A Great Reputation Is Your Best Asset

great reputation

This post was originally published in 2016. In light of the recent college admissions scandal, I felt it needed to be republished with minor updates. David Singer, the parents who hired him, the coaches who sold their reputations for money, the proctors who helped students cheat on their ACTs and SATs have destroyed their reputations and quite possibly those of the unknowing students who benefited from their actions.

In life, there are very few things that you do where you can’t get a second chance. There is, however, one notable exception: your reputation. Creating a great reputation takes practice, hard work, consistency and time. Seth Godin, author and branding guru, said it well in a recent blog post: “Early assumptions about you are sticky and are difficult to change.”

Because a great reputation may be the single most valuable asset you can possess, you need to be diligent in your choices and actions. A positive reputation is important at all stages of your career, whether you are just embarking on your post collegiate job search or are well into your career.

It only takes a Twitter second for your bad act to go viral in the digital era. If you are job searching, your reputation is critically important. Consequently, there’s a reason employers ask for references. They want to hear about the “real” you.

Ninety-three percent of hiring managers review a candidate’s social media profile prior to making an offer  and seventy percent of recruiters have passed on a candidate based on a search of social media.

If you haven’t done so, Google your name from an incognito browser. You may be very surprised by what you find. Next, delete anything that would cause an employer to reconsider your job readiness.

It takes years of hard work, consistency, and integrity to build a positive reputation. Lose it and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever get it back. Just ask Ryan Lochte. One night of bad acting followed by poor judgment instantly cost him one million dollars in lost endorsements, along with his reputation, which will cost him much more over time.

Here are 16 simple tips to help you create, and keep, a great reputation:

  1. Be ethical. Always do the right thing. It’s never the wrong decision.
  2. Be kind. It’s far easier to be nice than nasty. The “likeability” factor matters. Being nice will further your career faster than being a jerk.
  3. Be truthful. Lying is never acceptable. It often is what convicts crooks and cheats. Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort and Martha Stewart all committed perjury. Their lies are what ultimately brought them down.
  4. Be responsive. Respond quickly to emails, text messages, and voice mails. “Quickly” is defined by the sender, not you, and varies based on the communication medium. Texts are like Tweets. They go stale in 15 minutes. Emails and voice mails should be returned within the same day.
  5. Be on time. Being late is a sign of disregard for the other person’s time.
  6. Be calm. If you are in a situation and you realize it’s going south, take a deep breath or excuse yourself. Blowing up is rarely appreciated or effective. No one likes “crazy” in the workplace.
  7. Be kind. It’s far easier to be nice than nasty. The “likeability” factor matters. Being nice will further your career faster than being a jerk.
  8. Be consistent. If your boss or co-workers never know “which you” is going to show up at work, your career will suffer. When you move up the management ranks, you learn that your bad days are yours alone and best left at home.
  9. Be patient. This is easier said than done. Often the right decision is one that is made after getting more information and understanding all the facts before acting. I love the expression “the truth lies somewhere in between.” Rarely is any decision black or white.
  10. Be gracious. Merriam-Webster defines gracious as “being polite in a way that shows respect”. If someone needs to give you bad news, take it politely and professionally. Likewise with a compliment. A simple “thank you” is the best response.
  11. Be sincere. When you make a mistake, apologize sincerely. A real apology is not about you. It’s about the other person. It is not about your intent; it’s about your impact. Acknowledge your impact.
  12. Be responsible. Own up to your mistakes and correct them. How you act after you’ve made a mistake says a lot about you.
  13. Be respectful. Everyone, regardless of his or her role, title or background, is worthy of respect. Don’t adjust your behavior based on your perception of how important someone is or what they can do for you.
  14. Be thankful. Say thank you, genuinely, and often, to everyone who helps you. If you aren’t saying thank you at least once daily, then you aren’t paying enough attention. Chances are many of the people around you are helping you in ways both big and small.
  15. Be dependable. Do what you say you will do. Don’t just do it on time, do it well. Over deliver and do it better, and earlier, than you said you’d do it.
  16. Be grateful. A good life is a privilege, not a right.

You earn your reputation every day, through your words and your actions. Embrace these 16 tips and you’ll be on your way to creating a great reputation, the best asset you can have, and one that will pay dividends over your entire career and your life.

About Lisa

Chief Career Catalyst @C2C, former Fortune 500 businesswoman, dog lover, avid skier, mediocre tennis player, golfer, new SUPer, aspiring surfer, cyclist, yoga & exercise enthusiast, happy wife & home chef. I am a regular contributor to the Bangor Daily News, and have appeared on WCSH6 where I offer career advice for college students, recent graduates and young professionals.
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