Over the summer, I was at a get-together with business leaders and entrepreneurs. I was excited and nervous, but the night was fun.
I met a few interesting characters who were quick to talk about their past accomplishments. How young they were when they sold their business, how much money they made from online products, or their connections within technology and finance.
I let them blab but quickly exited the conversation when it was appropriate.
After the night ended, I started Googling some people I met, as one naturally does, but my motivations weren’t entirely pure.
Instead of trying to find out more about the people I met because I was curious, I wanted to see how wide the gap was between people’s descriptions of their accomplishments and their actual accomplishments.
The gap can be quite wide.
Nobody outright lied about anything, and I wouldn’t have cared if they did, but it was interesting to see what details someone omitted from their descriptions.
This made me think about the impression you leave on someone after they Google you. Typically, a “digital footprint” is seen as a bad thing: something from your college fraternity years that you have to hide from future employers. But in this case, it allowed me to understand the gap between what someone said they did versus what they actually did and how that altered my impression of them long after the conversation ended.
The best types of people to talk to, and those who you want to stay friends with and do business with, are those who, after you meet and Google them, your expectations are blown away. “Wow! I can’t believe I just talked to the founder or CEO of XYZ Incorporated, and they didn’t say anything to me about it!” Or, “She’s written like five books about topic ABC and didn’t mention it, but we talked about it all night long!”
I’m not saying they’re cocky or braggadocios just because some talks about their accomplishments. Instead, I’m saying there should be a few red flags that go up when someone constantly exaggerates their achievements.