Building your reputation is hard work, it takes time and commitment, but will certainly be worth it.
If you have a reputation for being a tough negotiator, you will influence the other party before you even meet them. Your reputation will precede you. They will be expecting a hard time, they will be working harder on their strategy and even harder on their alternatives. They may even be expecting to get a poor deal and this may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
They will certainly be more stressed and their performance might nosedive the moment they meet your cool, expressionless face — or worse, that charismatic (or enigmatic) smile. Yes, your reputation may influence them to bring their heavy hitters to meet you head on. Brilliant, another opportunity to strut your stuff and boost your credibility.
At the other end of the spectrum, a reputation for being kind, considerate and trustworthy will bring many people knocking on your door. Your intelligence about what is really going on in the organisation will give you significant advantages not available to the hard-nosed people around you. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but your approachability will keep you in the loop. More importantly, it will build stronger relationships and loyalty across the organisation.
How to Build and Strengthen Your Reputation
If you want to take this seriously, you need to consider six areas as you plan action to make it happen.
- Culture: Make sure you know the culture of the organisation you want to establish and build your reputation in. This awareness will help you see what will work and what won’t. Unless the reputation you build will be respected and valued, you are probably wasting your time.
- Distinction: For a reputation to be really useful, it has to be distinctive in the environment where it has to do its work. Don’t settle for being boring and professional; find a way to really stand out from the crowd. This also means you need to be unambiguous in what you want others to expect of you.
- Substance: There is always a gap between perception and reality, but you need to make sure that it is small. If you cannot live up to your reputation, you are heading for a fall. Always make sure to focus on the performance which backs up your reputational aspirations.
- Visibility: You have to ensure that people notice you. Let people see you perform and keep your focus on the attributes and behaviours which will maximise the chance that they will recognise what you want them to.
- Connections: Reputations don’t work very well in isolation, they need a network of supporters, fans and advocates to spread the word. Getting others to sing your praises is far more effective than you trying to do it yourself. It is also good to associate with others who have strong reputations which complement your own.
- Tenacity: Consistent and relentless focus on the performance which leads to the desired reputation is essential. Trying to be one thing today and another thing tomorrow will confuse people and probably make them think you are unreliable (not a good reputation to have). So, decide now and then year by year continue to climb.
As you reflect on the topics above you should quickly decide on the action you can begin to take in order to strengthen your reputation. An early action might be simply to brainstorm about what you actually want people to think about you. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you decide to do something towards building within your capability the power of reputation.