We live immersed in social networks. And we are deeply dependent on them. Because of that, your reputation has practical impact in your life and your career. That makes Reputation one of your most precious assets you have in life. Reputation is more important than your job, house and even money. And it directly affects how you get or maintain all those things.
Reputation is what people believe about you. Although it is not equal to trust, your reputation has a strong relationship with how people trust you and your capabilities.
Although you don’t have full control of how people see you, you nonetheless are able to strongly influence it.
The reputation formula helps you identify the things you can do to increase your reputation in your technology career. It also highlights some things that you can prevent, to reduce the chance of a building a bad reputation.
Let’s examine the formula. We can start with things you can do to increase your Reputation.
7 Things that Grow Your Reputation
Because reputation is what people believe about you, a clear focus helps others understand what you do, and how you can be helpful.
That said, focus is not a technology or even one thing that you do. Focus is the perceived value you can bring to the table, or, what problems you are able to solve.
To increase your reputation, try to articulate clearly what is the problem that you solve, and who benefits from what you do. Having that clear vision will help you have a bigger reputation among those that matter to what you do.
Since reputation is what people believe about you, people need to know about you for you to have a reputation.
That does not mean that you need to be a public figure or a rock star. You need to be visible in the social networks that are important for you.
To build visibility, articulate your message to people that your focus can help. Make sure to integrate yourself with social networks that need and value what you can do.
People that only talk and don’t take action have a low reputation. No one can count on them to solve problems or help the social networks they are part of. Taking action, and gaining experience by doing things, is fundamental to building your reputation.
To increase your reputation, take action on your focus. Make sure you solve problems for you and for others. Become active in your social groups, and make yourself available to take the needed actions.
In the technical world, skill and competence are highly regarded, and play a strong role in how people see you.
Skill and focus go hand in hand. It is hard to associate and identify competence when it is fuzzy and dispersed.
To build your skills, first identify the most important ones related to your focus. Practice them slightly beyond your comfort zone. Force yourself to the point of making mistakes during practice. Yet, keep the mistakes at a controllable level, so you can work inside the sweet spot of skill acquisition.
Be a Giver
People are more receptive to building relationships with those that are helpful. Reputation is associated with the social networks you are part of. Be it your family, friends, work, or social groups. That makes building strong relationships a way to boost your reputation.
Try to be helpful, and support people around you. Use your focus as a guideline on what and how you can help others. Be helpful around your focus will help you increase your skills and your visibility. It will also show your capacity to take action.
Trustworthy people take responsibility for their actions and their commitments. Being responsible increases your reputation and the trust people deposit in you.
Keep on top of what you have committed to do, and make sure you put your share of the effort. Take responsibility for the biggest problem you are able to help with, don’t hide failures, and make sure to ask for help when needed. Also, share the results with others. Those are amazing reputation builders.
When people around you know and are comfortable with how you behave and know what to expect from you, they will see you as consistent and trustworthy. That can be a huge boost to your reputation.
Try to keep consistency in how you treat people, and how you respond to the highs and lows of life, especially in a professional setting. Keep your anger under control and refrain from lashing out. Those inconsistencies are very damaging for your reputation.
Doing those 7 things will show you in a good light, and will influence your reputation in a positive direction. On the other hand, there are things that their mere existence can damage your reputation. Avoid those things as much as possible.
3 Things That Destroy Your Reputation
Me me me
People don’t trust those that only care about themselves. People that only focus on their own needs, and don’t care for the good of the social networks they are part of, will have a lower reputation.
The easy way to spot that are people that talk too much about themselves, that are too much of a “me, me, me” person.
Make sure you focus on others, listen to what they say and care for them. When speaking, avoid talking too much about yourself.
A person that is caught lying loses their reputation very fast, and the news spreads out through the social network.
Always speak the truth, or at least refrain from lying. Specially, drop those small lies that only serve to damage your reputation. Things like the reason why you are late for a meeting, or why you didn’t come to work yesterday. Speaking the truth, or simply apologizing without elaborated false explanation, will be better.
No one likes to work with difficult people… Remember Sheldon, from the Big Bang Theory? Don’t be like him.
Being intransigent. Insisting you are only “speaking the truth.” Not accepting others opinions. Exploding in anger. Avoid all those things that only make people not want to work with you, and bring no value to anyone.
How does the formula work?
All that said, the formula compensates things to a certain degree.
You may be just a little bit visible, yet, take huge responsibility and have amazing skills.
You may not be totally consistent, but you are a strong giver and take lots of focused action.
It is even possible to be a little difficult person to work with. Although that will decrease your reputation, you can compensate for that. For example, with a high level of skill, responsibility and giving help.
Yet… This is just to a certain extent.
If you have zero visibility inside your social groups, your high skill and focus will bring you no results, because no one will see it.
If you are such a difficult liar, that no one wants to work with you… It does not matter how much skill you have, it won’t give you the benefits of a good reputation.
Last, but not least, the Career Reputation Formula focuses on a positive reputation. It is certainly possible to build a negative reputation. If you go that route, even the good things you do will be seen as bad faith and opportunism. I don’t recommend that.
Building a good reputation in your career opens doors. It gets you invited to the best jobs, puts you working together with the top teams and solving the most interesting problems.
All this helps your reputation to grow even more, creating a positive spiral for your career.
If you want to build your career and your reputation, this year me and Heather VanCura launched our book, “Developer Career Masterplan”. You can get a FREE copy of the first chapter of the book — The Secret to Learning about Technology Quickly and Continuously.
Want to get a bit of positive visibility? How about sharing in the comments below ideas you plan to put in place to improve your reputation? I’ll try to help you speed up that!