Do first impressions matter anymore?

As always, any trend that I notice occuring because of technology's effect on people should be taken with a grain of salt... you know, because of that vaccuous Web 2.0 echo chamber that I sleep in.

That being said, I'm realizing that a lot of the relationships I've built up with people lately have been built up over time, nutured slowly by tiny bits of information and without the pressure of thinking that if you don't do a complete data download on the first meeting, you'll lose the chance to reconnect. For example, I started reading Rob May's BusinessPundit blog (He's now over at no link, posting by mobile) about two years before I ever met him in person. His blog just had to be readable enough for me to think I might want to go back to it again for it to get a tryout in my RSS reader...not a very high bar. But, it stuck, and we both wound up at last year's SXSW conference. Not only did it not seem weird, but all the previous back history of communication between us made the first inperson meeting that much easier. I didn't have all sorts of unfulfilled expectations or bad assumptions... I learned enough over time that I had a much more realistic view of him. Plus, I knew that, even if we didn't become best buds right then and there, our digital connection would keep conversation going, probably enable other chances to meet...It really took any pressure to form an immediate strong link off the table.

The same thing seems to be happening in poltics. I'll bet that when you had one chance to meet a candidate--the one time their election train rolled through your town, your first impression of them became a lot more meaningful. In today's world, we've swung to the opposite. Everyday, you see a new video clip. One day you think Hillary's a bitch, the next day you think she's warm and sensitive because she cries at a cafe hundreds of miles away. And what about John McCain? Didn't we have him left for dead not too long ago... wasn't Rudy the leading Republican candidate at one time? Turned out Rudy was a one trick pony and McCain can haz nine livez.

The ability to hang around the lurk, engage lightly, linger, subscribe, connect means that we have increased the window of opportunity we have to get to know each other...almost indefinately. I think that's great, because prejudgements are often wrong. How many of your favorite people did you initially have a not so great first impression of? Plus, how much could you really get to know someone on a first pass? People are so deep and complex, more information and a longer window to make judgements can only be a good thing. I mean, imagine if you could only hire employees based on resumes--no interviews, no trial periods...just a small bit of superficial information that corralates little to the lifetime value of what this person can bring to the table.

That's why I'm excited about Path 101' ability to help people get to know themselves better in relation to career discovery, because it will also allow potential employers to get to know them better as well.