Companies need to manage their reputation, and so do individual professionals. Companies have to manage the reputation of their products, and when it comes to your career, you are the product. Here are three things to help you manage your professional reputation:
1. Produce content with intention.
Whether it is your work product or online content, everything you say and write shapes how people perceive you. That is, your reputation is based on the content you produce. What you say is an external reflection of what you know and think and who you are.
Be thoughtful with the information you project, from what you write in internal memos to your LinkedIn posts online. The formal and social content you produce influences people’s perceptions.
2. Take strategic action.
The actions you take or don’t take also influence how people see you. For example, taking opportunities to work at a startup, in a volatile industry or start you own business may give people the impression that you are comfortable with risk. People may think you care less about titles than you do about being challenged in new areas and that you can handle uncertainty. Alternatively, if you are progressing through the ranks within one organization over the course of many years, people may assume that you prioritize job security.
Neither approach is right or wrong. In fact, some who have been at a particular organization for many years are itching to enter an emerging space that may be riskier and vice versa. When people see these experiences on your resume, words on the page may not convey the whole story. Your job is to communicate what you want out of your career to manage how people see you and where you want your career to go.
3. Know what other people say about you.
Your network matters. Networks don’t just function as an opportunity for you to go to other people for advice and insight. Networks are opportunities for people to come to you for jobs. Cultivating your network is critical to helping you be presented with opportunities that can shape and advance your career.
Get a sense of what others think about you. Ask, “In what subject areas do you see me as an expert?” “What are a few skills that come to mind when you think about me?” “What could I improve upon?”
Understanding how your network sees you can help you project the type of professional you want to be. To be clear, in asking your network to get a better understanding of how people perceive you, you are not trying to figure out how to be liked or someone that you are not. You are using this as supplemental information to help you figure out how to project the best version of yourself.
Your career advancement depends on your reputation. How people perceive you will influence the opportunities that may be presented to you. Be intentional with the content you produce, take thoughtful action and be aware of what others think about you.