We all know how important the first impression can be. It’s even been said that we form an opinion of others in just a few seconds. While that first face-to-face meeting is still important (make eye contact, firm handshake, dress the part, all that good stuff), it is rarely our true first impression any longer.
Ask yourself, what do you think is the first thing that prospect does when considering taking a meeting with you? Probably the same thing you do when you want to learn more about someone; you turn to the Internet. Nowadays, before taking a first meeting with anyone, we tend to go through the ritual of searching their name on Google, seeing what they Tweet about, reviewing their profile on LinkedIn, and reading what they have blogged about.

Your online presence is your new first impression. Whatever your prospect learns through what they find (or don’t find) about you online is now the first impression they are going to have of you. So, when you and the competition show up for that “first meeting”, it is no longer an even start, someone has already created an advantage by what they have communicated through their online presence. Will that be you or your competition? This really is an opportunity for you to create a competitive advantage.

First, take a little time to define your personal brand. In other words, what are the clear, powerful, positive thoughts you want your audience to have when they think about you? What do you want them to know about you and why they should work with you? What is it that makes you different from your competition? What is your unique value proposition?

Next, develop a strategy to start communicating that brand online through your blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, white papers, etc. Make sure what your audience finds when they look for you online makes, and reinforces, your desired first impression.

It won’t happen overnight, but you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can elevate your online presence and start separating yourself from your competition.

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