2-½ minutes to read
You have seven seconds to make a good first impression. Of course this assumes the other person has never met you. But in these days of pervasive social media, it’s easy to know a lot about you. The people you’re meeting with about a job or business have checked you out on LinkedIn and Facebook. Before you cry Google-stalking, think about it. Prudent business dictates knowing about the people with whom you’ll work. In all likelihood you have given a first impression long before you meet someone in person.
A Less Than Stellar First Impression
Since your online persona will precede you, consider what shapes it. In a face-to-face meeting, most people want to appear humble. They don’t brag about themselves or their accomplishments. Often they take it too far. They avoid talking about their achievements. Instead they recite their skills. By what magic can the person intuit the great benefits such skills will deliver?
Yet these same people thing nothing of posting embarrassing pictures on Facebook. They use unprofessional headshots on LinkedIn. These pale compared to ranting on social media about things they dislike. They attack the beliefs and politics of anyone with whom they disagree.
Overly humble as they are in a meeting, modesty is thrown out the window online. Neither makes a good first impression.
Humility verses Modesty
The solution is simple. Ratchet up modesty, scale back false humility. Consider increasing your online decorum:
- Images. Before posting that hilarious picture, how funny will it be if a potential employer or client cites it as the reason for not hiring you or giving you their business? Is he really an old fogey or is it valid to question your maturity? People want to know you’ll exercise sound judgment.
- Complaints. Other than getting it off your chest, what good does complaining in public do? Are you going to start a mass movement? Will people spontaneously engage in a boycott? How do you like being publically humiliated? Leaders know to compliment in public and reprimand in private.
- Politics. What you post online may outlive you. When I searched my name I found my address from college. The World Wide Web was not launched until 10 years after I got my degree. Do you know for a fact that everyone who disagrees with your views is stupid, evil, or traitorous? Reasoned debate is one thing. Insults under the guise of honesty may cause you lifelong harm.
At the same time, humility need not prevent you from highlighting your accomplishments. Be:
- Truthful. Give the plain facts of what you’ve done. What does it mean that you’re effective or dynamic? Leave out the superlatives and adverbs.
- Specific. Are you very experienced? According to whom? If you’ve been in a field for 23-½ years people will figure out you’re experienced. Quantify your achievements. Now you can test whether the person perceives your value. If he doesn’t will you be able to meet your objectives working with him?
- Confident. Braggarts use lofty words and talk a lot. Speak succinctly. Know what you want to say. Look the other person in the eyes when you talk. Connect with him.
Be modest rather than humble. Make self-discipline and authenticity that builds relationships your goals. They will lead you to success.
Why do you have difficulty promoting yourself? Please comment below.