Live up to the hype of your online brand
One of the great benefits of networking platforms like LinkedIn is that you can be connected to countless people. If you are maximizing the reach of LinkedIn, you should be connected to far more people than you can or could ever meet face-to-face. This can include people who are in your same geographic area, live in different parts of the country or the world.
I have approximately 1,900 LinkedIn connections. I fair amount of my
connections are local. We connected online as a result of mutual contacts. I'm always excited when I can advance the online networking to in-person meetings. This occurs intentionally when we meet over coffee/tea to chat about our shared interests. Or, we can unexpectedly meet at an event. Most times these encounters go well, but I have had occasions in which I walked away bewildered.
In a recent case, I had been communicating with someone via messaging about our shared interests in public relations. I knew I would be meeting him at an event, so I was looking forward to finally connecting in-person. Of course, I recognized him from his LinkedIn profile photo. I approached him with some familiarity and excitement. To my surprise, he was real dry and nonchalant. This caused me to rein in my excitement. This really got me to thinking more about the need for people's online and in-person brands to match up.
I put great effort into making sure my online and in-person brands match up. My hope is that my online community views me as a very engaging, energetic, professional and resourceful person. If this is not the case when people meet me for the first time, I am not effectively living up to my brand.
Another case example of meeting a connection in-person who didn't live up to their online brand, was when I did some business with someone who promotes herself as a guru in her line of work. Yet, she did not practice in actuality simple business protocols. Needless to say, the process of working with her was very challenging. From the keeping of office hours, to professional email etiquette and event logistics... the experience left me baffled. This was a case example of how, if you promote your business online as one that helps others do something, you have to practice those very same principles.
To be honest, I have been guilty myself of breaking this standard. In my case, it is with phone conversations. When I am in project mode, I get very intense. Unfortunately, I may answer phone without my usual high energy self because my mind is deep in concentration, my eyes clued to the computer screen as my fingers pound out thoughts. Not wanting to lose a call, I answer the phone before I can readjust my focus and switch to my normal persona. Usually, this switch happens rather quickly. My hope is I am not risking an opportunity to make a good first impression. I'm working on getting better with this.
Having a dynamic online brand is great, but always strive to be true to that image. You don't want people to be excited to meet you/use your services based on your online presence, but they get disappointed when they meet you/utilize your services. Don't jeopardize professional and business opportunities by not living up to your online hype.