Writer / Lisa Mitchell Photos Provided How often do you “meet” someone digitally before you actually meet them in person? If you’re like most people, the answer is “more often than not!” It has become standard procedure now to check out a professional’s LinkedIn profile before deciding to book an appointment, research a candidate’s social media profiles before considering them for a job interview and to “Google” someone before going on a date with them. We like to do our research, and using the Internet is our tool of choice. What is your digital first impression saying about you? Chances are, you haven’t put a lot of time or effort into really assessing what type of first impression you are making online, but you should. First impressions, especially those made digitally, are a PAIN: Permanent, Accurate, Immediate and Non-Verbal. Digital first impressions matter. And in many cases, your digital first impression can mean the difference between getting the job, being accepted into your dream college program or being asked out by a person who might be perfect for you in real life. Still not convinced that having a handle of your digital first impression is important? Let me share a story with you. A friend of mine recently had a friend whose daughter had applied to a prestigious university program. She had all the credentials, excelled in every key area and interviewed like a pro. All signs pointed to her being accepted in to the program. But then she was declined. They were truly baffled. When asked by a friend why the girl wasn’t admitted into the program, one of the members of the admissions board had this to say: “Tell her to get all that sh*t off of her social media.” Not representing herself appropriately and not caring for her digital first impression to ensure it conveyed her intentions properly was the difference between being accepted and missing out on an amazing opportunity. Don’t let this be you. So how do you take control of your digital first impression and make sure that people who are meeting you for the first time digitally are getting a true, authentic representation of who you are? The best way is to take a comprehensive digital asset inventory. A digital asset inventory is a great way for you to take a detailed look at each item that represents you online and to evaluate it for its current strengths and shortcomings, for things that should be changed and for ways it might be enhanced to better represent your intentions and capabilities. Begin by making a list of each digital asset that is currently used to represent you online. Digital assets include: social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, etc.), pictures, logos, videos, websites, head shots, brochures, marketing materials and any other item that helps to convey your digital brand. Next, quickly list the first three words that come to mind to describe your first impression with each of those assets. Are the words that came to mind the same words you would hope to have someone think of when they meet you online? If not, it’s time to make some changes! For instance, if you would want a potential client who found your profile on LinkedIn to immediately think of you as credible, trustworthy and professional, you would need to have a professional headshot of you looking straight forward into the camera and would want to make sure you have a genuine smile on your face to show warmth and openness. If you have a picture of you with a smirk (or half smile) and are angled away from the camera, the impression you give is that you are addressing them with contempt and are blocking or distancing yourself from them or perhaps being deceptive. Definitely not the vibe that you would want a potential client to pick up from your profile! And please, leave the “girls night out” or fishing trip pictures for your Facebook timeline. Those pictures don’t belong as your profile picture on a professional site. You would then work your way through each of your digital assets, evaluating each one in a similar manner. Once you know what specific digital assets aren’t making the first impression you would like it to, you can work through updating each one by removing the components that don’t convey you authentically and adding the photos, videos and content that will more accurately represent you and make a first impression you can be proud of. If you are interested in learning more about how to evaluate and improve your digital first impression, I’d love to help. I’m a Certified Body Language Trainer and Non-Verbal skills expert, and I love helping people master their first impressions, increase their influence and communicate with confidence. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @powernonverbals.