by Tony Vidler
Looking good professionally is critical in today’s world. It has always been important of course, but in the era of online search throwing up that awful photo from your party days…well…
These days our image precedes us…people are forming impressions about us from the initial contact and their initial search results. Those initial searches and follow up emails create an impression immediately, and hopefully establish a position of credibility (and perhaps authority) in the prospects mind. It is essential therefore to look as good as you can (professionally speaking) at these initial contact points if you want people to be impressed enough to give you a chance at being their adviser.
There are a heap of things we can do to look better of course, but there are 5 BIG Things that every professional should start with, and they are:
1. Look at yourself. Seriously….Are you an online nobody? A “non-entity”? Or worse? Google yourself…find out….and then clean up your online brand wherever you can. Remember that you can to a large extent “bury stuff” on page 3 of Google search by creating new more relevant content about yourself which is likely to hit the first page of search results…. Use some search phrases too (not just your own name) so you can figure out who or what you are competing against to get found in search.
2. Look Professional. As far as online search is concerned, your Linkedin Profile is going to matter more than most other things. Get your Linkedin profile as good as you can get it….complete it all. Get a great photo. Fill it out…and for heavens sake put some contact details in there. It is is unbelievable how many LinkedIn profiles don’t even have an email address or contact phone number…I mean, do you want prospects to call you or not? Then build a network…look like you are connected….Get it done!
3. Look like a business. It is unfortunate but true: if you don’t have a website then your credibility plummets. It doesn’t have to be an award winning website, but there has to be one that looks professional and gives people a strong sense of what you do and how you do it. No website….no credibility. Maybe that sucks, but that is just the way it is for the savvy and connected consumer today. Now having said all that…no website is better than a really cruddy one. So if you do have a website but it is really awful then make a strategic decision: fix it up and modernize it, or shelve it until it does relfect well upon you.
4. Look bigger & smarter. Leverage your image by looking like you are a switched on business that doesn’t miss a trick. Introduce branded email into your communications as soon as you can. Boring old plain vanilla text only emails are less interesting than a text today. And great branded email can have links embedded to your website, social media channels, your compliance requirements….whatever!
Smart email systems can also provide a brilliant audit trail, which is a superb compliance (or risk management) tool as there are automated receipts, auto-responders and analytics which all minimise human effort and maximise the evidence trail when it comes to client communications.
Given that email is still the dominant enquiry or enquiry-follow up tool this is an area where you get some pretty good mileage from your marketing spend. It is worth it.
5. Look like an Authority. Get Blogging or Podcasting preferably. Both are a surefire way to establish expertise and authority…and oddly enough even though most smart consumers know that anything can be put onto the internet, there is still a strong tendency for those same smart consumers to believe what is written and published or has a “channel”. It generates authority, and authority generates business opportunities. But if you don’t want to run a blog of your own try and do guest articles…post articles where you’ve been quoted or referred to….make intelligent and constructive comments on other sites and blogs…
The same with podcasting; if you don’t want to run one yoiurself then get yourself on to other folks channels as a guest. Have something to say that is worth listening to or delivers value.
These are the 5 basic actions that will get you looking good professionally online. And THAT matters enormously if you want customers.