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You Only Get 1 Chance to Make that First Great Impression

Whether it be your presence, your dress attire, smile, or style, they all influence the first impressions in those you meet. If they experience bad first impressions such as a weak shake, they not only convey weakness, but also lack of confidence. Most business professionals have learned by their mid-30’s, and many by accident even later in life, that a limp wrist or weak shake does nothing to attract someone to you, unless they are some gentle doctor or missionary “Giver” type. People are attracted to a firm handshake. It spells confidence, leadership and someone with a mission and passion in their lives.

Droopy shoulders shout out shy, quiet one, or even loser. Remember the Hunchback of Notre Dame? Who defied the norm and reached out to him? It was only one.

Do you have that one friend that doesn’t know how to dress and they never seize to amaze you with the honor of being your worst dressed colleague. You won’t tell them because you are afraid of hurting their feelings. Most will go through life without any fashion sense.

Dare we talk about hair? It must be well-groomed, neatly trimmed and clean. It should never be hanging in your eyes. First, it looks like you either can’t afford a haircut or too lazy to go get one. Second, people don’t trust someone that they can’t look into their eyes.

The same is true on LinkedIn! You only get 1 chance to make that first great impression!

The difference is, this time there is much more to help form that impression and so much more important to look your best. Viewers are judging you not only by your photo, but also your career path, achievements, motivation, community involvement, writing style and much more. If they can see a history of success it’s reasonable to view you on that trajectory going forward.

When LinkedIn members do a search, you have to stand out above your competition which could be your digital peers. You only have 6-7 seconds to entice them to open your profile and learn more. Then when they open your profile you only have another 6-7 seconds for them to decide if they want to pursue taking the next steps with you. Gone are the days when you got an average of 12-13 seconds for those reviewing your resume (today’s-profile) to either toss it in the trash or move forward.

If they have done a search in LinkedIn to find you, they will receive 10 pages of results with 10 members per page. In those first 6-7 seconds, they are viewing your photo, name, headline, location and industry and determining if they want to proceed to your profile to learn more about you. These 6-7 seconds are key. You can’t afford to give bad vibes. This is where you have to turn on the attraction. You have to have a professional headshot to build trust and make them want to learn more about you. This is not the place where you put your company logo, a caricature, group photo or your product &/or service you sell. It’s not just inappropriate, it’s actually in violation of the LinkedIn License Agreement, which we all agreed to when we signed up. It must be a picture of you and only you.

Worst First Impressions! Should we tell them?

Here are some great examples of photo violations and those putting them on their LinkedIn Profile have no idea that they are making a poor first impression, or worse a violation. Should we tell them? Could it be something similar on yours?

The WORST photos on LinkedIn:

1) Proud Dad holding his baby,

2) CEO with her 3 dogs,

3) Big ego guy standing in front of his yacht,

4) Motorcycle enthusiast sitting on his (Harley) Hog,

5) Women in a seductive pose or scantily clothed,

and my favorite of all time, drum roll please

6) Clean cut nice looking man in a business suit with a snake around his neck and the head of the snake in front of him is arched up looking up at his face.

No kidding! These are all photos that may be great for Facebook or plenty of other social medias, but totally inappropriate for LinkedIn. I keep a folder of these photos to show as bad examples of what not to do.

The idea is to build attraction not repel your viewers away. Before I share my next example I have to explain that I have a high respect for the military and frequently volunteer to help Vets. Now having said that, picture this. A man in full army gear (military camouflage) sends me an invitation. You can’t really see his face with the big shades on, so you have to wonder, is he a real person. His headline says he shoots for a living. Sure, he shoots that huge machine gun across his chest. Upon closer inspection of his profile, yes, he was formerly in the military and now he shoots photography. Why would someone blatantly put something like that on LinkedIn and expect you to accept the invitation? This is a great example of not attracting but a small fraction of the population on LinkedIn. Likewise, if you have tattoos or piercings, please keep them covered up on LinkedIn if you want to be accepted into the #1 Business Professional Social Media networking site.

Notice it is more than what we mentioned earlier, it’s more than the dress attire and hair. It’s the whole presence you project with your digital image and text headline.

As a side note, LinkedIn has a self-policing strategy. One of the best features on LinkedIn is to be able to report the violator’s LinkedIn profile to LinkedIn for them to investigate. Yes, you can report those who are hiding behind phony photos and inappropriate ones, as well as, entire profiles, and you should take it upon yourself to turn suspicious ones in for review to enable LinkedIn to continue to be #1.

What are your chances of moving forward if you haven’t maximized and optimized your profile, whether it be for business development, career advancement, or Job Seeker? What if you have issues with any of the above and worse yet, you don’t know you have a problem that can be detrimental to your career. (e.g. Would you ever be brave enough to tell a really dear friend that it’s impolite to talk while chewing food? Would you ever be a really good friend to share with them that they need help?) Would you want to find out early in your career when you can take corrective action, or late in your career and you are wondering why you weren’t promoted into that position, or worse yet, transitioned out. As someone in business development, if you continue making the same mistakes how can you get better results. What is repelling your viewers? Everyone always has room for improvements. They just may not be sure where or how to improve them. Have you ever looked through rose colored glasses in a microscope and you see nothing at first? Then, there it is, once someone focuses you on it. It’s so obvious, “why didn’t I notice it before?” Managing your brand is an ongoing process.


Depending on the response to this, I may address the second 6-7 seconds in an upcoming posting. Until then ask yourself, “Are you attracting or repelling on that first impression?” Ask a third-party expert for their outside opinion. It will give you the non-biased feedback that may be one of your finest career moves. Ask me what is your LinkedIn score? Please feel free to like and share.

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