Lot’s of articles have been written about the importance of a company’s online reputation… how to create it, revise it, overcome its negatives, accentuate its positives, compare it to competitors, how much time and money should be budgeted for promoting it, etc. etc. etc. but there are far fewer articles on the critical importance of building and promoting your own personal reputation. And depending on where you are in the business cycle, your personal reputation may possibly be the single most important factor in getting you that life-changing meeting with a key person you want to work for you, buy from or even invest in you. And yes, make no mistake about it, all these people are investing “in you” even more so than in your business.
Obviously, if you’re a doctor, attorney, financial advisor, architect or do any kind of custom or personal work, like a building contractor or artist, your business reputation and your personal reputation are closely aligned.
But what if you’re just starting out? Your company has no reputation and, for the most part neither do you… except for those embarrassing photos you posted online that are now coming back to haunt you. And if you’re an entrepreneur and are going to meet with prospective employees, suppliers, investors or clients, your personal reputation or at least what people can find out about you online is probably a lot more important than you ever imagined. So what are you doing to create it, shape it, enhance it and promote it?
If you’re like most people, you’re doing absolutely nothing. You treat your reputation like the weather, you know it’s important when something extreme happens like a hurricane or snowstorm and you dress appropriately or adjust your travel plans but for most days, you don’t pay any attention to it whatsoever… and that’s a huge mistake.
Start by doing a Google search of your name. Now you see what strangers see. Since they don’t know you, their opinion is going to be 100% based on what they just found… whether it’s accurate or not or flattering or demeaning.
What do you think of yourself? Write a short summary of who you are… not who you really are but who people think you are based on what you just found.
Did you find someone who is smart, dependable, innovative, honest, charismatic, hardworking, trustworthy and inspiring? Is the online you a leader or a follower? A future success story or a disaster about to happen? A winner or a loser? Someone who inspires confidence or a confidence man?
If you don’t like what you just found, you better get to work on improving your online persona until it is in sync with the real you or at the very least, the “you” you hope to project because until then, your chances of raising money, getting people to work for you, follow your advice or even buy from you are slim.
Yes, we live in a technological society. We all carry a little computer in our pockets or on our belts. We use it to get directions, research products before we buy them, see what and where our friends are, make telephone calls, send texts, check e-mails and yes, even check on the weather. In short, we’re now connected to just about everything and everyone 24/7 and despite all those connection, we’ve become more isolated than ever. We have hundreds of friends on Facebook that we check on multiple times a day but our very best friend we haven’t had dinner with in weeks. We attend webinars several times a week, we take and post an untold number of “selfies,” we take visual tours of an apartment we plan to rent or a home we’d like to buy but we’re too busy to spend time with relatives or visit a museum or enjoy a concert… and now we’re anxiously anticipating the day when we can get even further away from reality in anticipation of Oculus Rift’s Virtual Reality, Google’s Augmented Reality and the latest soon to be escape… Magic Leap’s “Mixed Reality.”
Check back for part two of this blog to learn how to build and promote your own brand. In the meantime, I suggest reading “Seven Specific Things Entrepreneurs Must Do Right Now to Build Their Reputation, Grow Their Business, and Control Their Life.”