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5 Ways to Ruin Your Reputation in Business

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 30/03/2016 Lisa Larter

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Your reputation is critical to your success in business. It doesn't matter if you're an entrepreneur or you work for a corporation; if you're a salesperson for insurance or real estate; or if you work for a multilevel marketing organization -- it's true for all of us.
There are five ways to ruin your reputation in business that you need to avoid. These mistakes are reputation killers, destroying your credibility and taking away people's desire to do business with you.
Number one -- being late.
Punctuality matters. Whether a meeting is in person or over the phone, showing up on time makes a huge difference. When you're late, you set a negative tone for the meeting. Instead of beginning your meeting from a position of strength, you're beginning with excuses.
When I ran my retail store, my motto was, "Early is on time and on time is late."
Being late demonstrates a lack of respect for the people you're meeting with. Yes, sometimes things happen. There are exceptions, but when your punctuality problem becomes the norm, you are chipping away at your credibility with your potential customers and that could be a deal breaker.
Number two -- over-promising and under-delivering.
If you've set or accepted a deadline, meet it. Under promise so you can over deliver if you must, but do not consistently miss deadlines.
When you say you're going to send something by a certain time and you fail to follow through, you are proving that you cannot be trusted. Your word is in your control -- if you give it, keep it!
If things happen that are beyond your control and it's become impossible to meet the deadline, reach out and let them know that you're going to be late before you're late. Consistently missing deadlines is a reckless way to treat your reputation. If I have to chase you for whatever you've promised me, it's not likely we'll be doing business together for very long.
Number three -- overemotional reactions.
Projects go sideways all the time but it's how you react that determines whether or not it's going to become a crisis. When you react emotionally instead of having the patience to work through a situation rationally and logically, you risk burning your business bridges. It's difficult to undo being labeled a hothead.
Bring your emotion, your heart, your soul, and your energy to the table with every project, but do that with balance and without being overly reactive. Who wants to work with a hot mess?
Number four -- engage in gossip.
No one likes a gossip. When you talk about other people behind their back, the person you are speaking to is thinking, "Gee, I wonder what she says about me when I'm not around?"
And yes, passive aggressive gossip is still gossip. When you say things like, "I really like Lisa Larter, she provides great content but did you hear the mean things she wrote about people who gossip?" Don't say a nice thing and then follow it up with a smack down.
Be mindful of the words that you choose when you're talking about other people. You can totally sabotage your own reputation and how people feel about doing business with you.
Number five -- bad social media manners.
When you behave badly on social media you cannot put the shaving cream back in the can. Somebody, somewhere, will have a screenshot of that stupid thing you did on your favourite social network. If you're an entrepreneur or you use social media for business in any way that is connected to your name, or can be identified with you or your company, you need to maintain a professional image at all times.
Be mindful of what you post on social media and ask yourself, "Is this what I want my next customer to see when they check out my social medial profile to decide if they want to do business with me?" I have used social media to develop my business. It allows connections with people all over the world, and because of that I'm very mindful of my behavior.
Avoid using social media as a soapbox or an outlet for your frustration for every little thing that goes wrong in your life. You need to ask yourself, is this helping me or is it hurting me? Is this attention seeking or is this valuable?
Social media is an extension of your brand -- personal and business -- be conscious of that.
The argument that you don't use social media for business does not hold water. Do you think the CEO of Coca Cola would post a long-winded rant on their personal social media profile because they don't like the election? Given the research Facebook released in February, it's very unlikely. Facebook has determined that there are approximately 3.5 degrees of separation between all 1.59 billion active Facebook users. That means that even if you don't feel you're using social media for business purposes, or if you try to keep those profiles separate, the connections show up in the most unexpected ways and you may not even realize it until it's too late.
Reputation Reflects Character
Your reputation is a reflection of your character. We're all human and we all make mistakes but if these five ways to ruin your reputation in business are the norm for you, you're in trouble. Your character impacts your reputation and your reputation affects your brand and your brand affects people's decisions to do business with you. It's that simple.
Cultivate the best possible reputation so that people love doing business with you, and feel safe referring their friends, family members, and even clients to you because they know you're the real deal and that you're going to deliver.
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