It’s always been important to make a good first impression. After all – depending on which research you read – people make up their mind about you in a timeframe of anywhere between one and 30 seconds.
That first impression is then either confirmed by your behaviour, or contradicted by it. You do get a chance, over time, to shift those first impressions but in some cases they stick indefinitely. As you go through life you’re amassing points, as it were, that add up to what people collectively think of you – your reputation.
And, of course, in this social media age, most of us are hugely influenced by our own networks. People are forming an impression of you and your organisation or business, based on what they are gleaning through the vast communication channels now available to us all – and perhaps without any direct input from you.
In 2014 we’re all performing on a world stage every day, courtesy of instantaneous, global communication. That 15 minutes of fame we used to seek now lasts forever – whether we like it or not.
In the 70s, the catchphrase was “What you think of me is none of my business.” Clearly, that was pre-Facebook. Now, what the world thinks of me can make or break my business. As far as the world is concerned, my reputation IS me, unless I can demonstrate otherwise.
So, that good first impression has never been more critical. But these days a ‘good’ impression is just a minimum expectation. We need to do more in this reputation-driven era. The key to your survival in this digital age is to be great – in word, in attitude and behaviour.
I don’t mean just saying you’re great, but actually being the greatest version of yourself that you can be. I believe the most powerful advice for businesses and individuals over the next decade is to focus on building greatness – on being a standout - in everything you do.
Back in the last century we relied on ‘spin’ to foster a positive reputation. Those days are over, because you can’t ‘spin’ greatness. People can see further into our lives and organisations than ever before. There’s nowhere to hide. They can see our behaviour, warts and all.
I believe the digital age will command higher and higher standards of impeccable behaviour. It may take some time before this kicks in across the board but the charletans, the shonks, those who treat others poorly, will all be outed along the way.
So, as we welcome in a New Year, make your resolution a new focus on building greatness in all aspects of your life. Be a standout, for all the right reasons. Remember, the whole world is watching.