I remember being told: “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” So I was mindful to always stand up straight, look people in the eye, have a firm handshake, speak clearly, and listen intently. I made mental notes of people who made good first impressions, and mimicked their behaviour later, whether it was the phrases they used, the compliments they gave people, or even how they entered a room. Confidence is an attitude that you have to work at but it is noticeable and helps with making a good first impression. However, it is quite possible that your best efforts to make a good first impression could be stymied by your digital footprint.
I recently observed that first impressions are no longer the face-to-face introductions with people we know little or nothing about, rather, they are with a person’s social media profile. This trend seems to be the norm, once you learn the name of a person you are going to meet or be working with, it is acceptable, or expected that you look them up online to get a better idea of who they are and how best to relate with them in person. I had experienced this a few months ago, meeting someone for the first time they had already knew some key points about me, where I worked, where I went to school, what I studied, it wasn’t anything too private but I was a bit surprised with how casual they were with admitting they had ‘creeped’ my Facebook.
With some very informal research, I learned that ‘creeping’ is socially and professionally acceptable within reason. Today it is common knowledge that we manage what we post online, but people interpret things differently, and netiquette dictates we respect privacy and reserve judgement. These rules are different when it comes to an organization, business, or corporation because of user review websites and social media posts evaluating or criticizing a brand or product.
Not every relationship will be formed face-to-face, many will be formed via the Internet. The trouble with this process is that the first impression of your company or brand is susceptible to influences beyond your control. People rely on online reviews when purchasing goods or services, they want information that will help them feel confident that they are making a well-researched decision.
For companies with an online presence, reputation management has become a necessary part of protecting their brand and influence. A bad first impression can cause bias, forcing people to focus on that small amount of information and judge subsequent interactions.
With the growing trend of researching companies online, we are observing that people are beginning to review other people the way they would other goods or services. Whether it is with recommendations, references or interactions on social media, these behaviours online are making up an individual’s personal brand, and contributing to their network or employer’s brand.
This trend will change social media monitoring and listening software. For Orenda, it means more testing with IBM Watson Personality Insights, and a lot more research. We are working on some exciting things we hope will change how we interact and network with new businesses and people.