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How to Make a Great First Impression

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Two hands shaking- First impression

Posted on 02/10/2020 at 09:00 AM

First Impressions are Golden

What is the key to a killer first impression, personally and professionally? The answer may surprise you! We all want to be remembered. We want to feel, on a personal level, like we have left a positive lasting impression on those we interact with. In the professional world, we all equally vie for the currency that is attention. With so much competition, how do you stand out?

It all comes down to one thing: Branding.

What do you want to be known and remembered for? How do you want others to talk about you? Your answers reflect your personal Brand. Humans want to control everything and find the most stress when we feel something is beyond our control. We want to control how people see us in our personal lives, and professionally, it is not that different.  

Your Digital Impression

Your website is like your online business card, recruiting station, sales tool, the face of your brand and portfolio all rolled into one.

For these reasons and more, Google (and other search engines) put a big emphasis on bounce-rate. If you can’t keep people on your website for more than three seconds, Google doesn’t want to send people to it.

If you want to keep people on your website, you need to leave a lasting impression within the first few moments a person is on it.

Ask yourself the following questions when considering your overall web design:

What does my audience want to see?

This is not about what you would want to see or what you want your audience to say. It is all about understanding what brought them to your website in the first place. A quick search of Google Analytics can tell you how people got to your site and where most of your audience spends their time. These are the pages that people find value in and should have some representation on your homepage, if they don’t already!

What is the ultimate goal of my website and why does it really exist?

Websites exist for many reasons. Some companies have a website just because they think that a website is a “necessary evil” to stay competitive (they’re not entirely wrong).

Does your website exist as a sales funnel?

Are you trying to provide information or service through the website?

Do your goals align with how your website is set up?

What you should be asking yourself is…

What value does my website provide?

If you don’t provide value, people won’t stick around. Value can be defined as expertise, influence, information, entertainment, or any number of other things. Value means many things to many people, but there should be some commonality among your audience as to what they find valuable about your website.

The more valuable a person finds your website, the more likely to return and to tell others about it!

Is my website easy to navigate?

People follow the path of least resistance. If it is hard to find what people are looking for, they will look elsewhere. Here are a few tips to reduce resistance:

Your website should reflect your company. By the time a visitor is ready to leave your website, they should have a good feel for the value your company provides, how to get what they need from you, and why they should come back.

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Your Social Impression

Social media strategy is all about being social. Each social platform has different cultural expectations and rules of etiquette to follow. Understanding where your target audience is and how to interact with them properly across various social channels can be the difference between success and laughable failure.

Balancing the tightrope of consistent branding and tone across all social platforms can be tricky to the untrained, but it is possible. The important thing to remember is that the answer is almost always the same: more content!

Defining Content

Content doesn’t have to be a sweet new video or a long post every day. Anything you put online is content. Every time you answer a message, tweet, comment, like someone else’s post (audience or other brands), or post a picture, video, or story, you are creating valuable content and creating more opportunities for the social platform algorithms to find something that identifies with other users. This will give you more chances to end up on other people’s feeds and get noticed.

Posts can be in-depth and insightful like articles on LinkedIn, or simple and relatable like “Monday’s, am I right??” with a gif of Garfield on Twitter. If you are authentically trying to connect with your audience and understand what they want, you can provide them with valuable content. Connect with others, communicate, and listen.

Go Beyond Analytics

We live in a world of big data but if you don’t understand why it matters, it’s nothing more than meaningless noise. Understand and never forget that behind each data point is a person, place, or thing with meaning.

All social platforms offer analytics of some kind. Take the time to do your homework and research. Your audience is speaking to you and understanding the analytics is how you listen. If you look closely at your past posts and their performance, you will begin to understand what kind of content your audience is looking for, enjoying, and engaging with. You will also begin to understand when they are online and demographic information so you know who you’re talking to.

Once you understand your audience and how they react to your posts, copy what works and don’t hang on to what doesn’t. If you post something you “know” should have performed well and didn’t, ask yourself why? What is it missing? What is the secret sauce that makes some posts work and others not?

Cheat the System

Organic reach is great but sometimes, professionally, you must pay to play. Don’t be afraid to boost posts that perform well. Boosting a post is how you promote it to get it in front of a larger audience and expand your reach.

Whatever you do, never boost a low performing post just because you think it should have done well and would do better if you’d only pay. This will be little more than a waste of money… and morale killer.

The Bottom Line

In the end, listen to your audience. You may have noticed a common theme here: listen, understand, act.

No matter what your father may have told you, no one knows everything (well, except maybe Ken Jennings). Never let your ego get in the way of your understanding of your customers and the people you interact with. This isn’t always easy but is always worth it.

When it comes to making a great first impression personally and professionally the answer is simple. If you want to be remembered, remember the needs of others first! Seek to understand how you can provide value, then provide it.

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