I make no apology this week for returning to a subject that I’ve written about before – the reasons why I like you so much.
And no, I haven’t come over all sentimental in my old age. I still have my business head on, but in an age where we’re increasingly ‘meeting’ each other virtually before we meet in person, first impressions – for me – are coming to count more and more.
Whether it’s your website, your blog or some other form of social media that introduces us, the question I want answering is simple. Would I like you? Would doing business with you be a good experience?
So what creates a good first impression with me? There are six boxes you can tick – but first of all, two that you can’t. Number one, don’t tell me how qualified you are. People are increasingly taking qualifications for granted. If you’re the senior partner of KPMG I’ll take it on trust that once upon a time you passed an accountancy exam. And don’t tell me how good you are: let other people do that – then let me form my own opinion.
So what are the six boxes? Here goes…
Hey, that’s a nice photo I have a good friend and client with a simple philosophy. ‘If I look too nice in my photo people will think I’m a soft touch.’ You won’t be surprised to hear that I disagree. I’ve just had my own photos re-done (and I’ll stick with them for the next twenty years, thanks) as I wanted to look more friendly and more approachable. I think the day of the man-in-suit head and shoulders photo is over: let me see you smile. Or let me see you working with your clients.
Your football team makes you suffer What I really mean by this one is that I want to see you have a sense of humour. So ‘proud supporter of the mighty Manchester United’ doesn’t work for me. ‘Proud supporter of the mighty York City’ does work for me. (You all know who I support. ‘Pain’ is an understatement.) Of course, it doesn’t have to be football, but show me somewhere that you’ll be good fun to deal with; that you have a life outside the office.
You’re self-deprecating As I get older I find I like my heroes in books and films to have flaws. Give me a character like Wallander every time. So I’m not worried if I read ‘plays golf, mainly from the rough’ or ‘devoted father, currently struggling with Year 9 Maths.’ What I’m looking for here is insight and humility: there’s nothing quite as off-putting as perfection.
You love your children Or your wife. Or both. My family is hugely important to me: it’s the rock on which my whole life is based. Am I going to be put off if something on your ‘About’ page suggests that you might ask to re-arrange an appointment as it clashes with the nativity play? Exactly the reverse. You’ll have a thousand business meetings in your life and half a dozen nativity plays. I want to deal with someone who really knows the meaning of a priority.
You care Not just about your family, but about the wider world as well. I find I’m increasingly giving a mental tick to companies where the website reflects a commitment to a charity. So out with ‘we’re committed to helping our community’ and in with ‘on July 6th and 7th three of our directors are cycling from coast to coast to raise funds for our local hospice.’
You talk like a human being In many ways this is a summary of the previous five points. I want to deal with someone I’ll like – so make sure your website/social media is well written and easy to read. According to my writer friends the best tip is to write it and then read it out loud. And if it doesn’t sound right then it isn’t right.
With that, have a great weekend and I’ll be back next week. And the best of luck to those of you that embraced Movember this morning. Put it on your website – another reason to like you…