New on the job? Start building credibility now

publication date: May 15, 2013
author/source: Janet Gadeski

Starting in a new workplace isn’t easy. You walk in the door an unknown quantity. Your new colleagues hope you can deliver but they haven’t seen evidence yet. Proving your reliability and expertise before campaigning for new ideas will help people to take your suggestions more seriously when you do speak up. Here are a few tips to help you build credibility quickly.

Social media skills don’t make you an expert

Yes, you can tweet, post, pin and share all before you finish your morning coffee. But that just means you’re well-informed about the latest social media, not about the charity where you work or the nonprofit sector. Make a point of learning about your organization and the sector from more experienced staff members.

If you think your tech skills could enhance your charity’s communications or fundraising, back up your ideas with facts, examples, a cost/benefits analysis and a sustainability plan.

Pay attention to details

If you’re drafting something for approval, check the facts. If you’re setting up someone else’s presentation, think it through from the presenter’s viewpoint. What would the presenter want to know about the room, the audience? What might go wrong, and how can you forestall that? What will make it easier for the speaker?

You’ll build trust and stand out as someone who would prepare equally carefully for their own reports and presentations. When bigger opportunities arise, you’ll likely be considered.

Read, read, read

You’ll be making a lot of small talk with colleagues, donors, prospects and volunteers. Have something substantial to say about likely topics of discussion: current affairs, cultural events, sports or social trends. Make sure that one of the books you read is a grammar book. The more correctly and effectively you express yourself, the more opportunities you’ll have.

Be a student

Learn wherever you can in your organization. Listen to conversations, read the things you’re asked to fax or photocopy (and be sensitive to confidential material), ask questions unless it’s inappropriate. Find a job that offers you a variety of tasks so that you don’t get stereotyped too narrowly early in your career.

Ask for help

Ask for advice when you need it, and look for mentoring relationships, either formal or informal. Make networking a priority. Meet your organization’s stakeholders, join professional associations and attend their events, and go to conferences. At events and conferences, avoid eating alone or ordering from room service. Even the meals offer the possibility of fruitful relationships.

This article is adapted from a post by Jessica Levco on

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