Reputation Currency – What’s Yours?
By Natasja Beyleveld, Managing Director of NaMedia
Most of us have been there; the honeymoon phase of either joining or running a fabulous company and team. It’s the bubble wrap protecting the brand-new delivery of your long-expected gift to self. You look and feel great. It rubs off.
It wears off if we’re not careful. Long-term reputation management effectively means that you’re consistently investing in your ‘reputation account’ to draw from during crisis (or perceived crisis).
So, what is your reputation?
It’s what you do, and what others say about you. It’s the good stakeholder relations that will build networks and trust. It’s the flames of word of mouth that will burn new pathways or destroy whatever you had.
Today we’re learning from Forbes (forbes.com) and giving you a brief ‘take home’ for the weekend, to continue to improve your own personal public reputation. It’s an asset, even though you can’t necessarily add numbers to it. The CFO may not like this one but will definitely appreciate that the value of a good reputation benchmarks your other most valuable assets. It’s part of the pillars and should be part of your foundation. Forbes reminds us to ‘create a great impression in real life and then leverage that work to create a strong reputation currency online.
Reputation currency. Here are their 10 guidelines we can draw from:
1. Do what you say you’ll do. It sounds so darn simple, but think about it: How many times did you request that your banker send you something, that your assistant pick something up, or that your vendor call you back, to no avail? You then have to remember to follow up and hope that they keep their word. Now think of a time when someone told you they’do something and actually delivered on the promise. You probably think of them as reliable and dependable. You trust them. And in all likelihood, you’d give them a strong recommendation or referral, right? Aim to be that person.
2. Go out of your way to help others reach their goals. Being reputable goes beyond a concern for yourself and your own advancement. Foster a mindset of helping other people. Is your friend’s child in college and looking to get some insights into the business world? Offer to spend some time speaking to him or her to offer guidance and answer questions. Do you know someone in sales who is looking for a deal? Ask them if you can help by making the right introduction. Does one of your colleagues need to leave 30 minutes early for a family commitment? Offer to cover for them.
3. Make other people look good. Have you ever been thrown under the bus? No fun, right? It’s important to find ways to make other people look good (for reasons other than not being a jerk). Did someone refer you to a company as a possible client or for a job? Make sure to make them look great as a thank you! Get there early, be prepared, and follow up accordingly in a timely manner with both parties. By making the referring party look great for introducing you, your reputation continues to grow.
4. Go a step beyond what is expected. Did someone ask for a reference from you? Offer two. Did you say you’d save them 10%? Save them 15%. Did you say you’d follow up in 24 hours? Follow up in 12. If you had a great meeting, send a hand-written thank you note. These small gestures go a long way and will make you stand out.
5. Look the part. Let your appearance instill confidence. An often overlooked and undervalued component to your reputation is your first impression. And like it or not, people make judgements before you open your mouth. Be sure to dress for the environment you’re in. Don’t be too casual. Always err on the side of being too dressy if you aren’t sure of the dress code. Make sure your attire is clean, unwrinkled, fits properly and looks modern. Have your hair groomed, and if you wear make-up, make sure it’s not distracting. Don’t lose your chance to impress someone simply because you don’t look appropriate.
6. Be aware of your body language. Your body language tells people a lot. Make sure you have your body facing your audience, your feet pointed to them, and a tall stance. Nod your head to show agreement, leaning into the conversation at times, and smile here and there. Check out body language expert Vanessa Van Edwards, founder of the Science of People, for some great tips on how your body language speaks on your behalf.
7. Be consistent. Being inauthentic will do you no good if you are not consistent. You need to show the same great qualities to everyone you meet, bad days included. If you are great in one setting and nasty, rude or cold in other environments, your reputation will suffer. People are willing to share negative experiences much more readily than positive ones. And as you know, they can spread quickly.
8. Act with integrity. This should be the foundation of everything you do. In the business world, small acts of greed, selfishness and jealousy can work against you (in ways you may not even notice) and reveal your lack of integrity. If you yourself would not buy the deal you’re selling, don’t sell it. If you know you can’t get back to someone when you promise, that is not being forthright.
9. Get engaged with your community. Your community can be as small as your office or as large as your city. Your engagement will have everything to do with your values and goals. Being engaged means getting to know people, giving back your time and resources, and being available.
10. Be likeable. Being likeable directly relates to being you. Smile more, approach someone you don’t know, offer a handshake, or congratulate someone else for his or her achievement. All these small things make you more likeable. Do not be a fake, be genuinely likeable. Be careful not to falsify who you are just to be likeable.
Thank you to Forbes’s Darrah Brustein for these wonderful insights.