Improve Your Reputation, Improve Your Life

In your work as in life, your reputation is your personal currency. But what is reputation and why is it important?
Your actions + what others say about you = your reputation. This simple formula, may be the most powerful leverage you have in your professional and personal life.

Whether it’s a vendor cutting you a great deal, a hiring manager considering offering you a position, or someone with purchasing power, others often decide your fate. All it takes is a small sway from a trusted contact to either get you in or push you out. In today’s highly-competitive workplace, reputation makes a difference.

When it comes to your reputation, hoping for the best isn’t good enough. It leaves it in the hands of others. Your reputation needs to be shaped and managed so it reflects the way you want to be viewed.

Today, we have to think more about reputation management than we did in the past. Not only do we have to worry about how we present ourselves in the flesh, but we also have to be aware of how we come across online.

To create a strong reputation currency, here are 20 ways to go about deliberately shaping how others see you:

1. Keep your word. Meet deadlines. Do what you say. Your word is your promise. When you tell someone that you will be somewhere at a certain time, be there a few minutes early. Turn in your assignments by the deadline, no excuses. One of the best things that you can be is a person of your word.

2. Come up with ideas to improve something. It isn’t that most people don’t have ideas; it’s simply they’re afraid to present them — what will people think? Maybe it’s stupid. Take a chance. You’ll be surprised.

3. Express gratitude to someone who helps. We all get busy and move from one thing to another, and before we know it, several people have offered us their assistance. That's the way it is in our office. Perhaps, but make it a point to say thanks.

4. Be consistent. You need to show the same great qualities to everyone you meet everyday, bad days included. If you are great in one setting and nasty, rude, and/or cold in other environments, your reputation will suffer. People are willing to share negative experiences much more readily than positive ones. And as you know, negativity can spread like wildfire.

5. Pitch in when someone is out. Pick up the slack. Whether it’s taking messages, answering questions, or solving a problem, it says you have their back. It won’t be forgotten.

6. Ask questions. We’ve all been in meetings where stuff goes by that’s new, unclear or confusing. Ask a question. Don’t assume you’re the only one who didn’t get it. It shows you’re thinking.

7. Try not to complaint. When there’s nothing else to do, it’s complain time, particularly at lunch or after work. Complaining can be toxic, and those who do it put their reputation at risk.

8. Welcome new co-workers. There’s a reason to be the first: first impressions are indelible and you will be remembered.

9. Provide exceptional customer service. Look at these as opportunities, not interferences. They’re memorable. Customers like to talk about the times when someone went out of their way and did something special for them.

10. Give credit to others. It seems as if it diminishes us if we make a point to give a “shout out” to a co-worker. But just the opposite is true. It says we understand what it means to be a team player.

11. Offer suggestions so others don’t trip themselves up. “Would it be helpful to look at it this way?” or “Have you considered other possibilities?” Such questions can help rescue someone from stepping off a cliff, from making an unnecessary mistake. They won’t forget it.

12. Admit it when you’re wrong. It’s easy to say, “Everybody makes mistakes” or “I’m just human” when we get something wrong. But passing it off is quite different from taking ownership and saying, “I was wrong.” Both impact one’s reputation.

13. If you spot a problem, propose a solution. Identifying problems is a popular workplace pastime. Coming up with possible solutions, not so much. Show initiative. One is seen as complaining, the other as being helpful.

14. Step back to get a bigger picture. What’s going on right around us holds our attention, blinding us to the bigger picture, distorting our thinking, and causing us to react inappropriately. It helps to step back so we can see more clearly.

15. Pay attention to details. Nothing is more disruptive, embarrassing and frustrating than the wrong address or price, a phone number that’s one digit off, a misspelling or something that was left out. Reputations are made on accuracy; the opposite is also true.

16. Don’t make excuses. It’s quite simple: the opposite of making excuses is taking responsibility. Either way, there’s a reward, one you want and one you don’t.

17. Avoid having someone remind you. Digital calendars and reminders should eliminate the need for someone to remind us. It hasn’t. The offenders are just more visible.

18. Be honest. Don't use your work time for personal pursuits. Keep personal phone calls to a minimum. Don't use your work computer to check your personal facebook account. Show your employer that you can be trusted, and you may be rewarded with more responsibility, resulting in a raise or promotion, or both.

19. Welcome challenges. If all we know is what we’re doing now at work, we’re coasting. When we dare to step out of our comfort zone and take risks, we do more than just holding a job.

20. Take on extra work. Sure, you’ve got more than enough on your plate, so why pile on anything more? It lets you demonstrate your ability to shoulder a heavier load. And that doesn’t go unnoticed.

Practice these traits in your everyday life will make you the kind of person people will remember. The people in your life who demonstrate most or all of these traits are probably the people you hold in the highest regard. Their reputations precede them (in a good way) and they don’t have to sell themselves or brag, because others are doing it for them. And there is no greater value than a positive reputation, as it will open doors for you that you otherwise never could.

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