Whether you want them to or not people are talking behind your back. Even you are talking behind your own back. The real question is, what is being said? Since you have very little or no control over the internet and what other people are saying, your best bet is to treat your reputation like it is gold. Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you will do things differently.” Right now, we live in an age of information overload. People want information quickly and they can get information on any subject as quickly as it takes them to input a few keystrokes on Google.
When was the last time you Googled yourself? Participate in a simple exercise, Google your name. Look at all of the page one and page two Google results. You will find out quickly what the world thinks about you. Information about you is being broadcasted 24/7 and you have very little control over what is being said once it hits the internet. Just ask anyone that has had damage done to their reputation via social media, bad press or worse, from having a compromising photo, quote or post written online.
When I Google “Doug Sandler,” my website comes up as the first result, another guy named Doug Sandler comes up as result number two. My book comes up as result number three. LinkedIn, Twitter, Huffington Post, a few guest blogs and podcasts I appeared on come next, followed by my Facebook page and other sites that I have blogged and posted as well.
Take it one step further and click on each of those links and scan through photos, web pages and any information you find. Any negative reviews, tagged pics and posted unfavorable results will absolutely appear as well. Consider this, anyone that is going to make any hiring decisions about you, want to work on a major project with you, or provide you with a big piece of business will be searching your name and looking into your history. Does your reputation warrant getting the job or the business?
Additionally, in order to protect your reputation, it’s first important to understand the value that you provide in other people’s lives. I had a wonderful opportunity to hear a professional speaker named Kaplan Mobray recently. As Kaplan presented his message I was reminded of a few questions we all need to ask ourselves whenever we meet people both professionally and personally.
- What will I contribute to this person, company or group?
- How will I benefit this person, company or group?
- How will I add value to what is going on?
If you take your focus off you and work toward helping others, you will begin to see that keeping your reputation in the plus column is not as difficult as you would have imagined. Another way to gain a greater sense of control over managing your reputation begins when you understand why people trust you, why they like you and what they remember about you. It is truly empowering to know that anything we put out, we get back in return. Being honest will get us honesty in return. Being trustworthy will earn you trust and respect as a result.
At every step along the way, you want to be able to turn around and see the amazing work you have done. Sure, it may not be perfect and you may not win every time, but as you write your life’s story, you will want to make it a story you are proud to tell.