Your first impression counts – and it starts online

Be aware of your presence in social media as that is often the first impression you will make on others.
Be aware of your presence in social media as that is often the first impression you will make on others.
Good Work - Lisa Cefali
Good Work – Lisa Cefali

“You only have one chance to make a first impression” is a saying that everyone has heard. Yet, we now know that a first impression may not be the one you traditionally thought it was.
The reality is, with technology and social media, you now have more than one chance to make a first impression. This could work very favourably for you or it could be to your detriment.
Let’s say you walk into an initial meeting, suit pressed, coordinated in every way, all files intact, and your presentation is in order. You have prepared your approach, your script is rehearsed, you have anticipated questions and have prepared corresponding answers.
Let’s say you walk into an interview – same scenario of preparedness. You think you have this first impression nailed, but do you? When you finally meet someone face-to-face, is this really their first impression of you?
Should you care about the many impressions that are out there? Yes! You want to make every impression a good one and yet you can’t necessarily predict when the first impression will really occur.
Whether you are a tech-savvy millennial or a seasoned professional, your online presence is critical to consider. Work on these elements when crafting a positive first impression:
Your photo – with the wonder of the Internet, your name can be inserted into a search engine and low and behold, a potential image of you may just show up. Often, it is your image that is tied to your LinkedIn business network profile. So how does it look?
Is it a professional head shot that you have chosen? Or is it instead a photo of you and your family; or yourself in a seductive, hair-blowing shot; or in a social setting, drink in hand, friends at your side, leaving the viewer with more questions than confirmation?
If a potential employer (or supplier, employee or client) sees this, will it leave them with the best first impression?
Your best course of action is either a professional head shot or for you to have someone take a photo of you that reflects your business persona. This is not the place to have social photos present!
Your LinkedIn profile – So, you manage to connect with a key individual. Your profile is read. What is the conclusion they make? Make sure your profile is a complete representation of who you are and what you want readers to know about you.
If you are not willing to put in the time to create a proper profile, why bother? Would you walk into a business meeting half-dressed? Of course not, so why would you allow the first impression of your profile to be “half-dressed?” You are better off spending the time to present a complete, well-put-together profile or nothing at all.
Your Facebook profile – Consider how many photos you have that may be misinterpreted. Consider any posts that you made, or images you have re-posted, shared or commented upon. What impression will these give off?
These are all reflections of who you are or how you may be perceived to be. Is this the impression you wish to present?
If you have shared an opinion that could be misinterpreted, either lock down your settings or remove it – your choice – but remember, if it’s out there online, it can be found.
With the number of Facebook accounts that exist in any office, it is very likely that someone is connected to someone who is connected to you. The same rules apply to other social media platforms as well. What have you tweeted or re-tweeted, pinned, blogged, or uploaded onto Instagram that is now a reflection of you?
What can someone interpret (or misinterpret) about you?
Technology now allows everyone to be a producer, a journalist and a self-professed author of their own lives and the world around them. Whether online or face-to-face, your first impression counts.
Unfortunately, what you think may be a first impression could be the third or fourth impression based on what was already uncovered. Do your own critical assessment of how you come across online. Make sure you leave a positive first impression and not a negative one that becomes your last.
Lisa Cefali is the Vice President of Executive Search with Legacy Bowes where she uses her many years of Competitive Intelligence, Recruitment and Assessment of Emotional Intelligence experience to uncover those attributes that provide for the best organizational fit for her candidates and clients. Please feel free to contact her at lisa@legacybowes.com for your Executive Search needs or to book an interactive, team-building session on “How to Work a Room.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s