Are We Now Marketing First Impressions?

In this day of social media and online interactions, do you believe that first impressions are important? How many of those impressions are made largely from Facebook or Instagram content before even interacting with a person? I’ve been trying to up my social media game and I’m struggling. For the first time ever, I feel like I have control over what parts of me I want to present for a first impression.

I’m set to launch my coaching services in mid-July - the minute I graduate from my training. I’ve been working really hard to determine an area of focus, what types of programs I’ll offer and how I will weave my love of yoga and mindfulness into my offerings. The next step is for me to get my services in front of the right people.

I know all too well from my experience as a yoga teacher that in services such as yoga, Reiki healing and coaching too, fit is extremely important. There needs to be a chemistry, a similar or complimentary energy between two people in order to form a productive partnership in these types of services.

I learned that lesson a couple years ago when I was asked by a studio owner to teach a private yoga class. As a fairly new teacher, I was thrilled with the opportunity. It meant that I would need to think on my feet and practice adapting on the spot to the student’s wants and needs. When I met the student, the first thing she said was that she wanted a workout and (I still remember her words) “…none of that breathing sh*t.” My jaw dropped and I stared at her for probably longer than is socially acceptable. My thoughts were racing. For me, yoga is all about linking movement to breath; about connecting with oneself and we do that through anchoring our attention to breath. Why was she choosing yoga rather than a gym?

I did my very best to provide her with a workout. My sequence felt stunted, cumbersome and disjointed. I slipped up numerous times and cued breath. It was such an integral part of the movements and habit took over. After that session, I knew I’d never see this woman again. I knew I wasn’t the teacher for her at that time. We were too far apart in terms of our view of yoga.

Of course, I knew about the need for some form of synergy but I hadn’t yet admitted that I couldn’t be everyone’s yoga teacher. As a student, I chose, and still choose today, my yoga classes based on my mood and what I need at that moment. There are serious-type teachers that I will turn to when I need a music-free zone with no extra chatter. There are other teachers that I’ll turn to when I need the rhythm of funky tunes and to feel that sense of community as other students and I crack up when the teacher says something funny. Yoga, much like many wellness services is, after all, about connection to oneself and to community.

Coaching also requires that sense of connection between coach and client. I’ve learned that I’m a very emotions-driven person. That’s my operating system, if you will. I don’t shy away from strong emotions. I trust my intuition above everything else. However, I also like to get things done. Nothing satisfies me more than checking an item off my list and moving to the next one. Will that resonate with everyone? Nope! It isn’t meant to. I will not be the best coach for everyone. However, I may be what’s needed for someone who is similar to me or someone who is looking to cultivate areas of their lives from which I operate.

So that brings me back to this notion of first impressions. In the past, one would get a sense of someone during a first meeting over coffee or maybe even during a phone call. We would assess fit by how someone responded through body language and words used. Now that most of our interactions are over Zoom, the world is so much smaller. We are no longer limited to finding services in our community but can work with people from anywhere in the world.

As humans, most of us will rush to change what is unknown. We poke around someone’s Facebook or Instagram account before meeting them. I know you do it. So do I! This is where I struggle. I’m not wanting to deceive anyone by having a beautifully put together Instagram feed that shows my perfectly-appointed office space worthy of a magazine spread. I also don’t want to show anyone the space we’re living in at the moment while we renovate our kitchen and it looks like the first floor of my house exploded! How does one capture personality traits, values, intensity, commitment? How much is glossed over and what is too raw?

Last weekend, I asked my older daughter if she would snap some candid photos of me for my website. I explained that I wanted to have photos that showed my joie de vivre to complement my more professional headshots. I told her I didn’t want to appear intimidating. She towers above my 5’2” frame. She looked down at me and said I needn’t ever worry about appearing intimidating and gave me her best eye roll. That’s a good thing though, right?

At the end of the day, I realized that our forced normalization of interacting through Zoom and other online platforms has opened up the possibility to meet and connect with so many more people than before. Social media provides us with an opportunity to sift through and identify those we feel we may be more attracted to. Some times, we will get it right and identify the right people with whom to share our journey. Some times, we may not. One thing is for sure though, social media strategists are in demand because we are altering this concept of first impressions and how we make them. For my part, I will continue to do my best to share my energy so that my people can find me.



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