As you read the following quotes, consider how you would feel about the people referenced. Would you want to do business with them?
- “She never returns calls or emails—it’s really hard to do business with her.”
- “He charges some customers more for projects if he thinks they have money.”
- “He never pays his company bills on time…it’s a nightmare to get paid.”
- “She drank too much at a networking event and shared confidential information.”
- “He exaggerates and takes credit for everything to make himself look better.”
- “She’s on her Facebook page all day at work—how does she get anything done?”
- “He looks good online but he’s a jerk in real life.”
Now ponder how you would feel if you learned people were saying these things about you.
The sad news is that those statements are based on real chatter in our local business community. People took note of character behaviors and they told their friends and family…and those personal brand conversations had a negative impact on the reputation of individuals and the companies they work for. Ouch.
Why does your personal brand matter?
Your brand/reputation consists of what people read about you and say about you both online and in person. It is how others describe your character to your face and yes, even when you’re not around.
A solid personal brand is a tremendously valuable asset that should be protected and developed – whether you’re a college grad looking for your first job or an industry rock star with 20+ years’ experience.
How to ruin your reputation in business.
In a recent Huffington Post article, author Lisa Larter wrote about “Five Ways To Ruin Your Reputation In Business.” Here’s a quote from the article that speaks to the importance of maintaining a positive personal reputation:
“Your reputation is a reflection of your character. We’re all human and we all make mistakes but if these five ways to ruin your reputation in business are the norm for you, you’re in trouble. Your character impacts your reputation and your reputation affects your brand and your brand affects people’s decisions to do business with you. It’s that simple.”
Have you thought about how your personal reputation and character influence consumers? This is important stuff—if your personal reputation is not great, you have some work to do if you want to take your business to the next level.
Here are some solid tips for improving your personal reputation based on the quotes shared at the start of this article.
7 ways to build your personal brand.
- Be approachable. Make it easy for peers, vendors and consumers to communicate with you. Reply to emails, answer the phone or have a real person do it for you.
- Be fair. Price gouging some customers because you think you can squeeze more money out of them is just not right—you don’t want a reputation for this type of behavior. Set rates and prices that are fair and consistent for all.
- Be a good customer. Be nice to vendors, suppliers and service providers—pay your bills on time or even a bit early. Those you hire are consumers too and they talk to friends and family that may be your future customers. Paying promptly helps ensure they will speak positively of you instead of telling others you are a terrible customer.
- Keep moderation in mind when socializing for work. Nobody wants to be the one who overindulged at the company Christmas party or at a networking event. Consider setting a one drink limit so there’s no chance you’ll slip up.
- Set up social media boundaries. Unless you are a professional social media manager your employer isn’t paying you to be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram during work hours. No excuses. Limiting activity on those accounts to break times will show others you are there taking care of business, not taking advantage of your employer.
- Be honest and humble. Tell the truth, honestly share your thoughts and opinions and don’t exaggerate your importance. If you work on a team or with a partner give credit where credit is due.
- Don’t be a jerk! Cocky, arrogant, over-confident behavior is a big turn-off. People remember those that make them feel inferior, excluded or like their time is not valuable. If you want to improve your personal reputation try being genuinely friendly, outgoing and inclusive to others—value their time as much as your own.
Keep in mind that working to improve the way others perceive your character and reputation takes time.
If your reputation is terrible now, it will take time for you to change the behaviors that led to that reputation, and it will take time to build trust with those who have experienced the negative side of your brand…but you can do it and you can start right now. Slow, steady and consistent efforts, and real change on your part, will pay off.
For those that need extra help polishing their personal brand and shining a light on new, positive behaviors and practices, Bellingham PR and Communications can help.
We help individuals and small businesses in Bellingham, Lynden and Whatcom County slide the reputation measurement gauge from negative to positive. Contact us for details.