Whether you're just starting out in the world of work, or you're established in your career and starting a different role, a new job is certain to come with a lot of change. You’ll meet new people, and learn and adjust to a different office culture and procedures.

Sometimes this information overload, and the pressure of making a good first impression at your new place of work, can cause confidence to dip. So how can you sustain confidence, show up, and make the best start possible in a new role?

RADA Business tutor Imogen Butler-Cole offers advice for tackling nerves, connecting with colleagues, and making an impact.

It’s natural to be nervous

You’ve aced the interview and signed the contract, but as you prepare for your first day you may find yourself feeling nervous. The good news is that it’s completely normal. “Think of your nerves as excitement”, says Imogen. “Many of the symptoms that we get when we feel nervous are from adrenaline. Adrenaline can actually serve us: it gives us energy and focus."

The symptoms that we get from nerves – such as shallow breathing, butterflies, and stumbling over words – are the same symptoms as excitement. So instead of thinking of these physical reactions as nerves or fear, think of them as excitement instead, and know that the adrenaline is serving you. And by breathing low and slow, you can mitigate these symptoms.”

Don't be afraid to ask questions that show curiosity and dynamism.

Make connections

Once you begin your new role, it’s important to start getting to know your colleagues. Remember that not all conversations – even those online – must be formal. Scheduling an online coffee break with a colleague, to replicate those water-cooler conversations, is a good way to start.

“Ask for conversations with people”, says Imogen. “It might not be specifically related to the job. Don't be afraid to ask questions that show curiosity and dynamism. Ask people questions about themselves, their interests, and what motivates them within the work."

"Go in prepared with three to five questions that you think might connect you based on shared interests – it doesn’t just have to be about your working life. Once you have had these conversations, you're more likely to know who to go to when you need help."

Imogen also recommends setting yourself daily goals to get you talking to your colleagues. “It might be something as simple as setting a goal for how many people you would like to introduce yourself to today. And then once you've achieved it, you let yourself off the hook. So, if you've said that you want to speak to three people, speak to those three people, and you’ll feel a sense of achievement as well as building relationships with your colleagues.”

Showing willingness, seeing how you can get involved, and also offering your ideas about ways of working from your fresh perspective is a really good way to make your mark.

Making an impact

While settling into a new job, meeting new people, and learning about your colleagues, remember that you bring a fresh perspective. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas, whether at an in-person meeting or on a video call.

“Showing willingness, seeing how you can get involved, and also offering your ideas about ways of working from your fresh perspective is a really good way to make your mark”, says Imogen. “Whether you’ve come from a different company, or perhaps from studying, a career break, parental leave or travelling, asking questions and making suggestions can be a really good way to make an impact.”

Of course, not every idea will land, but the key, explains Imogen, is openness and honesty even when things go wrong. “Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Owning your mistakes – and you will make mistakes at first – helps us to learn and grow. So don't be afraid to lean into that habit; set an intention to own up to mistakes when they happen. That will demonstrate your confidence, and build honesty and trust.”

Visualise your success

Imogen recommends visualising your past successes before you start your first day, to build your confidence. “Imagine a gallery or a museum, emptied out of all its exhibits", explains Imogen. “Think about all the great moments that you've had in your life, and try to visualise those triumphs, successes, goals that you've achieved, great conversations you've had with people, even personal moments that you've shared with friends or family. Then, fill your museum or gallery with those moments. The more that you visualise this place, and the more that you see those moments, the more they will be at the forefront of your mind.”

We often tend to catastrophise and think about the times that we failed, especially when in a high-stakes situation such as starting a new job. Imogen says “You think: I won't be able to do it because I’ve failed or messed up before; it stays at the forefront of the mind. But if you're thinking about the positive achievements that you've made, you're more likely to feel more confident.”

As well as reflecting on your past successes, Imogen also suggests projecting a vision of your future. “Before you start your new job, imagine your best first day possible, including having the best conversations possible, and achieving the best results possible. What does it look like when you're having these brilliant conversations? How does it make you feel? Feel those feelings in your body. Build up an image of yourself, so that you can step into this projected version of yourself when you start your first day. You’ll find that you’re more resourced and equipped to turn up and be in that mindset.”