People develop an impression of the things based on what they have experienced. When you leave a positive impression, you open up many doors of opportunity. A weak reputation, despite great credentials, is enough to close doors and or slow down your progress.
When it comes to reputation, achievements speak louder than words. What you do means much more than what you say about yourself or your work. Reputation is also changeable. It can take years to build a great reputation and only seconds to destroy it.
What do others think when they commit to a meeting hosted by you? Your reputation precedes you, whether it’s good or bad. That reputation enters client, co-worker and one-on-one meetings before you do.
What does your reputation say about you?
A positive reputation has the potential to create momentum in every encounter, establishing the stage for listeners to trust you from the start. It creates a certain level of respect and reliability. It has the power to influence listeners to take your advice, listen to your recommendations and even act on your suggestions. They have an open mind about who you are and how you operate.
A questionable reputation, or one less than positive, predisposes listeners to question you and your ideas. They are more likely to consider alternatives and doubt your credibility or knowledge. Having this type of reputation requires much more work on your part, not only to overcome but to change.
Here is how you can find out the current state of your reputation:
Seek the truth
You’re going to need some help with seeking the truth. For the feedback to be as honest as possible, you’re going to need to have a third party help you out. They will be receiving and collating the feedback before you receive it.
You could ask someone in the HR department, or it could be a coach or mentor from within the organization, or it could be a colleague. Choose someone that the people you are getting feedback from will trust that they can keep a confidence.
When approaching the third party, make it clear what you are asking from them. To be an impartial collector of information and to present it in a way that will help you assess your reputation.
Deal with criticism carefully
Mishandling of events or ungracious handling of criticism can follow you for the year. And no brand or personality, no matter how big, is immune. As Branson puts it: “These days the Virgin brand is trusted globally, so if we set up a venture in a new country, progress is swifter than in the days when we had to win over customers one transaction at a time. But improved communications also mean that any negative story about a Virgin company anywhere can become a global event with the click of a mouse.”
In public relations, best practice is to be proactive – if a company is at fault, own up quickly and apologize. Don’t ever attempt to cover up or deny wrongdoing. With a quick, compassionate and proactive response, your PR disaster could just turn out okay. Handled compassionately, skilfully and quickly, a disaster can be turned into a positive reputation-building exercise.
Develop your desired reputation profile
The key to building a reputation is being consistent in how you follow through on positive behaviors. Think about a popular brand – Starbucks, perhaps. You know you will get a consistent experience each time you enter their establishment.
Every product branded with its logo has a reputation for being consistently high in quality, taste, and delivery. They have built their brand on consistency. The same holds for your brand – your reputation. Every interaction with others requires consistency – from high-stakes presentations to hallway conversations.
Remember, your professional reputation isn’t just about being seen – that’s only one tiny part of it. There are plenty of people with high profiles and zero credibility. Being known and recognized is only useful if you’re known as a smart operator and recognized for remarkable work. You don’t have to be a ‘type’ to excel building your profile, you just need to be congruent, articulate and persistent.