In this ‘onlinified’ and digitalised world first impressions and perceptions are less and less likely to be formed in a traditional face-to-face meeting. Instead, they are delivered via a search result in Google or a LinkedIn profile search. And these first digital impressions can last forever. That’s why it’s so important to treat your online identity with the utmost care.
Before ever connecting with you or your company in the ‘real world’, people are using online to get to know you, and they’re making decisions about you based on what they see and how alike you seem to be to them and their expectations.
At the same time, many professionals and companies still treat their online identity and way of working with digital as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’. The implications of ignoring the wished for perceptions of you, and your brand is vast. You may be sending the wrong message, and therefore making it hard to build an authentic relationship in the future. Additionally, you most likely miss out on lots of opportunities that you’re not even aware of.
You might not know who is researching you, then deciding not to contact you for a job or other opportunity because of their first virtual impression. We know that first impressions are critical, and they are hard to change. They are so powerful that after we learn more information about someone we’ve just met, we work to try to make the information align with what we discerned from our first impression.
This phenomenon is called anchoring or focalism. Defined by Wikipedia as ‘a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions.’ This is why it’s essential that you make sure the ‘bits and bytes’ version of you is consistent with the ‘flesh and bones’ you. That is, if you want to successfully connect with others and maximise business opportunities and relations in the ‘onlinified’ and digitalised world we now live in.
So do you treat your online identity with the care it deserves or do you treat as a ‘nice to have’?