The New Year is traditionally a time when many people set personal development goals. Often these are directed toward enhancing one’s personal brand.
Yet in the 12 months ahead, I would encourage you to think beyond this to your broader reputation with family, friends, and key stakeholders.
Personal branding is about establishing an image of yourself in the minds of others. Knowing your mission, defining yourself, aligning your words and actions, being visible, marketing yourself. While these are useful exercises, they are just first steps in building your reputation.
Personal reputation management can help you to think about your personal development more broadly and should be considered by all wanting to build a successful career. Here are some key ideas to keep in mind to help you along the journey in 2019 and beyond:
- Performance is key: your reputation stems, ultimately, from your performance. Every action you take matters. Performance comes down to how you approach the day-to-day work you’re tasked with, the quality of the results you deliver and impact you make. Make a difference in every job, go the extra mile, deliver results and quality, think outside the box, volunteer for challenging projects. Keep a record of your achievements, things that you are proud of, learn from your mistakes. Don’t shy away from sharing your successes with your colleagues or others who may be interested – people cannot read your mind.
- Perception is reality: your reputation is what other people say about you when you are not in the room. What others think of you is not only based on your performance and experience working with you. Their expectations play a critical role in how they see other people. Invest time in understanding the needs and motivations of your stakeholders. Take some time to reflect on whether your image is consistent with your performance and your career goals. Sometimes, the only way to check how others see you is to ask them for feedback. Take a measure of your reputation and compare it with your self-image and then find ways to bridge the gap.
- Your network is crucial: your reputation reaches as wide as your stakeholder network. Who knows about you and what you do? Does your boss know what you do? Do others inside and outside your organisation know much about you? Your colleagues, managers, bosses, mentors and sponsors hold the key to your success. Build mutually beneficial relationships with your stakeholders, get to know others on a personal level, listen when others tell you about themselves, be willing to lend a helping hand, ask for project work, join task forces, expand your network and keep it as wide as possible. And remember every interaction counts.
So when you are setting your New Year personal development goals, try to think beyond your personal brand. Think about what you need to do to build your reputation. What you stand for and your performance matters. Understanding your stakeholders, their motivations and expectations as well as investing time into building mutually beneficial relationships is what will make a difference to your personal development this year and for many others to come.