While the importance of a good reputation is not new, the environment in which you are working to build a good reputation is. Here are some suggestions for what to do if you think you may not have a positive reputation at work.
The proliferation of professional transparency is creating new ways for individuals to develop an opinion about you. Information sharing and your reputation are now inextricably combined. You can share information about yourself in endless ways (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging). Most of these do not even require you to be physically present. Individuals that you have never met and may never meet can find information about you faster than ever.
Carl wants to participate – honestly he does
“Oh, no,” Carl says to himself as an email from his boss slowly unfolds before his eyes. “Not another team building offsite!” Like a hungry ant craving a watermelon for lunch, Carl wonders how to digest this news. Blink. Blink. Blink. He stares at the light on his office phone, silently reminding himself that he has messages waiting. Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.
When introducing yourself, do you do so poorly? Perhaps you are inconsistent, inattentive, or under-skilled. Perhaps you don’t value the benefit of a solid introduction. Whatever the reason, your inability to introduce yourself effectively leaves others feeling unimpressed and underwhelmed.
When it comes to introducing yourself to colleagues you don’t know, do you avoid introducing yourself at all costs? Perhaps you are highly uncomfortable or severely under-skilled. Much like getting a flu shot, you want your introduction to be quick and painless. In fact, you wouldn’t introduce yourself to others at all if you could avoid doing so. Do any of the following “Avoider” characteristics seem familiar to you when you think about introducing yourself to others?
It is important to recognize that visibility and value are deeply symbiotic in your organization and industry. You already know that professional risks exist for busy business professionals who are invisible or undervalued in their organization. You do not want to be visible without providing value, and it is hard to demonstrate the value that you provide if you are invisible.
Research tells us that how we define something dictates the activities we subscribe to it. There is a famous example from the turn of the 19th century that illustrates this point. In an effort to change how the public perceived his company, the president of a railroad company declared, “We are not a train company – we are a transportation company!” Suddenly, by viewing his organization as a provider of transportation and not just an owner of trains, he created new customer perspectives and business opportunities.
Networking is, and will continue to be, an important professional activity for business professionals. I previously stated that 60 – 70% of employed individuals located their most recent job opportunity through networking. In a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, these numbers were corroborated when 59% of 1,339 respondents chose the category “by networking with friends and colleagues” as the strategy that led them to their most recent job. Therefore, networking seems to be three times more effective than using an on-line job board and almost three times more effective than using a recruiter.
1. Consider saying something like the following to get the conversation going:
- “Thank you for finding time to speak with me about the value I create for our organization.”
- “I appreciate the information that was shared in my last performance appraisal and I am continuing to focus on the areas of opportunity that we have identified.”