Your new job starts next week and you're eager to get off to a great start. You want to make a great first impression, get integrated into the new company's culture, and learn their way of doing business as efficiently as you can. And, of course, there's much more. Where to start? Here are a few ideas:

1. Get plenty of rest the week before. You are going to be processing a lot of new information next week. The more alert and ready you are for what comes at you, the faster and better you will learn what you need to learn to be successful. Plan your time before and after work carefully. Avoid over-scheduling, plan frequent breaks and map out essential errands like stocking the fridge and getting to the dry cleaner.

2. Bring a notebook. Preferably one with numbered pages. Put your name and other contact information prominently in the front. Leave the first few pages free for a table of contents. Write down everything you learn, notes to yourself, or things you want to remember. Keep good notes and review your notes at the end of each day. Carry it with you and don't be shy about taking notes wherever you can. A chance conversation can turn into a goldmine of information you'll want to write down. "Discreetly jot down the names you learn with a note that will help you remember the person's name," suggests Debbie Segnit, a Business Analyst at Chubb Insurance.

3. Hope for the best and be prepared for anything. Until you get to your new job, it may be hard to predict how well your new employer will be prepared for your arrival. The important thing is to take whatever comes at you with grace, good humor, and efficiency. Companies vary widely in the sophistication of their new-employee process. One thing's for certain, even if they do a bad job of bringing you on-board, you are responsible for your success. Your best interpersonal skills will be needed to get yourself settled in this new strange place.

4. Prepare a list of business questions to ask your boss, peers and subordinates. By asking the same questions, you will get a lot of information and start to understand everyone's perspective. These questions will evolve as you gain knowledge.

5. Bring a nametag you can put on your desk. This will help people get to know you faster and will help them recognize your name when they see you. Bring a few small things to put on your desk that could help people start a conversation with you on topics you are comfortable with.

6. It's never too early to do some "personal branding." Prepare a few talking points you want to have people know about you that you can weave into conversation with new co-workers. This can provide subtle support: imagine what a co-worker would say about you to another person that would help you be successful. Talking points are best stated positively and are work-related. A few examples: "fifteen years in the industry," "built a program like this at Acme from scratch," "Just out of grad school and knows the very latest design theory."

7. This is a chance to "reinvent" some aspect of yourself. Consider the following possibilities: stop using your maiden name, start using hyphenated last name, give up nick-name at work, change hair color or style, and upgrade your wardrobe.

8. Be flexible. This is not your old job and some of what worked there won't work here. Over prepare whenever you can. Try to meet with your boss at least once in the first week to start to understand their expectations.

9. Use the New guy/gal rule. "People will be more likely to help you in the beginning of your job than at any other time," advises Chris Lackey, a Sales Executive at Dimension Data. "Reach out to people with expertise when you are doing something for the first time and take good notes on what they tell you." Most people will be flattered to be asked. You will have a custom-made job aid to use for the next time and a new friend. Be generous with your thanks and cautious about making the same request for the same information.

10. Plan something with your family for next weekend. Remember, your family is going through a transition, too. Your first week at the new job will go better with something fun and relaxing to look forward to when this week is over.

11.Get a Coach! OK, I couldn't resist adding this one. Why a coach? The short answer is that especially for the critical first months at the beginning of a new assignment, a coach can be enormously helpful. A recent study showed that over 95% of coaching clients were very or extremely happy with the coaching experience.

"Time spent preparing for the first week in a new job is an excellent investment," says Donna Timpone of UserEdge Technical Personnel. "First impressions you make help build momentum and success."

Author's Bio: 

David O. Levine is an executive coach who works current and future leaders in the critical first months of a new assignment. He has over 20 years of experience, working with people to achieve their objectives.