While the importance of a good reputation is not new, the environment in which you are working to build a good reputation is. Twenty years ago, your reputation as a business professional was confined to the experiences of individuals with whom you interacted within your organization or shared experiences with at industry meetings. The relationships with your colleagues were as stable as your work environment – these were the same folks you had been working with or had known for years. Perhaps your reputation expanded outside of your cloistered circle of colleagues when you spoke at national industry events or published an article or research paper. Beyond that, few individuals knew who you were, let alone had an opinion about your reputation.
Today, chaos and change rule the day. The frequency and pace of change defines the “new normal” in corporations around the globe. Your ability to build strong relationships over time is becoming harder. The individuals with whom you worked yesterday are gone today. Lines of responsibility are blurring. The number of new people with whom you come in contact both physically and virtually is growing weekly.
At the same time, you are changing faster than ever. In their book, The Start-Up of You, authors Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha suggest that you need to always be in “beta” mode in order to survive and succeed in today’s fast-paced and frenetic corporate environments. They encourage you to “think of yourself as a work-in-progress” and “invest in yourself every single day.” These never-ending and fast-paced changes define the professional environments you find yourself in today. However, always being in “beta” creates its own set of challenges. Recurring ways in which you change in the midst of fast-changing environments can create risk to your reputation.