by David T. Bruce
Most of us would never consider going to a job interview wearing less than our Sunday best. Our hair would be properly groomed, our teeth would be brushed and our oratory skills would be as polished as our résumés. What we wear as business professionals matters, because people draw conclusions and form first impressions about us based on how we look and how we promote ourselves.
Perhaps an advantage of working in front of a computer screen or from a handheld device is that you don’t have to put on a front if you are having a bad hair day. An advantage of working from home and building virtual professional relationships is that your clients and co-workers don’t have to know that you are working in your sweats or pajamas. On the Internet, clothes don’t make the man or woman. You can make your first impression based on your credentials, your résumé.
Another powerful way to make a good first impression – or not – is in the way that you use language. Simply put: Words are your wardrobe. As your résumé communicates your experience, your choice and use of words reflects your professionalism, your voice and your personality. Consider the number of business letters, blogs, emails and tweets that you post, each highlighting these attributes. Poor grammar and sentence structure, as well as communiqués sprinkled with spelling and proofreading errors, communicate either a language deficit or a lack of attention to detail, leaving the reader with a bad first impression of your skills and ultimately of you as a professional.
Poor grammar is indeed a communication crisis that becomes evident when we speak and when we write. And improving grammar certainly doesn’t mean that writing needs to become snobbish and long-winded. On the contrary, in many instances, writing can be improved by using smaller words and shorter sentences.
Given the immediacy of social media and the expediency in which communication is delivered, the benefit of taking time to write, edit and proofread professionally becomes fundamental. Review your grammar rules and review your writing before sending, posting or tweeting.
Will Rogers said that “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” and in the virtual business realm of the Internet, that chance has global implications and may instantaneously become extinct with a click or a swipe. Conceivably, you might not get a first chance to make any impression. So make your impression count.