January and February can be very stressful months for a lot of people. In January, many companies go through their introduction and training periods, and in February, university freshmen experience orientation. For both groups, meeting new people and making the right impression can cause a lot of anxiety. After all, these are the people you'll be spending a lot of time with in the future, and you don't want to get off on the wrong foot.
So how to make a memorable impression during these trying times? Communication Clinic president Kong Mun-seon advises coming up with a self-branding strategy. "Think up a slogan that best describes who you really are," he said. Then employ the brand strategy every chance you get, and be consistent.
Lee Jin, an employee who joined SK Communications in December, mastered the art of self-branding. During an internship interview, he drew a large, red "S" on a piece of paper which he hung from his neck. When his interviewers asked about the letter, Lee replied that should he get the position, he was prepared to work like Superman. "I thought it would be an easy and impressive way to get people to remember me by using that association with a character everybody knows," he said.
According to Choi Jong-seon, author of the book "The Power of Humor" and a manager of advertising company Adline, efforts like Lee's can be dangerous. "Humor is a sure way to leave a memorable first impression, but there is a very good chance that it can backfire, too." His advice is to relax and don't feel pressured to try to make everyone laugh. "There are a lot of creative ways to give others a strong impression of yourself," he said.
He cited the story of one young man who introduced himself at his freshmen ceremony by saying that he could neither sing nor make people laugh, but he did have an extraordinary skill that he wanted to demonstrate. "Then he did 100 push-ups on the spot, which made everybody burst into applause," he said.
In another memorable case, a seminary college freshman impressed his fellow students by singing a unique rendition of the song "Honey" by Park Jin-young. The young man made sure everybody would remember him by replacing the word "honey" with "Jesus."
But new employees need to be more careful than students. Trying too hard to stand out can instead make a worker appear thoughtless and crude. More effective is to use jokes related to the company you will work for. For example, if your new company makes insecticides, jokes about insects would be appropriate. And remember, if you do intend to show off your singing or dancing talent, you need to practice beforehand. You should either do very well or very badly -- a mediocre performance is no fun for anyone.
If you don't have the confidence to perform, try visual materials. Draw up a letter of introduction for yourself complete with photographs documenting your life's journey. Then pass them out silently and seriously. People will get to know you right away, and you will have total control over what they learn about you.
New workers need to promote themselves throughout their probation period, even after the bell has rung. Communication Clinic's Kong has some advice for those all-important after-work gatherings. "Sitting silently in the corner or acting like a fool are two great ways to make a bad impression," he said. "Instead, try talking to some colleagues about their work, or ask for some advice. People are eager to talk to workers who seem passionate about learning."
Last but not least, it is important to be polite to your senior colleagues. "New workers who don't show the proper respect for seniors can become a pain, no matter how creative and able they might be," Kong said.