people shaking hands in the lobby of an office
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There’s so much to think about when you’re starting a new job. In fact, you’ve probably already made a list to help you make a great first impression at work and it might be looking a little long for your taste. But there’s one super easy and extremely important thing I’ll bet isn’t on there: Practicing your introductions.

That’s right. Introducing yourself may sound like something you’ve got down—you’ve been doing it for years, after all. But when it comes to those early intros to all your new co-workers, you probably want to have a plan. Because first-day you is going to be nervous enough without having to ad lib your way through these crucial meetings.

“The most important thing in a new job is to be able to introduce yourself. That initial intro really sticks with your co-workers,” says Muse Coach Eloise Eonnet. And you can’t necessarily expect them to make it easy for you. “People at the office don’t know how to make newcomers comfortable,” Eonnet says. So think about what it is you want to share with your new colleagues, “because if you don’t, no one knows what to ask you next.”

The most important thing in a new job is to be able to introduce yourself. That initial intro really sticks with your co-workers.

The good news is that you have so much more control than you think over how these initial conversations play out. And just a little bit of preparation here will go a long way. In other words, this might just be one the fastest but most impactful item to complete on that pre-job to-do list.

“What do you want to say about your previous experience, briefly?” Eonnet asks. What’s the first little story you want to tell about yourself that’ll not only help your co-workers get to know you, but also help you direct those first conversations to areas where you feel comfortable?

Maybe you want to say a thing or two about your previous role and company and mention that side hustle you’re passionate about. Or maybe you want to talk about where you grew up or the neighborhood you live in.

You should have some sense of the culture by now to gauge whether you should keep it strictly about your professional experience or mix in some fun personality. If you’re entering a very formal, corporate environment, you might want to stick with your past experience, what you’ll be doing at the new company, and what projects you’re especially excited to work on.

But if you’re heading into a more casual environment, you can probably also tell people about how you follow baseball religiously, make jewelry in your free time, or love to scout out the best ice cream in the city (and are happy to share your recommendations).

For example, if I could rewind back a few months and practice my intros for first conversations before I started my job at The Muse—a company I knew encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work—I might share that I was coming from Newsweek, where I was a staff writer covering everything from news to culture to science. I’d probably mention how excited I was to start at The Muse and dig into writing and editing stories about careers and the workplace. And maybe I’d throw in the fact that I’m a huge dance nerd who makes a habit of going to watch shows here in New York.

The most important thing is that you feel ready and comfortable sharing a few tidbits to get those first chats going. So spend a little bit of time thinking about what want to say and then actually practice with a friend or family member. It’ll be much easier than thinking up the right details on the spot when you’re already nervous.

Because besides making a stellar first impression on your new colleagues, you might just start the process of turning those co-workers into friends.