Do First Impressions Still Count?
Gone are the days that the way you dress or greet a person helps to form a first impression. These days the odds are that your one shot of making that all important first impression have been shattered before you even walk through the door of a prospective new client or business colleague. How may you ask? No, it's got nothing to do with looking into a crystal ball or predicting the future but much more with how easy it is to type a person's name or company into a search engine.
The internet and search engines like Google and Yahoo have made it incredible easy to find instant information about people and a first impression about you gets formed by what the first two pages of Google hits turn up. Before you even walk through the door the person on the other side might know more about you than you think.
Consider how often you will access the internet to do a quick search before a meeting with a client or supplier? If you are doing it so are others. The truth of the matter is that for most corporate purchasing the salesperson role has become redundant as long as there is sufficient and relevant information on the website. It's much cheaper, faster and a lot easier to passively review information in the comfort of your own home without having to talk to an annoying sales person that only wants to make the sale.
There are 3 things to keep in mind as you embark on building a first-class online identity:
- The Internet is not a Masquerade Ball
The first thing to remember is that it's not just about playing a role, trying to pretend you are somebody you are not. Be yourself. Due to the nature of the internet it will become apparent rather quickly if you are not being true to yourself.
- Let Your Colours Show
This is also true for your online persona. The reality is people are complex with various interests and personalities. Don't try to hide that – be as colourful and interesting as always. The key thing to remember is to be sure you can say what you're about in one easy sentence and that others have a sense of what you represent without your help. Online identities should be available and sincere, but most of all, fascinating.
- Reveal Yourself Mr. 007
You may have chosen in the past to use pseudo names to protect your privacy but the reality is these days you want people to be able to find you. Unless you go around handing out business cards with your secret identity on you are not doing yourself any favours by using a pseudo name when blogging, taking part in forums or registering on social network sites. Building and managing a consistent online identity will help to project an image of an active, well-informed, progressive individual or organisation.
Whether dating, looking for a job or a client, if you do a good job developing and maintaining a good internet profile, you will have a chance to make a good second impression when you first meet the person.