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Your Digital First Impression. What Does It Say and Why Does It Matter?

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Your Digital First Impression. What Does It Say and Why Does It Matter?

I recently worked with a client who excitedly told me all about her new business. She had a really clear vision and could easily articulate how her services would help her clients. Based on what she was telling me, it certainly sounded like she was on the right track.  However, one quick Google search of her business, and I got a totally different story.

What I found was vastly different from the initial positive impression I’d gotten from this business owner. Her digital footprint (what I’d found online) didn’t match her or her business in person.

In his book, “Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It”, Mitch Joel first introduced the concept of ‘digital first’. This concept suggests that the first place we learn about most people and businesses is online. The reality is there are numerous opportunities you could be missing out on if you are not managing your digital first impression.

These days, Google is the modern day yellow pages. People can easily find you online and make decisions based on what they read.  This means that no matter what industry you’re in, in today’s digital first world you need to be aware that before someone engages with you, they have probably already Googled you. And reviewed the online results.

It’s a bit like when you’re buying a house. The online advertisement may look amazing, but when you get there it is nothing like you expected. It is inconsistent with what you had in mind, or how you had imagined it. What was online didn’t match the real-life experience.

Here are my top tips for managing your personal brand in a digital first world:

Tip 1: Be Informed

Know what your online footprint looks like, and stay informed of when it changes. By being aware of change you can assess and action as required. A quick way to stay informed is to regularly Google search your name and see what comes up.    

  • Top Tip: Consider setting up a Google Alert for your name. A Google Alert will notify you of any postings online of your name (or whichever term you use). You can also manage settings on social media, so that you can approve ‘tags’ of your name by others.

Tip 2: Be Critical

Google search results are potentially the first place people find information on you. And they make decisions based on what they are reading. This means if people don’t like what they read, they can just move on. LinkedIn Insights reported that the initial LinkedIn screen is sometimes less than six seconds. Meaning you don’t have long to make an impact.

  • Top Tip: Assess whether what comes up in Google search results is consistent with what you want to be known for?

Tip 3: Be in Charge

Controlling your digital first impression means you are managing your digital footprint. Peter Drucker was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author who once said that “the best way to predicate the future is to create it”, and that is certainly true with your digital first impression. The best way to have a strong digital first impression is to create it.

  • Top Tip: Develop a plan to support the establishment (and subsequent maintenance) of your digital footprint. This might include a personally-branded website, LinkedIn profile, or branded.me or about.me page.

By being more aware of her digital, online footprint, understanding the impact, and making some relevant changes, my client was in a better position to ensure her online presence matched her in person, including her business goals.

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