One of the most frequent concepts people bring up to me in their questions or comments, is online dating. For better or worse, your online presence [on or off] online dating websites. I was just watching this awesome video interview with the owner of Boston-based public relations firm, Lisa Nickerson.
The reason I mention the video, is that I feel it draws multiple parallels to online dating. Lisa talks about personal branding, your image online, and the importance of conveying your value to those who will appreciate it most. The more talking points I heard about public relations, the more I felt you could substitute ‘online dating’ and retain the same message.
Here are seven things PR [Public Relations, or…Positive Relationships?] can teach us about online dating.
1. Put in the effort to control your personal brand, before someone else does.
At the 3:00 mark in the video, the hosts begin to discuss the importance of creating a positive public image for yourself. One of the major benefits of this is that when people have a positive perception of you, they will be less likely to dwell on potentially negative pieces of information they come across.
For example, if you have a happy and optimistic presence across all of your social media pages, including your online dating profile, someone would be less likely to believe a negative rumor they may hear about you, as opposed to if you had no presence at all.
If a brand has very little public information or image, creating one that is positive after negative rumors have surfaced, is exponentially more difficult because you have no leverage of a good reputation to work with. The same goes for individuals as well.
2. Understand the importance of quality photos.
At the 7:00 mark, the hosts might as well be talking about online dating. They discuss the importance of having quality, professionally shot photos that you have chosen, because often times publications online as well as print publications, love and gravitate towards great imagery.
In fact, around 8:40 – they directly talk about a certain type of photo not to use in your dating profile. Very similar rules apply to public relations for your brand, and your personal online presence. In order to attract people, we have to accept that online dating is very visual. Sure, anyone looking for a serious relationship will see past the photo and dive into your interests, but scrolling through hundreds of thumbnails can show the importance of having one that stands out.
On your personal profile, a variety of photos is important. A variety of angles, outfits, scenarios – photos that you’ve chosen to tell the story of your life. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all.
3. Put social media at the top of your list.
While the hosts discuss the importance of a professional LinkedIn profile in the business world, a well-put together Facebook and/or Twitter page are paramount to success in online dating. Around the 10 minute mark, the issue of keeping Facebook private is raised. Some people want their Facebook page to only be for people they know – but the reality is that once someone who is interested in you finds out your full name, Facebook is probably the first place they are going to go searching for you.
You could have a stellar online dating profile, but if your social media presence tells a much different story, people are not going to take a second look. The same goes for your brand.
4. No PR is bad PR.
At 11:11, Lisa is asked what one thing is that self-employed people do wrong. Her answer was: Not doing anything. She elaborates to say that “Oh, you’ve got the best product in the world” [In this case, that product is you], “but if people don’t know it, they can’t share it.”
The first step in any kind of dating, online or otherwise, is putting yourself out there. I know it makes you nervous. I know there is pressure. I know there is a learning curve as you figure out what to say and what not to say. But the fact of the matter is that you could be the absolute best person on the planet with the kindest heart and the friendliest smile – but if you don’t portray that, the people who are looking for you will never find you.
And, there are people looking for you.
5. Do what you say you are going to do.
I am so glad this point came up during this conversation, because I hear complaints time and time and time again [usually from women…ahem, guys…] that people these days just don’t stay true to their word when it comes to dating.
If you say you are going to call on Tuesday, call on Tuesday. Follow up. Have integrity. These things are all equally important in your personal and professional life.
6. Understand the value of referrals.
When asked what her key to staying in business so long is, Lisa says she consistently over-performs. When the host asks if that means she is underpaid, Lisa makes a great point.
It doesn’t mean you are underpaid if you get more referrals from your existing clients.
Many people, unfortunately, become rude and defensive when something doesn’t go their way in the dating world. Rejection can bring out people’s most ugly sides – but sometimes things just don’t work out. Two people just aren’t compatible. But – maybe his or her friend could be your future spouse.
By being kind to people regardless of whether things are going your way or not, you keep the door open to them saying “You know, I think I know somebody who you would really fit well with.” But if you let your emotions get the best of you are lash out, you are slamming that door shut.
7. The only way to get better at it is to start doing it.
A great analogy is given towards the end of the video at 19:20. The host says “The only way you can build that muscle is by doing it, not by someday hoping you’ll be strong enough to do it.”
Online dating can be intimidating. There are a lot of people out there, some websites can be confusing, and you may not know what to say at first. What pictures or statements or interests in your profile are going to catch the right person’s attention? Maybe you won’t know right away, but one thing is for certain: You will be able to learn along the way.
The only way to do this, is to get started. Remember, you are your own brand, and you have the ability to shape and present your reputation as you see fit. You know your strengths, emphasize them, and come out on top.
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