In our uber-connected world the opinion of others plays a major role in shaping the future of your success. Your professional reputation follows you everywhere and influences how people perceive you, judge your abilities and ultimately transact business. It takes years to develop a great one and one bad choice to ruin it.
10 Ways to Boost Your Professional Reputation
1. Be nice. An incredibly successful business coach had just stepped down from the stage and at the time I was seriously considering her as my next coach. During the conference break the introvert in me searched out a quiet patio to get away from the crowds, only to find the speaker deep in a heated phone conversation with an employee. Although I immediately made a u-turn , I was there long enough to hear her swear at the person on the other end of the line and call him/her stupid for not handling a task to her liking. That was the end of my interest in working with her. She was disingenuous- being warm and engaging with the event coordinators and prospective clients, but rude to someone she worked with on a daily basis.
Show respect and kindness to everyone. Not just the head of the company, but also the servers, support staff and the young woman who sells you coffee each morning. Treat everyone with respect simply because it’s the right thing to do.
2. Keep your word. It has become more the exception than to the rule to experience someone who consistently keeps their word. It may be as simple as following up with an individual you met at a networking event to schedule coffee or sharing your favorite pie crust recipe with your cousin. As a fifth generation entrepreneur, this ethic was instilled in me from very early on in my life. Consistently keeping your word builds trust and people will learn that they can count on you, period. More importantly, keeping your word to yourself builds that inner trust, which in turn builds confidence. Applying this principle requires strong boundaries and being willing to say, “no” or “not yet” when your schedule does not allow. We tend to want to help everyone, which results in over promising and under delivering.
3. Make great recommendations. Have you ever asked for the manager of an establishment to pay a compliment, only to have them immediately ask you what was wrong? A sad state. Focus on where others excel rather than complain about what you don’t like. Look for ways to praise. Take that a step further and write a LinkedIn recommendation or offer a reference. Being proactive about making recommendations shows others you value and respect them. When you focus on what they’ve done right, they will be more likely to do the same for you.
4. Look for ways to refer. As Managing Director of eWomenNetwork in Orange County, it has become second nature to refer as much business as I possibly can. I make a point to refer at least five people per week. Most weeks it’s more like 10. Being mindful about those referrals is crucial to building a great reputation. Be certain that the service and products you’re referring meet the standard of excellence, because that referral will reflect on you and your reputation. Take a look at my Dos & Don’ts of Successful Networking.
5. Edify. Have you ever come up with a brilliant idea only to have someone else take the credit for it? When you highlight the contributions of others it enhances your integrity. It is important to acknowledge those who have played a role in your achievements and make them look good. True leaders understand that they never lose credit when they share the glory of their accomplishments with those who have helped them along the way.
6. Act with urgency. Your customer or client’s emergency is your emergency. Be a professional who addresses every task in a timely and intentional manner and see it through to the end. Don’t be satisfied unless you are certain your customer is. When you take action while the details are still fresh in your mind, you’ll do so more effectively.
7. Unwavering integrity. Your business reputation is everything and building a good one means that you always do the right thing, especially when no one is watching. President Eisenhower highlighted the power of leadership and integrity in this statement, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office”.
8. Education based marketing. No doubt you’ve experienced someone who immediately sells/pitches their products/services without first adding the value of their expertise. I’m sure you’d agree that is a total turn off. Position yourself as a generous expert and that may be all the advertising you need. Openly share your expertise and let them come to you for more. That’s when you can begin charging fees.
9. Be a thought leader. Take a deep dive into your very specific field of excellence by learning everything you can. One thing I learned very early on in my professional career was to be that student sitting in the front row furiously taking notes- something I learned that from Jack Canfield’s sterling example. In addition, don’t be the professional has a wide range of expertise. Would you hire an orthopedic surgeon to do a skin graft? No way. Stick to your lane. Looking like a leader matters, too. Take a look at my post on how to Look Like a Leader.
10. Constantly Improve. Take every opportunity to poll your clients and business associates on how you are performing. Your customers will appreciate your dedication to excellence. Although it may seem daunting it’s necessary to reach new levels of excellence. Your customers will appreciate it and be more invested in your success when you include them in that process.
Ok… I couldn’t stop at just 10, so here are two bonuses. 🙂
BONUS 1: Be likeable. Being likable is smiling warmly and openly welcoming or approaching someone you may not know. Stand out from the barrage of emails and social media by congratulating others on their successes with a hand written card. Your reputation will precede you so others will be more open and you won’t need to sell yourself- others will do it for you. Being likable is an extremely valuable trait and will open doors for you.
BONUS 2: Serve others. There is no better way to boost your reputation than to support a worthwhile philanthropic organization. Choose one that you are passionate about because you’ll be serving others in a way that matters to you personally, it will naturally tie into your personal brand and your participation will be easy to sustain over the long haul.
Having a good reputation is something that is earned over time by consistent behavior. It will afford you many opportunities, you’ll be highly recommended and invited to participate in circumstances that will advance your career. You’ll be liked and most of all people will want to help and be associated with you.