career advice, career management, Careers, personal brand management, Personal Branding

What Are They Saying About You?

Mary Rosenbaum | May 1st, 2013

I started thinking a lot about reputation recently after I was interviewed for a piece on personal branding by reputation.com. The idea that your reputation can make or break you has 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 just a numbers game?

HOW DOES YOUR REPUTATION SPREAD?

How many degrees of separation?

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.

An important way reputations are solidified is through word of mouth buzz. The fact that we are all linked by six degrees of separation is probably an understatement in a world where our links have grown exponentially through social media.

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 employers, clients, colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors.

So how do you learn what others think of you?

Something I have learned over the years is 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 as they see it.  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 personal brand and your reputation.  After all, it’s difficult to measure “how am I doing?” if you don’t have the right measuring stick.

If you have honest feedback these are questions you should be able to answer:

– 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 personal brand?

– Does my personal brand reflect my short and long term professional aspirations? Or will it hold me back?

Your reputation precedes you.

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.

Questions you might ask yourself include:

– Does my LinkedIn profile point directly at my personal brand?

– 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’re 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.

Want to learn more about gaining insight into how other people see you and how to strengthen your reputation and personal brand? Contact me.