Offline reputation building: Start early, go big

Often when I am speaking with my mentees, we reflect on the entire span of their career, starting from their first few years in the corporate world. I usually ask them some questions about what they did in their early stages to enhance their personal brand. A common answer I get is, “I was not investing in myself at that time. After all, I was only a small fry in a large corporate company! What could I have done?” We then go back and discuss some simple things that could have added greatly to their reputation even as a junior executive. At the end of the exercise, we often conclude that the nascent years are in fact the best time to start building a personal brand. While it might seem very daunting, a lot of good can come out of it. You still have the time to experiment on what works for you and what needs to be revisited. You can build a strong reputation for yourself to help you stand out against others at your level. And, most importantly, this reputation will eventually precede how you will be perceived in the future. 

In a previous article, I discussed how you can leverage your online presence to create a personal strong brand. Given that we are often communicating in person (or under current circumstances – on calls and video conferencing), the way you carry yourself in your daily interactions matters just as much. Here are some tips on building a strong offline reputation.

Build a Communication Channel:

Whether in a small organisation or a large one, we often end up staying in tightly knit groups of our teams. In doing so though, we end up missing out on communicating with the seniors and colleagues from other departments. Interacting with your immediate seniors is not enough, having a strong communication channel outside your team is equally important. Even though you may not be in direct contact with the C-suite, many other senior employees are in the direct eye of the CEO. Have a strong association with them. This will help them to know your capabilities and goals, and perhaps even recommend you for a bigger opportunity in the future.

Work on projects that have organisation-wide impact:

Building a strong communication channel is easier said than done. However, we are often faced with opportunities that can be leveraged to create a wider circle of mentors and associates. Every so often, there are talks about a radical new project that requires cross-functional support. While it might seem that the senior members of the team will lead the project, there is a lot of on-ground support that younger employees can help with. In fact, with most companies turning to digitalisation, managers are seeking out younger individuals who understand the concept better and speak the lingo. These projects can serve as a great platform to showcase your talent and interact with senior leaders across the organisation. Playing even a small role in such ventures can add to your visibility and reputation. 

Showcase your work: 

While we often do a great job, we don’t always talk about it assuming that our boss will canvas the work for us, or that the work will speak for itself. However, bosses have other team members reporting to them and further, they even have their own careers to manage. When the work doesn’t get recognised, there is a feeling of disgruntled resentment. In a few small ways though, you can easily turn this around by picking the right moments to showcase your work. You don’t have to become desperate and blow your own trumpet at every meeting. However, staying silent is also not an option. Be mindful and conscious of when and how you can speak about your work. The results will certainly show, adding to your worth as an employee and your reputation as a professional. 

Building a strong reputation is a long-term exercise. Starting early gives you a leg up, especially when you are up for a bigger position. Much as you begin investing early to have a better portfolio for the future, start building on your personal brand today to have better professional prospects.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Mitu Samar
Mitu Samar, runs a company called ‘Eminence’, that works with renowned brands in India to build, establish or protect their reputation. She serves as an Independent Director on the boards of Times group Companies. Before turning an entrepreneur, Mitu served as Director, Communication and Brand Management at CRISIL and also headed the marketing and communication role of S&P in South Asia. Her professional experience includes stints with companies like Aditya Birla Financial Services Group, ICICI Prudential MF & GE Shipping.

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