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Dear Heidi: I just started a new job. What’s the best way to stand out as a new, young leader?

You have 90 days to make your first impression. Here's how you do it.

You've heard it before; you have seven seconds to make a great first impression, right?

Well, in 2006, researchers at Princeton found that our trustworthiness can be determined in 100 milliseconds by someone merely looking at your face for the first time. It's interesting to note that the longer they look, the more confident the person is in their judgment of you.

It's so fascinating to me that I wrote a blog about the importance of image and first impressions, called, "Is Image Important?"

Making a good first impression at a new job is similar, but this arena is a little more forgiving. Here, you have 90 days to make your impression. Michael D. Wakins writes in his book, The First 90 Days, that your performance in the first three months of a new position dictates if you succeed or fail. No pressure.

So, how are you going to make the most of your first 90 days?

Here are the top five tips to ensure you stand out as an emerging leader, so on day-91, you're already soaring.

Make a Plan

Before you set foot or virtual image in your new position, do some planning and a little research. Learn the company culture and how you can complement it. What is the expected dress code, are work hours flexible or more rigid, and what are the preferred communication channels? Practice introducing yourself. Research and develop your plan, realizing it's dynamic before day one so you can start ahead of the game.

Day One

Arrive early, appropriately dressed, prepared, and mind your manners. Engage your Executive Presence (to learn more, kindly read my article in Medium's Management Matters) and introduce yourself confidently to everyone you meet with equal respect. Follow up with a quick ping, especially to team members, to reintroduce yourself and offer your contact information.

Own Your Purpose

Ask yourself what it is about you that landed you this job? In other words, why you? You either have the desired skill that can fill a void, or you have the potential to, and you will add value to the company. Own this and more. If you need to add skills, do so. Look around and see where you can be an asset beyond expectations.

Clean Slate Advantage

Because you are new in the position, be your most curious and ask questions. The clean slate is unique to you for a short time, so take advantage of that. You may be able to ask a question that a seasoned employee would not think to ask, would feel awkward asking, or doesn't have the guts to ask. You have the new person advantage, so, as Simon Sinek wrote, "start with why." You may be amazed by what you and those around you will learn.

Set Goals and Grab the Low Hanging Fruit

You planned for this, so set some goals. What do you want to accomplish in the first 30-60-90 days? Measure your progress; how are you doing? Evaluate, and re-evaluate your process and make adjustments where needed. Ask for feedback, or better yet, ask your manager for advice—how can you keep improving? Be sure to set some easily attainable goals and relish in some small victories along the way.


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