Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation, disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.” – Tim Ferriss

I strongly dislike the term ‘personal brand’. It might just be me, but it makes me think of influencers on Instagram who fled the UK for Dubai and were ‘shocked’ when they couldn’t get home after the UK went into lockdown. Or the many ‘8-figure entrepreneurs’ on ClubHouse. The people I’m talking to are leaders or leaders of tomorrow who are motivated to start building their reputation. They want to get it right, do it so it has value, and contributes in a meaningful way. But Tim’s quote makes the point that more of us should be considering when it comes to our professional reputation: why don’t more of us treat our reputation like it’s a tangible, valuable asset in our control? Something we can utilise – every day – to help us achieve the career we want or build the business we dream about?

Image of Tim Ferriss.
Tim is standing in front of a grey backdrop, smiling at the camera wearing a grey t-shirt.

When it comes to your professional reputation, now is the time to think and treat your reputation like you’re a business building and protecting an asset. It’s time to switch your thinking about your reputation from passive to active and view it as something you can utilise to help you achieve your career goals – whatever they may be. 

Here are some tips on how you can do that:

Trust the data about corporate reputation and apply it to yourself

Businesses have recognised reputation as an intangible asset for decades and the importance of corporate reputation is increasing. A recent KPMG report found that the value of intangible assets for businesses – with corporate reputation being ranked as the most valuable intangible – has increased from 15% in 1975 to more than 85% in the last 10 – 15 years. KPMG also notes that this trend will continue, as activist events over the past few years have ‘pushed the corporate environment from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism’, combined with the acceleration of digital business models and the impact of COVID-19.

KPMG’s 2020 report: Protecting Intangible Assets

 

Apple’s brand is estimated to be worth $USD264 billion, followed by Amazon at $USD254b and Google at USD$250b. 

This quote from Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, shows his perspective on reputation: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.” If you were a business, you would be allocating resources to building and protecting your reputation. In the age of Google, the 24-7 news cycle and social platforms, your reputation is something you can treat like the corporates do and make it work for you like an asset. This will take some investment, but like any asset, the approach is that the results will be greater than the investment. 

Image of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.
Jeff is sitting in front of a concrete wall, smiling at the camera wearing a blue shirt.

 

Think beyond your immediate network

Google ‘professional reputation’ and the advice is for someone who wants to play small: be on time, be loyal, have a good work ethic, network… Duh. 

When it comes to professional reputation it’s time to think bigger and beyond the everyday behaviours that sure will help you be known as someone capable and good to work with. If you want your reputation to work for you like an asset does, you need to be known beyond your immediate network. In this way, you can use your reputation to, reach your business or career goals, help your industry innovate and participate in interesting, progressive conversation that makes a change.

Be consistent

Brands using key messages is PR 101, something every comms team or PR agency will create to make brand communications consistent and memorable. But sometimes my clients who are working with me to improve their in-person communication are surprised when I recommend we create key messages that they can use when they have to talk about themselves. This way, a client who may need to provide a testimonial, their CEO or a stakeholder who needs to sign off an agreement will know the same things about that person over time. It feels repetitive when it’s you, but it’s not for the people who are hearing it. 

Image of a woman presenting to a room of people.

Being consistent with how you talk about yourself and the words and phrases you use applies the same thinking when brands use key messages. It builds visibility and understanding over time. People know what your skills and attributes are because you make it easy and consistent for them when you have to talk about yourself. It sets you apart.

Love him or hate him, I’ll leave you with this Garry Vaynerchuck quote: “Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level.” 

If you’d like to start working on your reputation so it’s an asset that helps you achieve more than you could have imagined, you can email me here. Or, if you’d like to know more about working with pilotPR, you can watch our quick intro video here.

 

Angela Cross is a reputation strategist who works with c-Suite leaders and brands to build and protect their reputations through PR, corporate social media, industry profiling, stakeholder engagement, and effective issues management. If you would like to build your reputation with purpose and authority, email her here.