Contributed By


Anita Campbell

CEO at Small Business Trends

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3 Ways to Improve Your Online Perception

September 29, 2014

Some people undermine their efforts to make friends and influence people online (to use the words of Dale Carnegie). They may be the kindest, most helpful, friendliest people you’d ever meet in real life, but online seem aloof, unfriendly, and difficult to deal with.

Some people undermine their efforts to make friends and influence people online (to use the words of Dale Carnegie). They may be the kindest, most helpful, friendliest people you’d ever meet in real life, but online seem aloof, unfriendly, and difficult to deal with. A lot of it boils down to perception. Luckily, perception is something that can be changed. See if you are guilty of any of these three off-putting techniques when it comes to professional networking online:

  1. Being hard to reach

    Imagine yourself in the following scenario. Your inbox is overflowing with unread messages. You are bombarded with messages and invitations from a multitude of social platforms. You have customers or clients who need attention. Your employees want a piece of your time – not to mention your family, who would like you home at a decent hour.

    Not hard to imagine, right? It’s probably your reality. So what do you do? If you are like some people, you make yourself hard to reach. You might put messages on Twitter like “Do not send me DMs; I don’t read them.” You wouldn’t publish an email address or phone number on your website, just a generic contact form. You write long notices on your blog about how not to bother you with unsolicited inquiries. Anyone who did manage to dig up your email address would get a lengthy autoreply about how you don’t have time to read emails.

    Look, I get it. People are busy. And smart entrepreneurs protect their time. But here’s the thing. Today, lots of prospective clients make first contact online. It may come in the form of a networking overture. They may be checking out a person on social platforms. Those efforts to protect your time may be limiting your earning opportunities.

    Solution: Get a virtual assistant to screen emails and social messages. You can still preserve your valuable time, but not seem quite so off-putting. Being easier to reach will set a more welcoming tone – and may just lead to a new client or two.

  2. Complaining and making negative comments

    Have you ever read a blog post that went on and on about some dispute one person had with a colleague or vendor?

    Then there are the people who always seem to be tweeting complaints about this or that product. Or it’s some city they hate, and so they disparage the area and sometimes even the citizens who live there.

    People – important people – may be put off by these negative communications. The writer may never know it.

    Think about it. If you were at a networking event in person, would you want to strike up a conversation with someone ranting and angry? Or would you rather walk up to someone who smiles and looks friendly?

    People are drawn to others who are positive and upbeat, or who at least are not negative.

    Solution: Keep all public communications about colleagues, customers, business partners, and vendors on a positive or at least neutral note. Impress others with positivity. It positively attracts.

  3. Not revealing enough

    The opposite of the person who shares too much online by complaining and airing dirty laundry in public is the person who reveals nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

    It’s hard to get to know someone when all you have is the equivalent of name, rank, and serial number about the person. It’s easier to strike up a conversation with someone who reveals a funny anecdote, or alludes to past experience, or gives a few details about the inner workings of her company, or shares a tidbit or two about himself personally. There’s something to talk about now. Anyone trying to get to know that person has a shot at identifying something in common or a shared interest.

    Solution: To make it easier for people to strike up a conversation with you online, use your corporate blog, as well as social media channels, to humanize your business and reveal to others a few details about the people behind the business. Same goes for completing social media profiles, including pictures. People want to see other people and hear about other people. Avoid being nameless and faceless in your business.

    In the end, it’s really about coming across as friendly to others. That will attract people and encourage them to network with you.

  4. This article originally appeared on

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