First impressions can have a pretty big impact on what happens next – or doesn’t – in a relationship. When you contact a potential new client, what is the first thing they’re going to do after they get off the phone or back to their desk? They’re going to search your name and your agency name. What they find is that first digital impression.
What will your prospect learn about you?
Search yourself and search your agency. Look at it from an outsider’s perspective, someone seeing those results for the first time. What will they learn from the results of the search?
I see three likely scenarios based on how you participate in online activities. Take a look through these and see which one best describes your participation and subsequent search results.
- actively involved in your community or your industry
- have completed profiles and many connections
- a topical expert and participate in discussions and share relevant information
- generous with your knowledge and interested in helping others improve their businesses
You have profile accounts with virtually no information. Your LinkedIn profile or Twitter account was forgotten almost as soon as it was set up.
Either there are no search results for your name or maybe just an old outdated press release about your CIC designation.
Scenario #1 tells the prospect that you’re serious about your business, your career development is an important part of the business, and you are interested in and likely capable of helping the client with their business. And you believe the Internet offers powerful tools for conveying your message and conducting business.
With #3, it’s a mixed bag. There are many possible speculations about those without any results, but we can’t know for sure. A likely possibility is that you don’t believe in social networking as an effective tool for business development. And we don’t have anything to go off of in terms of rating you as a businessperson, so it’s all just unknown.
Now, #2. This is the most dangerous and damaging of the possible scenarios. You know what I mean – you created an account and didn’t finish completing the profile (no photo, no bio, only 3 connections, no experience or only the most recent listed, etc.) or you got really excited and started using it…then stopped. Like 6 months ago. We call these ghost town profiles that have obviously been abandoned. And what this tells that potential new client is that you don’t take Internet tools and networking opportunities seriously, you don’t follow through on what you start, and you leave half-finished projects just laying around.
Does #2 sound familiar? If so, then go fix it right now.
As you go through your search results, make a list of everything that you need to clean up, then go do it.
- I understand trying out a social site and realizing that it’s just not for you. When you get to that point, then make the commitment to that decision and close the account.
- If you have a Twitter account connected through your LinkedIn profile, but you don’t actually use Twitter, then go IMMEDIATELY and disconnect it. Professionals look at your LinkedIn profile – guaranteed. And a link to an account that never got started or was abandoned is BAD for your professional reputation.
- If you decide at some point that you want to come back, you can always set up an account at a later time.
Avoiding scenario #2 is definitely in your best interest. Cleaning it up will be time well invested in your personal and agency reputation.
While #3 is actually better than #2, understand that clients and prospects who are looking you up online must believe in the power of the Internet as a business tool. So if you are falling into either of these two scenarios, you’re already at a disadvantage with those prospects before you even get started.
Take control of that first impression and put your own positive message out there for people to find.
Photo by Bill Marrow.