Personal Branding: Bullet Proof Your Reputation

Mary Rosenbaum | January 11th, 2011

On November 4, 1979 Ted Kennedy was interviewed by Roger Mudd prior to Kennedy’s announcement that he was going to run for President. A five minute segment of that interview changed the course of his political career. After 17 years of service in the Senate and after successfully combating the potential career destroying effects of the car crash on Chappaquiddick in1969, he did in a few minutes what his detractors couldn’t accomplish in years. What happened?

Roger Mudd asked him “Why do you want to be President?” Kennedy, who was known for his ability to think quickly and articulate his thoughts clearly, stumbled through a response that left a huge question mark over his real reasons for running for office. It was clear to everyone who watched that interview that Kennedy was not following his own calling but rather going through the motions based on a script written by someone else.

Those few minutes on television provided an audience of millions the opportunity to see Kennedy respond to the question with an inauthenticity that bordered on deceit. As a result of this interview, he lost his credibility as a viable candidate, his following, and the nomination. He lost the trust of his followers, damaging his reputation through a conspicuous lack of transparency and authenticity. Although he was able to rehabilitate his reputation over his many years of service and was admired and loved for his work, his Presidential aspirations were derailed forever.

Your reputation, your personal brand, reflects who you are in all you do and impacts what people thought of you yesterday and what they will think of you tomorrow. It is character defining. And strong character is what we all look for in those with whom we build relationships. In fact, the definition of character includes:

-the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual

-the strength and originality in a person’s nature

-a person’s good reputation

Reputation is your competitive advantage. A solid reputation not only allows you to be in the game but it influences your ability to get that promotion, win the account, or make the sale.

To be sure you earn a reputation you can be proud of, the values and qualities you want to embody are:

1. Honesty – be who you say you are. In a world where your reputation and past actions can easily be discovered through vast social networks, both online and offline, truth is easier to maintain than fiction. Connecting to your past today is just a mouse click away.

2. Authenticity – stay true to your values, passion and purpose. Living authentically helps you live a more fulfilled life, stay engaged and be at the top of your game because you are doing what you want and you are doing it well. People like to connect with those who are fully engaged and passionate about what they do.

3. Transparency – let them see how you do what you do. Transparency eliminates any questions regarding your purpose or your methods, another building block in developing trust.

4. Providing Merit – deliver what you promise and always make it your best. When you provide value you earn respect, develop relationships and easily build your tribe of supporters.

5. Consistency – delivering on your promise each and every time. Consistency results in building credibility and trust, the foundations of a successful career, business, and personal life.

6. Patience and Perseverance- your reputation is not built in a day. It is earned every day through your actions and behavior. Understanding what your reputation is, how it is growing, and seeking out new ways to improve your behaviors are key to continued success, professionally and personally.

Although it takes a great deal of time to build your reputation, it takes very little time to destroy it. A perfect example of someone who has been unable to rehabilitate a severely damaged reputation and career is Mel Gibson. It took one drunken moment to start the downward spiral his career has taken. Only time will tell whether he can reverse this trend but based on his activities and comments since then, it is doubtful.

So build your character, earn and bullet proof your reputation and you will surely strengthen your personal brand.

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.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru

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