Having a good professional reputation is very important. When others think highly of us, it makes our lives a little easier. Our good ideas are ushered in with greater ease because people believe in us and in our contributions. Our mistakes go over a little more smoothly too, because we’re more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. A positive professional reputation could help you make important connections, strengthen the network you already have, or even earn a promotion. So, here are some quick tips for managing yours — no matter where you stand today. A little effort toward improving your professional reputation could go a long way toward supporting you in your career.
Always try to actually do the right thing.
Managing our professional relationships and the way others see us isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The first step toward having a good reputation is doing the things that earn you one. So, try to do the right thing at work, especially when it comes to other people. The best way to prove you are considerate, hardworking, etc., is to actually be considerate, hardworking, etc. Don’t try to put something past someone else, or shirk a duty. Instead, always strive to act with integrity. If you’re truly concerned with improving your professional reputation, act like it every chance you get.
If you want to strengthen your professional reputation, you’ll also want to avoid certain behaviors. Doing the right thing only gets you so far if you’re doing the wrong things too. One of the most toxic behaviors, in any setting, is negativity. And, for obvious reasons, negative people don’t tend to have the greatest professional reputations. So, no matter how tired or frustrated you may be, be careful to not lead with negative behaviors like complaining. Instead, focus on trying to find solutions to problems or a different way to look at things.
When you make a mistake — apologize.
The old cliché about everyone making mistakes is true. So when you mess up (not if — because you’re human) do the right thing and apologize. Taking full responsibility for your actions could help you turn lemons into lemonade here — it takes a certain maturity and confidence to properly own up to errors and move on from them.
If you want to have a great professional reputation, than you’re going to have to go further than just doing a good job. Instead, attempt to go a step above and beyond the call of duty. Small gestures, like a handwritten thank-you note after a great meeting, or sticking around a little late to help a colleague, will help improve how others see you and strengthen your professional reputation. Merely doing what’s expected isn’t quite enough to improve how others see you.
Building trust with others and maintaining it isn’t easy, and it isn’t simple either. You should carefully consider your actions and your words, as both are powerful and can impact how much others trust you. Also, don’t forget to be aware of how you carry yourself physically. Certain behaviors, like the right level of eye contact, a smile, and an open stance, actually help demonstrate trustworthiness. Be careful to send the right signals.
Reputations take time to build, and they take even longer to change. So, if you’re attempting to establish yourself with a new set of people, or if you’re trying to reverse a less-than-ideal reputation, have patience. These things don’t happen overnight. But, if you are consistent, you’ll make progress and begin to gain some ground slowly but surely. However, you should be prepared for the fact that it could take months before you start to see real changes.
“The stronger the impression, the longer it’s going to take to change,” Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You, told Harvard Business Review. “Just think: If you begin now, you can begin to start turning the tide.”
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