During one of my favorite podcasts, the host discussed how people don’t get a chance to make the first impression of themselves in person — in both sales and in dating. This is all increasingly done online, with the pandemic moving individuals to working remotely coupled with more accessibility to the internet. It’s becoming more and more common to look someone up online before meeting them. A recent study by the Science of Research showed that 95% of people believe first impressions are very important while 68% believe their first impression of someone is always accurate. So what does that mean if that impression occurs online where you may not be able to speak with them or explain what they are seeing?
In this day and age, it’s safe to say the majority of business professionals have a digital presence of some type. In fact, studies have shown first impressions take only a few seconds — so you need to make sure what you have out on the internet reflects who you want others to see. We all know that at one point or another you will be googled.
To help you make a good first digital impression, here are some items that will ensure what you have out on the internet represents you well.
- Professional Headshots. Personal branding is everything. You need to make sure your photos represent who you want them to see. Photos of you partying will not deliver a favorable first impression. Your headshot should look professional, and you should be the focus. Make sure your outfit is clean and appropriate, and that the picture focuses more on you and not the background.
- Social Media. In recent years, we have seen example after example of a friend or someone on the news posting the wrong thing — and costing them their business or their job. Remember social media is NOT private. What you post can be saved and shared, so make sure if you share items online you can defend that post five even 10 years down the line. Unprofessional items could include party pictures, drinking, using inappropriate language, or attending events that could be considered controversial. If you think you have items on your social media that you are not proud of, take the time now and go to those sites and clean it up.
- Your online Profile Name. Make sure that your online profile name is professional and has your name. Want to make a good first impression? Then avoid profile names such as @always_late or @lazy_girl.
- LinkedIn and other Professional Accounts. LinkedIn is the top website for professional networking, and potential clients may use this site to do homework on you. You want to make sure that what you have on this platform is professional and that what you post about your professional background is true and accurate. You don’t want to have that you were CEO of Walmart on you profile. You and your potential clients might even be connected to the same colleagues, so you want to make sure the information you have truly reflects you background and skills. Make sure your headshot is professional here, as well. One of the biggest mistakes with professional profiles is letting them get out of date. Make sure you are always updating your current employment status.
- Online Videos (Instagram and YouTube). Many people have taken to TikTok, Instagram or YouTube to post videos of their life. While most know to keep postings private, those shared publicly could lead to issues down the line. In Google, video results rank highest, so if you have a video out there with your name attached to it and someone googles you, chances are they will see that on the top of the search. Not only that, but videos that you have liked on platforms such as YouTube can be seen on these searches. On the flipside, being a great videographer can be an excellent way to build your personal and professional brand.
- Online Reviews and Comments. Thanks to websites like Yelp, the world is now very familiar with checking reviews. Sites like Google My Business and Facebook Pages allow anyone to leave online reviews for products and services. Even if you only have a personal brand, you should still be aware of what people are saying about you online. Ignoring people makes you appear insensitive. Reply to comments gracefully and acknowledge everyone who takes the time to interact with you.
Whew … that seems like a lot to review and update, but if you take this one step at a time and work on each of your social media platforms, you will be ready to go in no time. Need more help? Check out our training course “Your Professional Network: Promoting Your Personal Brand.” Or reach out to us. We would love to show you other videos and training tools that might help. And remember — it is never too late to make a first impression!
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