A few years ago I became obsessed with the MTV series, Catfish. Did you see it?
It followed unsuspecting internet users who’d been lured into relationships by means of a fictional online persona.
So whilst 23-year-old Brad thought he was communicating with 21-year-old Selena (and sent her countless gifts and money to try to woo her), he was in fact speaking with 49-year-old father-of-five Jason who was pocketing all Brad’s cash.
The show aimed to expose the ‘catfishers’ with a big reveal at the end. It made for painful, but compulsive, viewing.
I’m often reminded of this show when I look at people’s online profiles and compare them with what I see when I meet them in person.
There’s so often a huge disconnect between the two. A classic catfish situation.
Sometimes people try to present a better version of themselves, using ten-year-old photos when they had more hair and fewer wrinkles.
But, more often, they present a much worse version of themselves.
- boring, dry, corporate language that they’d never use in person when speaking (‘results-driven professional’ – shoot me now)
- a photo of them looking dead-eyed into their iPhone, more serial killer than serial entrepreneur
- a stilted, formal tone that’s more suitable for a Downton Abbey butler (‘I am delighted to announce that I have been honoured with the Best Businessperson 2019 award for my efforts with regards to client development’)
- generic statements that anyone else could write (‘I empower businesses to make more strategic decisions’) instead of specific examples of their work
And these are big mistakes.
We use people’s online profiles as a way to vet and to get to know them – to see if they look like the kind of person that we’d want to work with, that we’d trust.
If the persona we’re seeing looks as dry as Ryvita, then we won’t bother continuing the conversation.
Or if we have a mental picture of someone in our head, and the person we meet looks very different, we might wonder what else about them isn’t to be trusted.
So take a look at your website, LinkedIn profile or anywhere else you promote yourself and ask:
- does it look like me?
- does it sound like me?
- does it feel like me?
If not, dive in and make some changes.