It doesn’t matter if you are a digital nomad or a brick and mortar business, your image says a lot about how successful you can be.
You are excited. You get wind a new client may need your service. You break out the laptop, start composing all the talking points about who you are and what you do. This isn’t about being all corporate, but giving your prospects and client the impression you take your job seriously. But before you send that oh-so-important-first-email, what does your digital image say about you?
We all get a ton of email every day. Personally, I get somewhere in the magnitude of 100-150 emails a day, invited and not-so-invited. The short answer is there is a lot of businesses out there clamoring for new clients. It really doesn’t matter if you are a singular writer or web designer or a fortune 1000 company, there is stiff competition. The level of sophistication you portray says a lot about who you are and what you bring to the table. I am constantly amazed at emails landing in my inbox riddled with typographical errors expecting me to use their services.
Here are 7 tips to help you project the right image:
1. Get a professional domain name and website.
First and foremost, this may be the single most challenging task in this list, it is also the most important. Ok, I know this can also be expensive. It doesn’t have to be when you start. A domain name only takes a few minutes to get and is a one-time small annual fee. With almost every hosting account, there are website templates and website builders to help you get started with your own website. You can write about what you do, even if it is a one-page website, it is better than nothing.
2. Project a professional image
In the twentieth century, you were not a legitimate business unless you had a business card. Today, you have to have a business card, a website and social media channels. This doesn’t have to be an all-consuming activity or terribly expensive. However, you should have a consistent “look and feel” across anything your prospects and clients see and receive from you. This includes consistent colors and format. Your website is your digital brochure. If you have a logo, it needs to be everywhere, on your website, your social pages and anything landing in front of your prospects and clients. Companies like Amazon and IBM understand this. This is branding, and it still matters.
3. Get a professional email address.
As I mentioned, I get a ton of email. I seem to get an inordinate amount of email from so-called SEO experts and web designers eager to “help me get on the first page of Google.” It’s almost laughable these experts are using a personal Gmail or Yahoo account. Like I would use a web designer that doesn’t even have their own web domain. Particularly when it is a personal name followed by a string of numbers and letters “@gmail.com.” It’s not going to happen. Again, get a domain name reflecting what you do in a professional way. Set up an email account for business and use it. Take a look at what you are sending out in email right now, what does your digital image say about you? If it needs fixing, take a few minutes and fix it. It’s really that simple.
4. Check your spelling.
This one is important enough to repeat the point. Email is so easy, so quick and so prone to clicking the send button before making sure it is perfect. I worked with a human resources manager one time who still manually skimmed resumes for candidates. If there was one typo, it literally got thrown in the trash or deleted without further comment. In those cases he didn’t even bother to acknowledge receipt of the application or further comment on the status. His position was if it wasn’t enough trouble to proofread, it wasn’t worth the trouble to respond. The same harsh reality applies to email. Take a breath and proofread before hitting send.
5. Use an email signature.
Next, this is the one simple task in this list which will make a huge difference. Aside from personal sounding email accounts, all too frequently I get email looking like a letter to grandma, not a professional looking correspondence. This doesn’t take any high-level graphic design skills, just set your name in bold, your company name and a few details listed below. Save it in your mail client and also repeat the process on your mobile device so you have a consistent appearance, regardless of how you send or reply to email.
6. Provide contact information.
Make it easy for prospects or clients to get hold of you. Make sure you have your phone number and (professional) email address prominently listed on every email you send out. Setting up your signature can automate this for you so you can concentrate on your message.
7. Provide links to your website and professional social media pages.
Lastly, this can be a real game changer for you. People want social proof about you and what you do. Provide clickable icons or links to your website and professional Facebook or LinkedIn pages. This doesn’t not mean your personal social channels, keep it professional.
With just a little setup on the front end, you get long-term benefits. Perception goes a long way to win the hearts and minds of prospects you convert to clients. People have problems needing solved. Helping them gain confidence in your ability is your job before you get the job. It doesn’t matter if you are globetrotting as a digital nomad, clients just need answers to their problems. While this may sound daunting, just taking one step at a time will get you there quickly and easily. Just think, when you have completed these activities, what does your digital image say about you then?
William Wheeler is a consultant, storyteller, teacher and IT expert. He has been a national subject matter expert for several universities and has written dozens of college level courses and is a published author.
William R. Wheeler, CEO/Principle Consultant
Wheeler Management Group
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