Whether meeting a mentor-to-be for coffee and conversation or whisking through the second round of interviews for your dream job, making a great first impression is no longer limited to the meet-and-greet.
In this digital age, networking occurs as much online as it does in person. And people are more likely to reach out to you after Googling your name than from a business card at a conference.
What comes up for your name? Creating a professional online image is more than classifying your personal social media as private.
Let's talk about the combination of your in-person impression and your online footprint.
Why develop a business-facing profile? Engage with thought leaders in your field and contribute to discussions. Establish yourself as an expert to journalists and others searching your name and your field. As I said before - what comes up when you search your name? Fill that results page with a professional LinkedIn profile and tweets.
Other than LinkedIn and Twitter, how else can you get online? If you're in research, consider creating an account on ResearchGate and updating your default profile on Academia.edu. You can expand your academia.edu profile to host a personal webpage, or take advantage of GitPages if you're in the data science / statistics field.
get a headshot
A key part of a professional online profile is a professional photo. It's worth the money to pay for a headshot session. My personal preference? I used thumbtack.com to post what I was looking for (half day session with several locations outdoors for professional but unique headshots) and the photographers came to me! I even listed my budget - so those that responded already knew my price point. Many professional schools also offer greatly discounted headshot sessions in a professional environment. Keep your eye out for these opportunities.
I'm not going to hawk the classic society line that women need to have a professional but classic but trendy but conservative look to make a good impression. When it comes to first impressions, I think confidence is the number one aspect that portrays success.
Whether you like suits or jeans, pixie cuts or long curls, present yourself well - be comfortable in your suit, forgo the ripped jeans, and brush your hair. In terms of sprucing up, do what makes you feel confident and comfortable. If you're like me and limit your hair and makeup prep to 20 minutes max, have a few easy but elegant hairstyles up your sleeve that last all day without another thought. If you're unsure about your smile, think about reaching out to a local dental care expert for an upgrade. Love the gap in your front teeth? Work it!
master the classics
A key challenge of online communication is the lack of body language cues. So when you're networking in person, take advantage of non-verbal cues - which say more than words in our face-to-face communication.
A professional profile online and a polished image in person sets you up for success in this digital age.
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