Reputation: "A widespread belief that someone or something has a particular habit or characteristic."
Your reputation meets new people before you do.
We all want to make a good first impression, but what if I told you that you could make two good first impressions? You can be charming, kind and interesting when you meet someone and leave them with a great opinion of you. But imagine if they already had a good opinion of you before you even meet in person? Then your job is even easier; all you have to do now is back it up. When you meet someone for the first time, you have to assume they have already heard about you from at least one person, because before you say hello and meet someone, they have already met your reputation.
"I don't care what anyone thinks about me."
We all know someone who says this, maybe it's you. We praise this way of thinking because of how brash and confident it is. When I hear that phrase I see a greaser type of guy in a leather jacket with cool sunglasses walking down the street and flipping people off. It's a very cool idea, and it makes us feel cooler to think it. But for anyone reading who would like to make friends and get somewhere in the world, I would suggest this:
Start caring what people think about you. Your reputation is built on what people think of you, so....
What do people think of you?
People who you have been around you for more than five minutes; what kind of impression do they have of you? People who have known you for years; what would they say about you?
Think about this: You apply for a job, and you need to give a list of references. The employer is going to call those two-five people you listed and ask them to talk about you. You have listed those individuals because you hope that their testimony of you will strengthen the impression you are trying to make. Whatever those people say will be based on what you have shown them. If you have given your references good reason to speak highly of you, they will.
How you act NOW determines how people talk about you LATER.
You might be in the running for a great position with a company until one of your references tells them that you tend to slack off at work. So, logically, working hard and doing good work at your current job will have an impact on your next job. You have to think about how your now affects your later. Being nice to everyone around you right now will have an impact on your relationships later. So guard your reputation. It is a vehicle that will drive you towards your destination. Change the tires, check your oil, and don’t let it get dinged and scratched.
People will always talk about you. Make sure they have good things to say.
You have to have this same mindset of having references everywhere in your life, not just during a job search. Does it bother you to hear that people were talking about you when you weren’t around? Get used to that. People will always talk about you and you can’t stop them. What you can do is control the narrative. People will speak about you according to what you say and do. So say and do things that make people say good things about you when you’re not around.
Now even if you are impressive, and kind to everyone, some people will still say bad things about you. They may be jealous, they may want to knock you down. Just ignore those people, because they are grumps. You don’t have to worry about them getting in your way, because people who speak badly of others aren’t going anywhere anyway. So be careful not to speak badly of others and earn yourself a reputation for doing just that. Here's a couple of good tidbits on building reputation:
1. Every act of kindness is an investment in your reputation. Every person that you treat with respect and interest becomes an advocate for you should they be given the chance. Being kind to others earns you a reputation for being kind to others.
2. People who work hard earn respect. Even if it's not your favorite task, do it with all your heart. Your reputation for having a "Do it!" attitude will pay you back down the road. Don't believe me? Try it yourself. Working hard earns you a reputation for being a good worker, which earns you more work.
Starting to get the picture?
You gain a reputation that you deserve. So, deserve a good reputation!
Your reputation is everyone else's reflection of who you have shown yourself to be. People can always lie about you, but you still hold the most power over what people think of you. The process is consistent: People see your actions and interactions, and then give their review of you to others. So be good to others, and work hard in everything you do because...
Your reputation carries you.
The reputation you develop by your actions carries you in whatever direction you set it in. It's the wave under your surfboard; a smooth road under your tires. When the frontman at a concert jumps into the audience to crowd-surf, He better hope that there is plenty of people there who are willing to hold Him up. The same goes for you. Every conversation, every small task, and every moment where anyone may be watching is an opportunity to have an impact on your reputation, whether positive or negative. Care well for your reputation and it will clear a straight path forward for you.