If there’s one thing the coronavirus pandemic taught us, it’s that digital is the way business is done and it’s here to stay. We know that most employees want the option of remaining remote even post pandemic. A Robert Half study found that one in three remote workers could quit their jobs if they’re required to return to the office full time.
Clearly, working remotely presents many opportunities and benefits. It also presents some challenges. Top among them: How do you make a memorable first impression in the two-dimensional online world? While it’s true that your online brand will never be as visceral and engaging as the in-person YOU, there are things you can do to create a meaningful connection in the virtual world. To do so, focus on these three actions.
1. Get your Google house in order.
When people want to learn about you, they’ll likely enter your name in Google and see what comes up. According to Intergrowth, 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engine results. And that’s good news. It means you need only focus on about ten results to deliver your first impression. So egosurf (that’s what it’s called when you google yourself) and ask yourself this question: If someone were looking at these page 1 results, what would they think about me? If your answer is different from who you really are and how you want to be known, make an effort to align those results with your authentic personal brand.
2. Use LinkedIn to mesmerize.
When people are checking you out in a professional capacity, they might skip Google and go directly to LinkedIn. After all, it’s the place where professionals tell their story—the world’s largest ongoing networking event. And LinkedIn is replete with profile features for being able to introduce yourself and tell that story in a rich and engaging way. The three elements of your profile that are key to producing a fascinating first impression are your Headline, Headshot and About.
- Headline: Your headline shows that you’re relevant. It lets people know what you do. Well-written headlines also share something more, like how you do what you do or what happens when you do what you do. Use all 200 characters to set the scene.
- Headshot: Your headshot shows that you’re real. It makes you more approachable and allows people to connect with you. It’s an especially important part of your profile when you can’t connect with people in person. LinkedIn research shows that just having a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others.
- About: Your About shows that you’re both credible and likable. For most professionals, it will be the most influential version of their bio. A mesmerizing About starts with an intriguing statement to attract attention and then weaves together your human characteristics—values, passions, credentials and accolades, all selected to show how your accomplishments differentiate you. This alchemy delivers an authentic and interesting 3D narrative that makes people want to know more about you.
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3. Leverage the closest thing to being there: Video.
Google results and a written bio (or LinkedIn About) can only go so far in building an emotional connection. To truly impact your audience, use video. A complete communication includes words, body language and tone of voice—all of which are part of a video. The best ways to use video:
Tell your LinkedIn cover story. This is a brief (30 seconds or so) clip that sits behind your headshot, allowing you to introduce yourself in a much more dynamic and engaging way than you can with just words. This new feature is just rolling out now, so be on the lookout for it and create your cover story as soon as it becomes available.
Create thought-leadership videos. To demonstrate your expertise while expressing your point of view, share your valuable insights in brief 1-3-minute videos. This not only gives viewers the opportunity to see you, it helps you demonstrate your perspective on what’s important to you. Post your videos to YouTube. When you do, it will increase the likelihood that they’ll show up on the first page of Google results when people search on your name (making those results more interesting). You can also add these videos to your LinkedIn Featured section—turning your word-laden profile into a multi-media portfolio.
Make your mark in meetings. Sometimes your first impression is not your LinkedIn profile or the results of a Google search on your name. You can make a first impression in an online video meeting too. That means you need to master this pervasive medium and avoid these major mistakes. When you have a background that’s not distracting, your shot frames your face correctly, you’re looking at the camera and your audio is crisp, clear and free from ambient noise, you have the conditions that will allow you to make a major impact on those who are meeting you for the first time through pixels.
Remember, digital precedes real. Your first impression will be formed online, so make an effort to ensure that when people meet you in the virtual world, you’re as close to the real you as possible.