Careers, Personal Branding, Sales and Marketing, career advice, career management, entrepreneurs, personal brand management, self employed, small business

It’s Your Reputation, So Handle With Care

Mary Rosenbaum | August 18th, 2011

What are you doing to build, nurture, maintain, and grow your reputation? With all the hype about social media it becomes easy to take your eye off the ball of what really drives your career and your business. Whether you are in sales or some other profession, an entrepreneur or a small business owner, your number one focus should be your reputation. Your reputation includes much more than the work you deliver. It says a lot about you as a person and your company as a reflection of you.

Everyone has heard of word-of-mouth buzz – the holy grail of marketing. Every experience is stored in the mind with a story attached to it. Your brand is only as strong as the stories people tell about it. The stories we spread are either about what really upsets us or what makes us really happy. Maintaining and growing your reputation, your brand, depends on the stories that reflect the positive results rather than the negative surprises.

This summer I had an opportunity to work with a number of small businesses and service providers across a variety of industries. On a scale of 1-10 very few would receive a score higher than 6 and there were three that fell well below 5. Would I recommend them to others? Not in good conscience. Are there stories based on these experiences that I pass along that are less than flattering? Yes.

So what did they do wrong? The bottom line was that the experience of working with them was so unpleasant that it became memorable, in a negative way. So in spite of the fact that they ultimately completed their respective assignments the word-of-mouth buzz was not positive.

But we can all learn from their mistakes. Here are my suggestions for actions you can take to help you maintain a strong personal brand and a stellar reputation.

1. Manage expectations and eliminate negative surprises. If you find yourself unable to deliver on time or deliver what is expected, keep your client or your boss informed as quickly as possible. By managing expectations and keeping them in the loop you involve them in the process, are able to ask for their input, and make them partners in your success.

2. Tell the truth. There is nothing worse than losing your credibility. It’s not great to have to deliver bad news but if you lie and are found out you risk losing a lot more than if you told the truth. And the reality is, you will be found out eventually.

3. Communicate regularly and keep everyone informed of your progress. Returning phone calls in a timely fashion is imperative in maintaining a good relationship. Especially when you have bad news to deliver because no news is worse than bad news. Keeping your clients or managers in the dark by simply dodging their calls or emails only raises their internal barometer and puts them closer to exploding rather than understanding.

4. Under-promise and over-deliver. When pitching business or a project make sure your proposals and time frame are realistic, the results attainable and the ultimate costs in line with your experience and their needs or budgets. Failing to deliver on promise because of poorly thought out or researched proposals and strategic plans will not help you build strong and lasting relationships with your clients, your managers, and your colleagues.

If you communicate and collaborate with integrity and honesty you will all have a better experience working together. Mistakes happen, issues occur, and circumstances change. Unless you take ownership and step up to accept responsibility your brand will diminish in the eyes of those who work with you or your company. And you can bet on it – they will spread the word.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum empowers careerists and entrepreneurs to gain greater clarity and more effectively communicate their unique promise of value. Strong leadership means leading with your strengths. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

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