Your reputation can make or break you and that’s never been truer than it is today. And what’s also true is that YOU are in charge of your reputation. Your personal brand, your reputation, is your calling card. It’s what opens doors – or keeps them permanently shut.
Whether you are in your own business or working for someone else, everyone wants and needs to be recommended. Just look at the proliferation of likes, recommends, and follows on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. But do the numbers you rack up on these sites leverage your reputation, your career or your business or is it just a numbers game?
Have you ever been surprised to learn that a meeting or an interview you thought would be a breeze to set up suddenly didn’t happen or was canceled and never rescheduled? Or interviews that went well but never went anywhere afterwards? Yes, sometimes other things happen that halt the process but through my work with clients I have seen these situations be derailed by what I call “bad press.”
The definition of a personal brand is the opinion others hold of you in their hearts and minds. That’s the basis for word of mouth buzz – “good or bad press”.
Word of mouth buzz is viral and can have an even more positive or devastating effect than social media because it’s a direct hit. It lands directly on your immediate target group – potential
I have found that no matter how many times you tell someone to give you an “honest” appraisal of you, your skills, abilities, potential, etc., their response is always somewhat short of the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That’s why it’s important to have a way to independently seek out reviews and appraisals that provide you with the feedback you need to improve and strengthen your reputation. After all, it’s difficult to measure “how am I doing?” if you don’t have the right measuring stick.
There are formal and informal ways in which you can obtain independent appraisals.
1. Many companies today provide avenues for co-workers as well as managers to weigh in on year end appraisals. This is valuable information and should be a great starting point for you to parse through it to look for not only the positive comments but more importantly, those areas where improvement can be made.
2. Conducting your own 360 Feedback by hiring a coach who can help you interpret the results of either in-person or online offerings would be another way to go.
3. And lastly, requests made directly by you to managers and co-workers inside and outside your immediate sphere for honest appraisals in the interest of improving your career prospects would probably yield some valuable information. And the more people you ask, the more accurate your feedback will be.
The value of obtaining honest feedback is gaining a newfound ability to answer the following questions:
- Do people see me the same way I see myself?
- Is my value recognized?
- What needs further highlighting?
- What can or should I give up to strengthen my reputation, my personal brand?
- What do I need to add to my arsenal of skills to enhance and build a stronger reputation?
- Does my reputation, reflect my short and long term professional aspirations? Or will it hold me back?
We all know that social media plays a pivotal role in helping you establish your personal brand. Before I meet anyone, I Google them, and look them up on LinkedIn. I want to know as much as I can about them before our first interaction. And I know I’m not alone in doing this.
Before the first conversation, I already have some opinion about that person. Of course, it’s not complete, but it’s more than just having a name and becomes my starting point for getting to know who they are. Whether the news is good or bad, it’s out there for anyone to read. And therefore it’s important for you to keep track of if and how you come across on social media.
So be honest with yourself when you answer these questions and then fix what isn’t working:
- Does my LinkedIn profile point directly at my personal brand – what I want to be known for?
- Do my profiles and appearances on all social media sites adequately answer the “Why pick me?” question?
- Is there anything on Facebook or any other social media site that can prove embarrassing or somehow diminish my personal brand?
- Am I visible on the web? Do I show up?
- What can I do to increase my visibility on the web that enhances my personal brand?
You are in charge of your personal brand so make sure your reputation MAKES you – not BREAKS you.
For business owners, I wrote a piece for FOX Small Business on reputation that might interest you.
Need help with strengthening your personal brand, contact me.