Remember the old Head & Shoulders commercials from the 80s? You know, the ones that end with “You never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression” (here’s a 30-second one).
Fast forward to 2011.
The first impression concept still applies. However, now many of those first impressions happen online. People pass judgment – for good or bad – based on what you do, what you say, how you look, and overall how you represent yourself online. This can be in the form of blog posts (like this one), Tweets, Facebook status updates, LinkedIn profiles, Google+ threads, etc.
When was the last time that you Googled your name (here is mine)? While it may seem vain, it’s always important to see how your online profile is being viewed by others. How about your last few dozen tweets or Facebook posts? Do you like what you see? Is there anything there that you (or your mom) would not be proud of? Is there anything that could get you in trouble with your employer, clients or even future employer?
Building on this concept, what about your profile picture? The one thing nearly all social media sites – Twitter, Facebook, & LinkedIn, etc – have in common is the ability to upload a profile picture (avatar). These avatars are normally quite small. In fact, on Twitter, your avatar is reduced to a 48×48 pixel image. That’s not a lot of real estate to make that first impression! Additionally, when speaking – virtually or in person – you normally have to submit a headshot (avatar). How you represent yourself online, specifically your profile picture, matters. I blogged about this a few months ago – Does Your Profile Picture Matter? – and I still believe it applies today.
I’ve had the same profile picture for 16 months (this one) – as my avatar on all social media sites, as a slide on all presentations, as part of all online & offline collateral for events that I’ve spoken at. I think that this picture is a very much in alignment with who I am. It’s served me well, so to speak. However, it was time for a change. My friend Jason Keath told me that while it represented me perfectly, it was not really that easy to see my face. It didn’t “fit” well in the 48×48 pixel online world. He had a point.
So, I Bring You…
…my new avatar. In case you missed it, it’s the picture at the top right of this post. In an effort to make this post not 100% about me (ha!), I want to prove what I mean by “profile pictures matter.” Everyone has an opinion, right? Below is a sampling of the feedback I received – both on Twitter and Facebook:
Good…in the small pic. A little scary up close. Kinda serial killer-ish.
DJ, this photo is totally you. As I told K-Dawg over lunch while she was in Madison, your defining attribute is your relentless enthusiasm in people and life itself — and this image captures it without question.
You look like you JUST hid the body someplace we’ll never find.
Bring back the mug shot!
I love that photo of you.
Gonna take some time to recognize the new @djwaldow avatar. I’m used to him jumping out at me everywhere (kinda like real life).
Like the new avatar. Faces are best, dude!
whoa. new avatar???
Look who’s rocking a new avatar.
Nice pic, but I already miss the old one. Looking forward to the story behind the change in your blog post.
Now to be clear (& fair), all of these comments came from friends, family, and acquaintances – all people who know me, most of whom I’ve met face to face. Technically, this was not my first impression. However, the point is that how you represent yourself online does matter. Some people love it. Others, not so much. Either way, this photo is now my official “first (online) impression.”
What are your thoughts? Much ado about nothing or does your profile picture – and overall first impression online – really make a difference?