You hear and read it everywhere, it takes only 7 seconds to make a first impression!
How can you make the most of those precious 7 seconds?
Countless articles and books have been written about how to make a great first impression when you meet someone for the first time in-person, but what about your online presence? With the powerful social media tools available to our prospects, and clients, we are often making an impression before we even meet and sometimes before we are even aware that someone is looking!
This is where the power of a strong profile and portrait comes into play.
According to the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, there are seven crucial things to do in those first seven seconds. I propose that those same actions can be easily translated into elements that you want to present in your profile bio and headshot photo:
- Smile! Your facial expression is one of the first things that people notice about you. Does your face say “I’m warm and inviting”, “I’m strong and confident”, I’m professional and approachable”, or does it say “I’m smarter/better than you”, “I don’t want to be here”, or “I’m unapproachable?” In certain scenarios any of those expressions might be appropriate, so think about the message you want to portray to people who you might come in contact with. By the way, this doesn’t always mean you have to smile (all you gentlemen who hate your smile, rejoice!), a closed mouth smile or a friendly and relaxed expression on your face can often mean more to a viewer than a smile that you are clearly putting on just for the camera.
- Shake their hand. A good handshake is a narrow balance between a tight squeeze and a limp wrist. That handshake needs to be professional without being too overbearing. Do you see where I’m going with this? In a single image, we have to virtually “shake their hand” to make that great first impression. To do that, stick with a “safe” portrait that doesn’t try too hard to be different. Stay away from dramatic lighting, silly poses, or other distractions. A simple “nice to meet you” portrait is what you are going for!
- Introduce yourself. We all know that people don’t actually “read” on the internet, they skim. When you meet someone in-person you have the opportunity to introduce yourself with a few brief sentences, but online you get a tiny photograph and a couple words in your biography. Make every word and pixel count!
- Speak clearly. When you introduce yourself in-person you should speak in a competent and confident way so that the person you are meeting can clearly understand you and know what you are about. Similarly, your online presence should do the same thing. Don’t describe in your bio about how much you love long walks in the woods with your puppies and don’t let the “voice” of your profile get lost in a cluttered mess. Keep the background of your portrait simple and let your face speak for itself.
- Maintain eye contact. People perceive you as shifty, nervous or rude when you don’t make eye contact. This goes for a professional portrait as much as it does in-person. While there is a time and a place for the artistic “looking away from the camera” photo, your professional headshot is not that place. You want to take a “camera aware” portrait so the viewer feels as though you are looking at them and they have your attention.
- Look smart. That means dressing appropriately for the occasion. If you expect your profile portrait to be viewed by clients or executives, dress as you would if you were meeting them at their office. As always, your portrait is selling you as a person so don’t let your customer/colleague/prospect’s first impression of you be a cell phone photo of you shirtless on the beach.
- Sit down only when invited to do so. Okay, so this analogy is a stretch but bear with me for a moment. When you are meeting someone for the first time in-person it is good manners to wait until you are invited to sit down. This shows respect for the person you are meeting with and allows them to feel in control. Similarly, when you are creating your online biography and profile portrait you should show your potential viewer the same respect. Don’t use the space to sell your product or service and don’t use it to be overly aggressive or pushy. Use that precious little space to give the first impression of yourself as a genuine and professional person that they want to get to know, like and trust.
Does this seem like a lot to think about? The good news is that you don’t have to worry about it at all. Book a headshot session with us today and we’ll take care of making sure you are sending all the right signals for your first impression!