It's no secret that, now more than ever, networking and professional opinions play a major role in shaping our future success. In our connected world, your professional reputation follows you everywhere you go, influencing how people see you and judge your abilities, and shaping your access to opportunity accordingly. Here are simple ways you can improve your professional reputation today.
Go the extra mile for a colleague.
It's so easy to think about how busy we are, how much we have to do, and how long it's going to take us. But instead of looking at a to-do list and bemoaning what's dragging you down, take a timeout from your tasks and see what you can reasonably do to help a colleague. It won't take very much time--and you'llforge a stronger working relationship while solidifying your reputation as a team player. Building your professional reputation is an iterative process--so remember that even small steps can lead to a much bigger positive outcome.
Catch up on your backlog.
In an ideal world, you would finish all of your work on time and never fall behind on anything. But most of us live in the real world where, from time to time, other things intervene in our perfectly laid plans.Falling behind every now and then is totally understandable, but you want to be known as the person who always catches up as quickly as possible.The most effective workers are those who find time to catch up on overdue assignments, particularly the assignments that have the greatest impact on other people. They follow through on their commitments--and, in the instances they can't, they clearly communicate about issues as well as the strategies and timeframe for resolving them.
Share a recommendation.
Much like thanking colleagues for their help on a project, writing a LinkedIn recommendation or offering a reference is a small gesture that goes a long way. It can sometimes feel awkward to ask colleagues for their recommendations, so being proactive about recommending others shows that you value them and respect their work. Not only will they likely return the favor on your LinkedIn profile, but they'll also recognize your appreciation and look forward to working with you in the future. If you're more conservative about being so public (often, senior leaders are), that's fine too. Letting people know that you'd love to recommend them in the future and prefer one-on-one conversations is also great. It removes their hesitation to ask you down the road and serves as a reassuring confidence boost that they've done a great job.
Redirect negative talk to constructive conversation.
During tough projects, it's remarkably easy for the conversation to take a destructive detour. But a negative tone demotivates employees and hinders progress. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, try to steer the conversation in a constructive direction. Focus on the items that fall within your team's control and influence, keeping things as positive as possible. In addition to noticing your discipline and focus, your colleagues may begin looking to you for leadership on future projects. Managers will see your evolving leadership potential and growing internal influence--which could lead to new opportunities in the future.
Get involved in industry groups.
Sometimes when you're first starting out, it's easy to ignore established industry groups as an investment of time you'll make later (you know, after you prove yourself). Conversely, as experienced professionals, we sometimes forget the benefits of learning, sharing our expertise, and building new connections instead of relying on the tried and true. Make an effort to pick one great industry association to join. Attend meetings and conferences, volunteer when you can, or simply weigh in on industry forums online. In addition to great exposure to new ideas, rising stars, and established voices in your field, you also build or reinforce your credibility as someone whose perspective adds value.