“Reputation is the currency of networking and referrals.”
- Scott Allen
A positive reputation is one of our most valuable business assets and is built mostly on one thing: happy customers. What if you don’t have happy customers yet? What if you’re new in business or new to the area? How do you build a reputation without customers -- and on a limited budget?
Find a local networking group that you can join and attend on a regular basis. Face-to-face interaction will build strong relationships and present unexpected opportunities. (Mine is The Group Halifax.) Online networking has other benefits, such as being able to do it in your PJ’s.
When meeting someone, have their cell phone number in case you’re delayed. Leave a few minutes early. Take a pen and paper for notes. Find out about new contacts by reading their website, blog and LinkedIn profile. NEVER be caught without a business card!
Keep Your Word
Follow up with people you meet. Take notes about commitments you make. Be dependable –- do what you say you will do!
Be of real help to others by giving your time and expertise freely. (Of course, if your business provides services, you have to clearly define boundaries.) Helping someone else accomplish something will build a strong relationship.
Maintain a professional appearance, both in person and online. Have a consistent visual style for your business. Proofread thoroughly; keep information up-to-date –- the devil is in the details! Dress appropriately. Wear well-fitting and wrinkle-free clothes. Pay attention to personal hygiene.
Keep in mind: it takes a lot of positive experiences to build your reputation, but only one negative to knock it down. Be consistent!
Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on May 17, 2011