How many times you’ve met a Twitter follower or a fellow blogger in real life and could hardly recognize the person?
In the age when many offline connections start online, the importance of your online perception is sometimes more important than your real persona. However, divided into many social network profiles, blog posts, tweets and feeds, this personality not always comes across as well as the real one. Many times we suffer from the online version of a Multiple Personality Disorder, created either by ourselves or other people who misinterpret our message.
Our real life politeness, good manners, orator skills, natural charm and lovely spark in the eyes have close to zero chances to be be translated online. Politeness can be perceived as coldness, speaking skills won’t help you in 140-character Twitter communications and that spark in the eyes will be lost in a 75×75 pixels avatar. So how do you translate all your amazing personal qualities into your online personality? Is it really enough to use smileys or LOLs to come across as bubbly as you are? Do you need to spend 3-5 minutes formulating every tweet to come across as sharp as you are? How do you balance being personal and fun with professional and intelligent?
Obviously, it’s a long process of building connections and diversifying your communications enough so people will have a chance to be exposed to all these wonderful sides of you. It’s not only important for creating personal or business connections, but sometimes may prevent misperceptions about you, created either by other people, or unintentionally even by you. Few ways that might help to translate the real you online:
1. Invest time in a good profile photo that captures your true essence. Ask a close friend to take it for you – we usually feel most comfortable among our friends, so a photo taken this way will probably capture the real you. Do you smile a lot? Make sure to capture that. Are you a big dreamer? Go for a dreamy expression. Do you have a wild personality? Make sure to capture this spirit. The catch: don’t be tempted to make yourself into something you are not, you will run into a “danger” of people feeling “tricked” when they meet you in person.
2. Make your personality consistent across various networks. Make it easy for people to recognize you when they find you on other social networks. For example – use your blog profile photo & name on Twitter to help people make a connection between the two.
3. Use video to communicate important messages. Your facial expressions are a big part of who you are. Sometimes they can speak better than well written sentences. Video makes you 3-dimensional, therefore more real and believable.
4. Write an compelling personal bio. Your social networks bio isn’t a resume – it’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are. Don’t be afraid to include fun details like unusual hobbies or things you are really passionate about. For example, I would feel immediately connected to someone who is into Indian-inspired electronic music, just because I’m so passionate about it as well.
5. Make an effort to meet your online friends offline. Nothing describes your personality better than its real instance. Next time you travel – find out which of your long distance Twitter/Linked In/Facebook contacts are in the area and make an effort to meet. If you live in a big city like New York – make a weekly habit of scheduling lunch/ coffee/ drink with one of your online friends. Your online connections will be much deeper once you know the person behind the avatar.
Lastly, since it’s so hard to prevent mispreceptions online, don’t focus too much on your online perception by others. Instead, create value and engage with your online contacts so you will be judged by your actions rather than by the online instance of your personality.