Our digital footprint primarily concerns the way we present ourselves on the Internet.
There are many occasions when we ‘meet’ people online first, long before we actually talk to them in person. It’s likely if you set up an important meeting with someone professionally, that before you go and see them you will check them out online and they will do the same thing.
What’s then uncovered will be yours and their first ‘virtual’ impressions. Have a look online now, what comes up first if you Google your own name, what do you think, does it accurately represent who you are and your purpose in life?
We tend to mostly think about Social Media when it comes to online. It has proved to be an incredible way for anyone to communicate his or her message to the world with extreme ease of access. You can be an expert in the most obscure thing now and find yourself an audience and even fan base.
As much as the Internet can give, it can also take away, so beware of your online/digital reputation and the professional imprint it is leaving behind with people.
What many deemed as private information years ago is now readily public for the world to see. You could run a search on someone you met yesterday and within a few minutes very realistically, know their address, the names of their parents and children, where they went on holiday last year, when they are going this year, if they are in a relationship, if they have pets, what they like to do to socialise.
The list goes on doesn’t it, and it can be quite scary if you sit back and think about it. What impression will or could someone build of you with all this information to hand. Will it shape what they think of you or their future interactions with you?
Your online digital reputation can define how people perceive you without them even meeting you once or even having a conversation with you. Most of us have heard of cat phishing and the fact is that online personas or reputations can easily be incorrect or only partially true.
The fact is though, that based on these ‘reputations’ people will decide, whether they want to have a conversation with you, meet you, and even do business with you. It is so important that we are mindful of what we decide to make readily available to everyone online, because like it or not, we are saying, this is us.
You’ve got two of those and one of those, use them to that effect, is a line I used to be told by one of my managers in sales when I was young (referring to your ears and mouth clearly) and he was right.
When we think of communication, often we think about how we speak to someone and words we use, but in reality, one of the most important factors when it comes to communication is LISTENING.
However as first impressions go it is important that we get over the first hurdle of effectively starting a conversation, which can be tricky at times depending on where you are and why you are there. Your opening line is extremely important, but you should also have a plan of gracefully exit a conversation too.
Your voice is a very powerful tool our volume, tone, pitch and speed of voice can completely change a message and our energy in these areas really defines who we are at that given moment.
People funnel a lot of information about us through what our speaking voice sounds like to them. What we say, how we say it and our perceived listening abilities should set an example. It should confirm to our clients, colleagues, new acquaintances or audience members what exactly has been decided in those first seven seconds. It should confirm that you are exactly who or what they need at the moment and ultimately a winner, whether that’s in person or online.
It’s the sum total of our actions, our attitude and ho we treat ourselves and others in a given situation.
If we’ve taken the time to get our appearance in order, we then need to back it up with the way we behave and express ourselves. Only we can ultimately choose to be happy, positive and optimistic or pessimistic, negative and critical in our daily lives.
Professionally this would be our business etiquette which is a sign of our professionalism and respect for others within the workplace. In terms of first impressions this goes a long way towards building trust and mutual respect.
Business etiquette provides a framework within which the people within your business can operate as the collaborate, communicate and socialise with one another. With this in mind it is important to be the person that you would want to deal with yourself.
Our manners, the way we look, listen, move and react goes a long way to showing people if we care or not. Body language is such a powerful tool that allows us to connect, express ourselves effectively and start to build strong relationships.
When communicating with others we are constantly giving off and receiving wordless signals. Our micro expressions, the use of our hands, where we are looking, the direction our feet are pointing in when we are talking to someone, all of this can send messages to others and most of the time we can be completely unaware of it.
Every visual element that can be seen within the first few seconds of someone meeting you. Your facial features, grooming, clothing, accessories and hair, nails and much more.
There are so many situations in life where you only have ONE chance to impress someone. It could be a potential client, an interviewer, someone clicking on to one of your online videos for the first time or if you are single and looking a potential partner. It’s important you ensure that you create the best first impression, it’s all in the preparation.
Guess what, before you even say a word, the other person is judging you and deciding a number of things to themselves. Two of these are; do you take care of yourself and have you dressed appropriately (in fact there are up to 12 factors people evaluate within 7 seconds of meeting someone; click here).
After this something called Confirmation Bias will kick in which is our tendency to search for, interpret, favour and recall information in a way that confirms our pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses (our first impression).
If you show up without much consideration for the way you have dressed, the chances are, the person we are addressing is going to apply that perception elsewhere. So, the fact that your shoes are polished or are a bit to well worn could result in that person thinking your working style is shoddy and you don’t pay a lot of attention to detail.
Our appearance is non-verbal communication and sometimes it is what speaks most loudly.