A proactive look at your #1 commodity
When people hear your name, how do they react? Hopefully, it's a positive response. But, what if it’s not?
We’ve all had the experience when the mere mention of someone’s name makes us cringe. Accurate or not, there is a reason why your certain someone triggers such a negative response and why you associate that name with something bad or wrong. It could be because their reputation or brand is untrustworthy, dishonest, lacks integrity, or really just doesn’t appeal to you. And while not everybody is going to like every person, it’s important to know what your own reputation means to others and how to manage your reputation with deliberate care.
Your brand reputation is crucial to your success. It can be more important than marketing, press, or publicity because word-of-mouth is an endorsement that resonates in the hearts and minds of consumers. Your reputation is a commodity that requires daily attention. If you’re not managing it, somebody else will.
Take a three-step audit of your reputation:
Look at what people are saying about you. This task may be as simple as a voluntary survey or something more labor intensive, like doing extensive research. Focus on how you make others feel. When you walk away from a meeting, what are people saying about you? Think about their comments and what it implies about you. For example, you do not want this sort of response: “Jess is very resourceful, but I’m not sure that he has the smarts to take care of this project." You may not always be a perfect match for every project, but you would rather have this sort of reaction: “Jess is smart and capable, but doesn’t have the resources I need.” There's room here to improve.
Examine your social media. What posts are getting the most feedback? What comments do people seem to like? The responses you receive can give you a good idea of the public-facing things you are doing that people might be drawn to and like/ dislike.
Compare public perception against how you want to come across. After you have examined how people speak about you, and how this translates into a word-of-mouth reputation via verbal and digital comments, it’s time to revisit how you want to come across. Do you see yourself in the same way that other people do? If there is a discrepancy, now is the time for you to course correct.
When people speak of you, be in charge of the message that they choose. This requires careful attention and intention.
Here are some key ways to manage your reputation:
Be purposeful. Everywhere you look is a post, image, tweet, or text that can capture you instantly. In many ways you are just like a Hollywood celebrity who is constantly under the spotlight. The difference is they know how to manage their reputations; they take actions to ensure they are seen in the best light possible. You too need to be aware of your audience – your audience sees almost everything you do.
Create your own publicity campaign. Celebrities are able to manage their brands via paid publicists. You can operate as your own publicity manager. Since above you’ve already identified the gaps in public perception, now plan how you are going to change it. Decide what platforms and media you are going to use to build up your reputation.
Be in charge of the narrative. Highlight those qualities that serve you well. For example, “Jess is smart.” Take that belief and add to it. For example, “Jess’ business smarts allowed him to see a gap, so he decided to invest in new equipment or personnel.” When you start to change the narrative, people will gain access to the details that they need to understand that “Jess is resourceful.”
Share the narrative. This is where you can use traditional marketing and publicity to help. Let Influencers know what you are up to, share in your social channels, and use them to go public with your industry peers. You can even offer to partner with people to use your new resource.
It is important not to be complacent about your reputation. The key is to take charge. Be informed of what it is, make sure it aligns with how you want to be seen, and if it is not be proactive in how you will boost your reputation. When you invest in your reputation, people will invest in you. Do not remain silent about what’s new or what is strong about your brand. Be seen. Be heard. Breakthrough.