How Do You Want To Be Perceived?

Last year I wrote a post titled What Message Are You Trying To Project where I talked about things people do in public to try to get you to do something they want you to do and how those actions can be perceived in a negative light even if your intention is otherwise. It seems that I’m compelled to write on this subject again, this time concerning something I saw online. I’m not going to link to it because, well, you’ll see as I go on.

I came upon a post that someone shared on Twitter. The guy who wrote the post was complaining because Google Plus had removed the image he’d put up of himself. Their issue was that he had his middle finger sticking out in front of him and considered it objectionable based on the standards they’ve created for the site. His gripe was that he felt their standards were petty, that he had freedom of speech, and while he was at it he stated how much he hated that G+ forces people to use their real names.

I’d say it was an interesting rant, but for a different reason. What I can’t figure out is why someone would want to go to a site like G+ and put up an image of themselves that immediately projects themselves in a negative light. In my opinion, the picture makes the guy look like a jerk. The image I saw made me think this was a guy I’d never want to meet or talk to, and if he had a business of any sort I’d never even think about working with him or asking him to provide any services for me.

Of course my perception is probably incorrect but that’s not the point. The point is that my first impression of the guy is that he’s a jerk. You know the old saw that you only get one chance to make a first impression? And this guy happens to be fairly connected; he runs a venture capitalist company and writes for TechCrunch as well. This isn’t a dumb guy by any means.

How many times have I written about the topic of influence and consequences on this blog? I take those things seriously. If I decide to be controversial, I do so in a certain way because I know how I want to be perceived, even if I don’t always care if someone agrees with me at those moments. Being perceived as a radical or as a complainer because of a rant, I don’t mind. Deliberately putting up an image that’s antagonistic before anyone’s had an opportunity to know more about me… nope, not me.

Still, maybe the old ways aren’t always the best (no, I’m not really believing that in this instance) so maybe I’m not seeing it as someone else might in today’s world. What say you on something like this?
 

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What Message Are You Trying To Project?

A strange thing happened to my wife and I last Saturday.

Some Saturday mornings, we decide to go to what’s known as the Regional Market of Central New York. People from all over central New York sell all sorts of things there like fruits and vegetables, candies and cakes, candles and perfumes, fish, clothes, foods, etc. My wife goes almost every Saturday. I’m kind of a part time guy; I invariably have a good time (when it’s warm weather), but you have to go early if you want to be close to everything, otherwise you could have a long walk coming.

This Saturday was going along like any other. I was saying hello to babies, being my naturally friendly self, while my wife was looking at produce that she and a friend were going to share later. This particular week there happened to be a Christian group booth in the middle of one of the display areas, and as we got there I got distracted by some honey roasted cashews on a table to my right. I’m not sure what my wife was doing, as she was slightly behind me, but I heard the man ask her if she would take a flyer he wanted to give her. She politely said no, and his response was “are you ready to die?”

Because I knew she wasn’t in danger I didn’t turn around, but kind of out loud I said “I’m thinking that’s not the best sales pitch I’ve ever heard.” The women in front of me heard it and laughed, and one of them turned around and gave me a high five. I accepted it, but I was thinking “what the heck was that all about?”

In the next display area we came to, a man was smiling and holding out his flyers. This time I said no thanks and walked on, but my wife decided to take his flyer. On the front was what you see in the image: Muslims for Peace. Later on, while sitting in the car while my wife went into a new hair salon to ask some questions, I pulled the flyer out and read through it, and found it somewhat illuminating.

No, I’m not about to go out and become a Muslim. However, I have to say that the two messages my wife and I got literally within minutes of each other were drastically striking and contrary. If my only experience ever with both Christianity and Islam had been these two men, you know which way my support would have gone. The way information was presented was way different, and even though I understand the message the Christian man wanted to convey to my wife, in a public forum with lots of other people around and one chance to make a good impression, he uttered a statement that could have been taken as a threat, but was definitely taken as one of strange intolerance for someone else’s position, all from deciding she didn’t want a flyer.

Lately here I’ve been talking about influence and social media marketing, but in the past on my other blog I’ve talked about consequences and perception. Giving people a reason to dislike you more because you said something wrong rather than stating an opinion someone else may or may not like is almost never worth it if you really care about getting business, making friends, etc. I’ve talked a lot about how social media can be your friend, but sometimes it can also hurt your online and offline business if your timing is bad and your words not quite correct. Of course, as I’ve always said, if you’re ready to deal with the consequences you can say anything you want.

Of course, I have no religion or faith, so I’m not going to be changing to anything any time soon. Still, if I were at Hogwarts I’d probably have given 50 points to some house and taken 50 points away from another. I wonder who ended up scoring better on the day once my wife and I left last Saturday.

Love Couture Love Peace Sequin Tunic

Love Couture Love Peace Sequin Tunic






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Expert, Specialist, Professional Or Hack?

Last night I went to a local networking event that turned into a presentation. It was put on by a group called Syracuse First, an organization whose initiative is to get people to buy and spend their money locally to enhance the area. Supposedly, studies have been shown that when you spend your money with local companies, they tend to put 73% of it back into the community, whereas spending money at large places such as Walmart sends money out of your state and into other people’s pockets. It’s a great initiative.

Anyway, the networking event also turned into a presentation on social media, which I wasn’t expecting, but it wasn’t all that bad. One of the presenters, a buddy of mine named Paddy (no, not his real name), who runs a company and blog called ODX Fusion, began his portion by saying he wasn’t an expert, because most of social media was new and there were so many outlets that there was no way one person could actually know them all. He announced that instead he was a professional because he helped his clients figure out how to use certain social media outlets to their advantage.

My wife was there with me and she asked me if I was an expert. I told her I wasn’t an expert, but considered myself as a specialist. However, I realized that on my SEO website I list myself as an internet marketing consultant for small businesses, and that I do a lot of what my friend Paddy does. And yeah, he’s higher than me on Google for the term locally; have to work on that (I’m higher on Yahoo and Bing, though). lol

Overall, I was thinking that, in a way, it doesn’t matter all that much what we call ourselves. There are really two things that matter. One, how proficient are we in the things we do know, so that we can tell our readers and potential customers how to use these things to their advantage. Two, can we live up to whatever perception it is that we decide to allow others to have of us, whether we say we’re this or that or not.

For instance, among my friends I’m the computer / internet / social media expert; there’s not even a question in most of their minds. Yet, I’ve never told anyone I was an expert at anything. Sure, there’s a lot of stuff I can do. I’ve fixed a lot of computers and come up with some ingenious things every once in awhile, but there are things such as never replacing a motherboard or power source that I’ve never done. I don’t consider those as acceptable risks I want to be liable for, even though I’ve pretty much done everything else. Last week my wife’s hard drive just up and quit, and none of the tricks I knew worked, including putting it in the freezer. No information retrieval, and unlike my computer hers had never been backed up; I wasn’t feeling all that much of an expert last week.

Every once in awhile I wonder how I can call myself a social media specialist when there are so many new things out there that I don’t even know about, let alone know how to use. I mean, have you checked out Ching Ya’s blog and seen some of the things she talks about? Wow!

Then I come back to the reality that I know about a lot of them, at least in passing, and made a determination that it wasn’t a direction I personally wanted to go. Kind of like in my post the other day on creatures of our generations, I’ve determined that my own sensibilities just don’t fit certain things. Yet, I do know about them, and if I’m talking to a client or potential client I mention these things, give an unbiased opinion on them unless they ask me if I use them, in which case I tell the truth, and let them make their own decisions about it.

I can build website, but I know nothing about flash. I’ve often wondered if that negates my claim of being able to do all sorts of websites until I realized that the reason I’ve never learned flash is because I’m not a designer. In other words, I can create functional websites and I can suggest colors and maybe a few different layouts. But if someone wanted a fancy splash page, or wanted a cool template, that’s beyond my mental capabilities.


Rolling Hills
Rolling Hills

As a kid, I drew two types of pictures all the time. One was my belief of what an idyllic scene would be, with a rolling hill, a sun in the corner, V-birds in the sky with a couple of clouds, a few trees, a pond, maybe a couple of flowers, and a house with one door and one big window in the middle on the second level; that’s what comes from never living in a house. The other was where I’d take my ruler and just draw straight lines, sometimes intersecting, sometimes not, then coloring each box I had left with different colors until every box had a new color. And there was a mathematical progression in it all, such that one day I put 5 of them together and was amazed at how close they all were to each other. Shame. 🙂

In your normal day, no matter what you do or how many things you do, how do you look at yourself? Do you even try to classify yourself? How do you perceive others see you? And finally, what are you ready to try to live up to?
 

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