It’s always been important to make a great first impression. After all, people make up their mind about you in an instant.
If you make a mess of it, you might - over time – get a chance to shift a negative first impression, but in most cases it will stick around. In the case of a business, that negative impression is very likely to find its way into social media or a review website, for all to see.
Everyone’s collective impression lumps together to form your reputation. In 2015, that reputation is highly influenced by what others are saying to others about your business. Most of the time, you won’t even be a part of that conversation.
It’s true that we’re all now performing on a world stage every day, and any business slip-ups are broadcast in real time. That 15 minutes of fame we used to seek now lasts forever – whether we like it or not.
So, how can you control your reputation? Well, unfortunately, you can’t because it’s all about what other people think. You can, however, influence those thoughts through what you do and say, and how other people directly experience your business.
Here are three things I encourage you to focus on in 2015, to influence a positive reputation for your business or organisation.
- Get the inside right. In the past, we relied on “spin” to get us out of trouble if anything went wrong. We’d put the best possible slant on the problem, and carry on as if nothing had happened. No business can get away with that any more. Everyone can see deeply into your operations. Rather than papering over the cracks, focus on weeding out any issues. Do an honest analysis of your business and identify any problems with customer service, staff relations and anything else that could escalate into an ugly reputational issue. Take steps now to address those matters; don’t wait until they snowball.
- Build relationships that matter. We don’t just have networks any more, we’re operating in an entire ecosystem of influence. Something that happens in one part of the ecosystem has a ripple effect, spreading to every other part. Who are the important people in your ecosystem; customers, suppliers, investors, staff, family? Do an inventory and make a conscious choice to focus more time on fostering and nurturing positive relationships with those most critical for you and more business.
- Position, position, position. In 2015, businesses with strong public positioning will surge ahead of their shrinking-violent competitors. Take active steps to be known as a leader and authority in your field. Start by building a positive media profile (I’m talking about the “old-fashioned” media here – newspapers, radio, TV and magazines) and interweave your media coverage with your social media and other marketing efforts. You need to be great to start with; now you must get known for being great. If you need help, start by downloading my free e-book on media success, at www.mediasuccess.com.au
Make 2015 your year of great reputation. May every first impression be a positive one, and may your reputation transport you to even greater achievements.