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Influence Redefined: Building a Good Reputation

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By Carole Chambers

If you want to influence buy this book.  In fact, the sooner you read this book, the more rapidly you will accelerate your ability to influence. But be patient. Influence is earned over time. Hanke suggests that everyone who wants to become a skilled influencer must adopt specific, intentional behaviors MONDAY THROUGH MONDAY.  

What does she mean by that? I’m sure you figured it out. She means there is no time “off”.  If you want to be seen as a force of influence, you cannot be a “different” person on Saturday from who you are on Tuesday. You may look different on Saturday, but your actions and communications should be consistent with how you want to be seen. Hanke identifies these five issues as being top priorities for those who desire to be seen as influential: 

  1. Self-awareness: We can only change behavior if we are first aware of it.
  2. Consistency: Consistency is the difference between a good communicator and one with true influence.
  3. Reputation: Your reputation enters the room before you do.
  4. Adaptability: Adapt your message on the fly without skipping a beat. 
  5. Impact: It’s not only about how you show up but also what you leave behind. 

Numbers 1, 2, 4 and even 5 are behaviors you can adopt and apply to daily living rather quickly. You simply have to decide to do so. But you can’t just decide to make your reputation great. No, a great reputation is earned over time. It accumulates with each human interaction. 

Hanke adds, “…A strong, positive reputation has an extraordinary effect on the amount of trust, credibility, respect and ultimately on the influence you have on others.”

In today’s highly-competitive workplace, reputation makes a difference. Your competition can be down the hall, across the country, or 10 feet away. When it comes to your reputation, hoping for the best isn’t good enough. Your reputation needs to be shaped and managed so it reflects the way you want to be viewed. YOU have to shape it. YOU have to manage it.

Hanke makes some great suggestions on how to take your reputation to the next level:

  1. List three adjectives that describe how you want to be perceived by others.
  2. Ask several people to tell you one word that describes how they perceive you. Does that word match one of YOUR self-designated adjectives?
  3. Check out how you look every day. What kind of first impression do you make? Is your appearance consistent with how you described yourself?
  4. Check all your social media profiles to make sure they align with our personal brand and promote a positive reputation.

Here are a few additional, easy suggestions. If you’re intentional in making sure you do the do’s and avoid the don’ts, your reputation will take flight.

·        Meet deadlines.

“I didn’t have enough time,” is unacceptable for failing to meet deadlines. What really happens is that we run out of time — and that’s due to poor planning. If you’re a procrastinator, you have to plan ahead. Set an internal deadline 24 hours ahead of the actual deadline and hold yourself accountable. Spend time working on projects you dislike when your energy is highest, and you are at peak performance.   

·        Express appreciation to someone who helps.

This is so obvious but sometimes we get busy and move from one thing to another. Make it a point to say thanks. If it was a big deal, make a big deal out of how you say thanks. Be demonstrative. Be sincere.

·        Give credit to others. 

 Some people think it diminishes ourselves if we make a point to give a “shout out” to someone else. But just the opposite is true. It says we understand what it means to be a team player. It shows we value the other person.  Everyone wants to feel valued.

·        Pitch in when someone is out.

Whether it is taking messages, answering questions, or solving a problem, helping says you have their back. It will not be forgotten.

 ·        Ask questions.

We’ve all been in meetings where new processes or procedures are introduced.  Sometimes the explanations are unclear or confusing. Ask the question. Don’t assume you’re the only one who didn’t get it.  Say something like, “My brain isn’t quite tracking on that. Would you mind repeating it please?” Or “Hmm. I’m confused. Could you please provide a more specific explanation?” It shows you’re thinking. It shows you want to get it right.

·        Be careful about complaining. 

Watch out for complainers who make their discontent known at lunch or in after work social time. Complaining can be toxic, and those who do it put their reputation at risk.

·        Whole heartedly welcome new co-workers. 

This one is so easy and so impactful. Create an indelible, welcoming impression and you will be remembered. IDEA: Place a card on their desk after they leave on day one, commenting on how hard day one can feel sometimes. Tell them you’re there to help out and make day two easier. Give them your personal extension. Plan something special for them on several days in their first month. 

·        Come up with solutions for problems. Avoid the natural instinct to hold back and play it safe: What if it doesn’t work out? Or it’s rejected? Think it through and give it a try.  You’ll be seen as a strategic thinker who adds value to the team.

·        Offer suggestions so others don’t trip themselves up.

 “Would it be helpful to look at it this way?” or “Have you considered other possibilities?” Such questions can help rescue someone from stepping off a cliff, from making an unnecessary mistake. They won’t forget it. 

·        Admit it when you’re wrong.

It’s easy to say, “Everybody makes mistakes” or “I’m just human” when we get something wrong. But passing it off is quite different from taking ownership and saying, “I was wrong.” Whichever path you choose, both impact one’s reputation.

  • Help others reach their goals.

If you have suggestions that would accelerate their timetable, suggest it. If you know ways they can remove barriers, share your knowledge. People will remember your kindness and will become your raving fans.

  • Step back to get a bigger picture.

What’s going on right around us holds our attention, blinding us to the bigger picture, distorting our thinking, and causing us to react inappropriately. When you’re “in the weeds”, it helps to step back so you can see more clearly.

  • Pay attention to details.

Nothing is more disruptive, embarrassing and frustrating than the wrong address or price, a phone number that’s one digit off, a misspelling or something that was left out. Reputations are made on accuracy; the opposite is also true.

  • Don’t make excuses.

It’s quite simple: the opposite of making excuses is taking responsibility. Either way, there’s a reward, one you want and one you don’t.

  • Avoid having someone remind you. 

Digital calendars and reminders should eliminate the need for someone to remind us. It hasn’t. The offenders are just more visible. Don’t be one of them.

  • Welcome challenges. 

If all we know is what we’re doing now at work, we’re coasting. When we dare to step out of our comfort zone and take risks, we do more than just hold a job.

Do you remember the last time a co-worker or fellow committee or board member lifted up you and your good work for others to see? You remember how good it felt? Pay it forward.

  • Take on extra work.

Sure, you’ve got more than enough on your plate, so why pile on anything more? It lets you demonstrate your ability to shoulder a heavier load. And that doesn’t go unnoticed. 

  • Do what you say you will do. 

Follow through and deliver quality results if you want to be seen as a professional with whom others want to work.  Over time, it builds trust.  It tells others “Hey, she can handle it.”

  • Be on time for meetings and appointments

In fact, be a few minutes early. If it’s your meeting you can use a moment or two to get organized. If someone else called the meeting, you send a compliment to that person when you show up slightly ahead of start time. It tells them you’re eager to hear what they have to say.

  • Help others reach their goals.

If you have suggestions that would accelerate their timetable, suggest it. If you know ways they can remove barriers, share your knowledge. People will remember your kindness and will become your raving fans.

  • Be intentional in making others look good.

Do you remember the last time a co-worker or fellow committee or board member lifted up you and your good work for others to see? You remember how good it felt?  Pay it forward.

  • Go a step or two beyond what is expected.

Exceeding expectations is a foundational attitude and something that you have to pursue daily. Exceeding expectations is a proactive effort. Exceeding expectations is a completely voluntary activity and when it becomes foundational to the way you think, it has the power to elevate your value and create seeds for new opportunities.

  • Look the part.

They say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Whether connecting with a customer, recruiting a new employee, requesting a bank loan or presenting a sales proposal, you need to look the part. When meeting a client or new connection, dress in a professional yet approachable manner to convey confidence, energy, knowledge and success.

  • Consider your body language.

Body language expert Amy Cuddy recommends striking a “power pose” for two minutes, in private, before a stressful situation. It tricks your body’s hormone levels so you feel more confident and less stressed. Her mantra is, “Fake it till you BECOME it.” Definitely watch her TED Talk(s).  They are worth your time.

  • Act with Integrity. Every. Single. Time.  It builds TRUST
  • Smile more.

A Penn State study found that – No Surprise – smiling people are more approachable, likable and appear more competent. According to University of Pittsburgh researchers, they also come across more trustworthy.

  • Get engaged with your community. 

Do you want to live longer? Serving others makes us healthier. In fact, serving others reduces mortality by 22% – 44%. People who volunteer have 29% lower risk of high blood pressure, 17% lower risk of inflammation levels, and spend 38% fewer nights in the hospital. I know a good non-profit, just saying…

  • Exclamation points?

Some people, women more than men, have forgotten that an exclamation point should be used sparingly. Judiciously to underscore excitement or importance. Not every sentence or every other sentence can be that exciting.  Do you know people who have permanently replaced periods with exclamation points?!?!!!

My question to you is: Do you want to be seen as a cheerleader or a focused professional? Act accordingly.

When all is said and done, your reputation is what you make it.