A Bad First Impression



All of our lives we've been told that we only have one chance to make a good impression but rarely (if ever) are we taught what to do if we make a bad first impression. 

However, majority of the impression is out of our hands.

More often than not, bad first impressions stem from certain biases in how people perceive one another. So if you’ve ever felt underestimated, sensed that you inadvertently stepped on toes, or thought that false and hurtful assumptions were being made about you, you were probably right. The way we see one another can be irrational, incomplete, and inflexible - and largely (but not entirely) automatic.
— https://hbr.org/2015/01/a-second-chance-to-make-the-right-impression

Don't let this discourage you. According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, there are steps that you can take to have a second chance at a good impression.

First, understand perception. There are two phases, the initial assessment that is processed quickly and without conscious thought. And, if there's a phase two, the perceiver has to be much more conscious and work harder to form a better opinion of you.

The person forming their opinion of you filters you through multiple lenses, including the trust lens (your warmth and competence), the power lens (who holds the power), and the ego lens (who's superior). 

Once you understand perception, learn to come across the right way. How? By presenting the right kinds of evidence to help the other party draw the correct impression of you. Show warmth and competence, give the right physical signals, and be a person of your word. Show this person that you are helping them reach mutual goals and  create a sense of "us." If you made a bad impression the first time, it will take several moments of proving the person wrong by doing what's right.

Make it easy for the other party to change their mind about you by activating the desire to be fair, making yourself necessary, and seizing the right moments. 


It's easy to give up and move on with so many factors against you. Don't. Create the opportunity for a second chance to make the right impression. It's not too late.

Read the complete article from the Harvard Business Review's January 2015 issue here.




LinkedIn Rolling out Custom Profile Background Images (and How to Use This New Feature)

Guy Kawasaki's Profile with the new Custom Background Image

Guy Kawasaki's Profile with the new Custom Background Image

It was only a matter of time before LinkedIn would join the ranks of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and add custom background images to user profiles.

Influencers and Premium users will be the first to experience the new feature, followed by a roll out to the remainder of the user base.

Thanks to Guy Kawasaki for sharing this new feature!


How to Use the New LinkedIn Background Image


The sizing is is follows:

  • minimum 1400 x 425px
  • under 4MB

Showcase Your Personal Brand

Keep it professional but don't be boring, either. A photo of you speaking at a conference or your awesome creative work space would work best.

Portfolio Highlights

Highlight your best work by showcasing one piece of collateral or a collage of your best work. 


How would you use this new feature to show who you are?


UPDATE: Here is an article that showcases seven usage ideas for the new profile background image.

The LinkedIn Cold Call

Let's pretend it's 1994, before everyone had an e-mail address and LinkedIn did not exists. A sales rep (name Alex) just attended a training session lead by a self proclaimed guru and cold call expert. Alex could not wait to get back to the office to try out all the "amazing breakthrough" techniques he learned.

One of those techniques included asking someone to coffee or lunch the moment they connect via phone.

Alex decided to call Samantha, a potential customer. They have never met but Alex knows that they have several people in common so this should be an easy way to try out the guru's advice. 

The phone rings and Samantha recognizes the area code because she has friends from that particular city. 

Samantha: Hello, this is Samantha.

Alex: Hi Sam, this is Alex from Acme Inc. We know the same 20 people, let's get lunch. I want to get your thoughts on everything that you know. Also, I need your help on a project I'm working on and I want to sell you my services.

Samantha is baffled and a little creeped out. She's doesn't know who Alex is and has never heard of his company. The fact that they know 20 people does not help earn the trust. The rest of the conversation is awkward and Sam rushes off the phone. That icky feeling sticks and the damage is done, she will never do business with Alex or Acme Inc.


Twenty years later, this happens every day on LinkedIn.

The cold call is dead but there are a lot of misguided gurus still teaching the same techniques through these "new" communications channels. However, the social media channels require a different approach. 

We're in the trust economy now.

No trust, no sale.




How to NOT be creepy on LinkedIn


All relationships, whether they're professional or personal, require courtship. Yes, it takes time and is not always easy. There's no magic bullet that builds trust.

Also, don't be creepy about it. People don't like that.

Find Something in Common

What common interests do you have with the person you're trying to court? The fact that you know 20 people doesn't mean much. How do you two know those people? What are the common denominators in those relationship? Do your homework. 

Provide Value

Stop asking people for things (time, money, ideas, etc.) before you have given them something first. Give to give, not give to get. Providing value builds trust. Just don't be creepy about it. Don't overload them with information and make sure that the value you provide is specifically targeted towards that person

Get Referred by a Common Connection

LinkedIn has this handy dandy feature where someone you are connected with can refer you to someone who they're connected to. This is a less creepy way to connect with someone you don't know and comes with automatic trust that their friend will not refer someone who has no reason for connecting with them. This can also be achieved at networking events through introductions, or Twitter, or Facebook messages, etc. A referral is worth its weight in gold.


There's nothing wrong with asking someone to coffee or lunch to get to know each other better. Build the trust first, prove to the person that you're not a serial killer or trying to get into their proverbial and/or literal pants. There IS a better way to do it than to "cold call" someone on LinkedIn because some guru told you it works.


People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Be that person.




Brand Yourself: LinkedIn Profile Picture

First impressions are everything, whether they are in person or online, make them count.

Your LinkedIn profile picture is more important than you think.

You wouldn't show up in your beach attire to a professional networking event then why are you wearing a towel around your waist and a fedora in your LinkedIn profile picture?

I'm all for folks showing off their vacation pictures, their toned bodies, their kids, their pets, their significant others and friends. It's what makes you YOU! However, those things do not belong on your LinkedIn profile.


What your LinkedIn profile should NOT be:

It should not be a selfie, a crop out of you at a party, poor quality (pixelated, out of focus, grainy), have more than one person, poorly lit, inappropriate, or boring.


How to make a good first impression with your LinkedIn profile picture:

Hire a professional photographer.

A good photographer is worth their weight in gold. They can guide you through wardrobe choices, locations for the shoot, and pose you properly for your headshot.

A few months ago, I attended a Local Levo event with complimentary services provided to prep a group of young professionals for a headshot. I got my hair blown out by the experts at blo charlotte, my make up applied by a Mary Kay professional, and my photo taken by Lindsay Wynne.



After I received my proofs from Lindsay, I posted them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to get feedback on which picture I should use for my LinkedIn profile. After dozens of "votes" and comments, there were two clear winners.

I chose D, my favorite of the two.

Keep in mind that you should look friendly and inviting in your photo. Photo C got a lot of votes, however, I look like I'm about to cut someone. Not the first impression I want to make.


Do not be afraid to spend money on a good photographer and a crew of experts for a headshot. It's an important part of your personal brand.

"But," you say,

"I don't have the money for a professional photographer, I'm unemployed/new college grad/whatever!!"

Get creative.

Trade services with the photographer, crowdsource the funds, or ask for it as a gift for your birthday/graduation/whatever. Invest in you. 

Do it Yourself

Find a neutral backdrop with good lighting, study proper posing by looking at YouTube videos and Pinterest, and have a friend take photos of you. It's more time consuming but if it's your only option, make it work.


Still not convinced?

Your profile is seven times more likely to be viewed if you have a profile picture. This is huge regardless if you're looking for a new job or not. People do business with those who they know, trust and like. Don't lose their trust with the first impression.

You wouldn't buy a house based solely on a text description, would you?