Our reputation is how others perceive us. This may or may not be how we view ourselves, or choose to be viewed. It may not even be a particularly enlightened or well-informed representation. Regardless, once it's "out there", our reputation strongly influences our personal and professional success, as others make decisions that can directly impact us based upon how they perceive us, our manner and our capabilities.
The most persuasive means of building our professional reputation is through testimonial and direct evidence-based personal data that is publicly shared. Consider Angie's List or Zagat's. Or, the ratings system for anyone who has ever done business on eBay or has used Uber. Even good old fashioned "word of mouth" person-to-person sharing is still a terrific means of disseminating reputational info with others.
People's experiences with us and or our business, including our reliability, trustworthiness, and responsiveness are all critical elements in defining our public and professional personas and how we are regarded. Our reputation can determine whether or not others wish to associate with us...whether they wish for their names and business to be attached to ours...whether they would trust us with any resources and relationships that have any real value to them. Our reputations can influence our career trajectory and our business prospects. So, most of us are quite protective of our professional image, and appropriately so.
Yet, a surprisingly large number of individuals who while otherwise careful to cultivate strong professional reputations can allow unflattering glimpses of their character in their electronic correspondence (e.g. emails) and on social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter) that can also profoundly shape others' perceptions of them. These may seem like little things, relatively speaking, but they speak volumes. The following are some actual comments that I've captured from emails and social media that have shaped my perception of the authors, even though their professional reputations are otherwise quite stellar.
"Since I've been with ________ these past 3 years, our revenues have grown 400%. So, please move on. I think we're doing just fine without you." (Post script: this person is no longer with the Company he mentioned).
"...I've offered them something that they would be lucky to have and never would have developed on their own. I think they're idiots."
"I could purchase the components of your client's technology at Walmart. Why in the world should we be interested in this?" (Post script: this fellow is no longer with the Company he references).
If you want to learn a bit about someone before interacting directly with them, just follow their discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter. These can offer some revealing insights into how they perceive themselves and how they approach their interactions with others when they think no one in their world is "listening", or if they feel that they are in a "power position". Are you careful about what you write, your tone and tenor when you engage in conversations on social media? Others are forming impressions. Understand that these may or may not be what you intend or desire.
"Connecting You With The Right Solutions" BFS Innovations, Inc.