark, earthy tones when making wardrobe selections. That way when the chicken parmesan falls off your fork no one will be the wiser. Packing the leftovers of your mom’s famous lasagna for yourself won’t be nearly as stressful when you’ve got on a shirt that matches the rich vibrant color of her legendary sauce! 

Be Memorable

memorable.jpgThe best way to make a good first impression is to make sure that no one can forget you, no matter how hard they might try. There are many great ways to do this! Here are a few tricks of the trade that have proven fruitful for me in new job situations: 

  • Offer to host a slip n slide party for the office! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - there is no such thing as a bad slip n slide party. Nothing breaks down social barriers like hosting a work party where swimsuits are the requisite dress code!
  • Give yourself a nickname! You need to stand out (in a good way) from others if you want to make sure you are on the fast track for a promotion. A hard to forget, cool nickname might just be the thing that sets you apart! Having trouble coming up with one? WikiHow has these helpful instructions.
  • I was going to offer more than this, but honestly if you have a cool nickname and host a slip n slide office party then you will absolutely  be the most memorable person in your organization. Ever.

Remember Everyone’s Names!

name.jpgLet’s face it NERD, you are going to meet a lot of people at this job; staff, board members, donors, vendors, and more! Not remembering a name is amateur hour, and you are no amatuer! If your memory can be a little spotty, like mine, then you need a system to remember everyone’s names. There is some simple and straightforward solutions to this (here and here) but there are other options as well. For instance, you could consider getting strategically placed tattoos of everyone’s names that you interact with on a regular basis (I recommend temporary tattoos). That way, when you see someone coming at you from down the hall you just have to casually roll up your sleeve and KAPOW, you can greet Judy with the confidence of an old friend. 

Guarantee a Good Hair Day

hair.jpgNo one likes a bad hair day, including your co-workers! Hit up a local blowdry bar or at least get a trim before punching the clock on your first day. Don’t skimp on some nice product for yourself either. Think of it as an investment in your career. This may seem superficial - but a recent study of local professionals that I conducted found that approximately 84 percent of all positive job performance reviews were the result of hard work with good hair as a key contributing factor. I think we can agree that those types of statistics speak for themselves.
I hope this helps! As always NERD there is a lot of great information and resources online about making a good first impression at your job. I’ve put a few links below in case you still find yourself looking for a bit more than what I’ve given you here. Good luck! I’m rooting for you! 

A few more articles:

Have a question for Giacomo Crostini? Email [email protected] or tweet it at @ynpntc and use the hashtag #deargiacomo.

Original artwork by Taylor Baldry

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