22873766I was a keynote speaker at an event last weekend where I discussed networking. Soon after I started, I asked the room how many people knew what people said about them when they were not around. Surprisingly, only one person raised her hand. Of course, she happened to be a high level executive who already had a firm grasp of her career path. Nobody else, however, raised their hand. If got me wondering how many people really pay enough attention to their brand and reputation.

I’ve stressed countless times through articles, on my radio show and speaking engagements that people need to determine (and monitor) their brands before others define it for them. Let’s forget for a moment, that promoting yourself and networking are important elements to building your brand. But did you know that if you don’t implement the right strategy you could be damaging your reputation?

I have clients who are so excited to start building their network and implementing strategies we discussed, that they forget all the rules of engagement I gave them. For instance, I share with all my clients (and listeners and readers) how I made a conscious decision to keep up with my network. I send out a quarterly email letting people know what I’m up to and and asking them to share what they’re up to. Well, one young man took this advice to the next level. He was looking for a job and decided to use my idea…only he sent an email EVERY SINGLE WEEK. How do you think this was received? Exactly. The first two email I received, I thought, great he’s taking initiative. After that it was spam. I emailed him and gave him some constructive criticism and told him his frequent email was turning people off. He was appreciative of the email and changed his frequency. Unfortunately, it damaged his credibility.

Another incident was a young woman who was extremely anti-social at work. She felt the only thing she needed to do was show up for work, get her job done, go home and do it all over again until Friday came. She argued me down and said that her work was so impressive that it stood on its own. She didn’t need to “schmooze” with her co-workers. A year went by and she didn’t get any additional projects nor did she get the raise and promotion she hoped for. Upon some investigative digging, it was revealed that her standoffish nature eliminated her from the running.

Ladies, I don’t make these things up nor do I share them just to be nice. You MUST, absolutely MUST take control of your reputation. You should be getting feedback from everyone you know professionally. It is important that you understand how people perceive you and receive your brand. Ask for honest feedback on areas you may need to improve. But don’t stop there, accept the honesty without attitude and work on it. It takes a long time to build a solid reputation, but only minutes to destroy it. Be careful how you represent yourself and how others represent you. Focus on building up the positive aspects and improving the negative.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham