When it comes to making new business connections, you know that first impressions can be make or break moments. But do you know that these moments are now happening online? Like it or not, your online presence is your new first impression.
That first face-to-face meeting is still important, and you should still do all those things your mom always told you to: make eye contact, have a firm handshake, and dress the part. But you also need to realize that the person shaking your hand has probably already Googled you.
That’s just how it is
When you’re thinking about making a purchase or finding a new service provider, what’s the first thing you do? Go online, of course. You search profiles and websites and consult with your networks. Meanwhile, your business associates, clients, and prospects are doing the exact same thing to you.
Chances are very good you’ve already been searched. Your articles, posts, and comments have been read. Your photos have been looked at. Whatever your prospects see and learn through their online research is now the first impression they will bring with them to your initial email, conversation, or meeting. It could also be the reason they decide not to meet with you.
If this thought makes you shudder, you may have some work to do when it comes to your professional image.
No one is safe
If you’re one of those people who hates and/or refuses to use social media, you might be feeling pretty good right now. You’ve put nothing out there, so your first impression is pure.
This is where the bad new comes in. If you don’t have an online presence, your potential clients can’t find you, and they won’t have a compelling reason to meet or do business with you. You may be clean, but you’re also invisible.
Meanwhile, these things could be giving someone else a huge advantage:
- Their company has an awesome website and blog.
- They have been out on LinkedIn and other platforms sharing thought provoking content and ideas.
- Your prospect already feels a connection with this person, even though they’ve never actually met. And it’s not because they know nothing about them. It’s because they know something about them. And they are intrigued.
Avoiding social media doesn’t give you an advantage in today’s business world. In fact, it can put you at a disadvantage. And using it wisely can give you an edge. The key word here is wisely.
How to invest in your online first impression
Here are two ways to get started down the right path:
1.) Define your message
What thoughts and feelings do you want people to have when they think about you? What do you want them to know about you, your organization, and why they should work with you? What skills do you have? What things do you care about? What is it that makes you different from your competition?
2.) Get out there
Once you’ve figured out what you want to share, be confident in putting yourself out there. And don’t worry! You don’t need to be everywhere. Research platforms to find out where your target market is. Then, choose one or two that are most relevant and start interacting. Follow people who are talking about the same things your customers are and get your message across in an interesting and professional way.
It won’t happen overnight, but you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can elevate your online presence and start separating yourself from your competition.
Just make sure everything your audience finds when searching online matches your desired first impression. Because in the end, that’s exactly what it is.
Looking to enhance your employee benefits package? Want to be a coveted employer of choice in the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area? Get in touch with Raffa. We love this stuff! And it’s what we do for our clients every single day.
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