Isn't it true that you never get a second chance for a first impression? Well...not anymore! That's right my friend, this classic saying is now as worthless as the paperweight it is printed on.
In college, I worked as an intern for one of the largest recruiting firms in the country. Candidate's chances of getting an interview relied on the words printed on a single sheet of paper or if they were lucky an employee or previous hire referral. The web and social media was never considered because it was 2006 for goodness sake. That's hundreds of years ago in Internet time. 99% of the candidate's first impression was riding on the live face-to-face interview.
Today, recruiters are leveraging LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Identified.com and Klout to make a pre-impression before they ever consider the candidate for a first impression.
“Never get a second chance for a first impression” should now be replaced by “Never get a first impression without a solid pre-impression.” Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if the pre-impression happens first than it is now the first impression" - good thought but work with me :)
The aspects that made a solid first impression - appearance, manners and the firm, credibility-boosting handshake - are now happening online. Constant clammy hand people rejoice! Pre-impressions are what recruiters, online daters and digital natives are instantly forming to qualify if a first impression is worth the time and energy.
Most of my business introductions now happen via LinkedIn which makes it easy for me to instantly view their profile, website and all social media platforms to gain context around the individual and form an impression. If you are nonexistent online, that communicates the wrong thing. If nothing comes up on a quick Google search, I question if you are still alive or if you've left the darkness of your basement in the last few years. And if you only have 132 LinkedIn connections, I'm going to assume you are a farmer because that is simply unacceptable for anyone in business today.
While attending conferences, classes or church we still experience true first impressions when we meet people face-to-face for the first time. Face-to-face communication skills are still uber crucial today. But if you happen to botch a crucial first impression with a front-and-center coffee stain on your shirt, today's social web provides you with the once non-existent second chance needed to redeem yourself.
Social media provides the means to easily connect again for that second chance. And your online presence (aka personal brand) gives you the second chance to show the other person what value you bring, who you really are and what you are truly capable of.
Creating solid context online (via blogs, social media, websites, etc.) will help strengthen your rapport offline. Supplement your genuine smile, kick-ass personality and epic leadership with a strong online presence and kiss unimpressive first impressions good-bye.
Question: How do you form your impression of people in today's digital age?