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Why Building Reputation Capital Is The Key To Career Advancement

Why Building Reputation Capital Is The Key To Career Advancement

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the meaning of “investment capital” in a business/economic context – money that an investor uses to acquire assets that will allow them to grow their wealth over time.

Well, at Elevate Talent we believe that we all have “personal capital”, and it works in just the same way. 

Building up your personal portfolio in the workplace

Your personal capital is the portfolio of abilities and achievements that you’ve built up throughout your life and career – your knowledge of your chosen field, the skills that allow you to excel at work, the routines that keep you sharp and motivated, the connections that help you get ahead.

For an investor, growing their investment capital means having the chance to buy more assets and increase their wealth. For you, building your personal capital means being able to accomplish more in your career, unlock more opportunities for self-improvement, reach higher up the career climbing wall, and yes, of course,  earn more money!

There are many facets to your personal capital, and on the Elevate programme we help our women nail every part of it – but one of the most important facets is your reputation

Reputation means, quite simply, what your bosses, colleagues and clients think about you, how they talk about you when you aren’t in the room, and what qualities they associate with you in their minds. This plays a fundamental role in your career.

As you progress through your career, you should always be looking to build up your reputation capital, but sometimes it’s not always clear how to improve it, or what is damaging it. 

Why does reputation matter?

We all have a reputation, whether we like it or not. The people around us observe the things we do and say, the way we treat them and others. They judge our behaviour and form an impression of our personality. They talk about us with other people and create a picture of us that they then share with people who don’t know us yet.

When we come to meet these people, they carry with them the picture of us that others have given them. Before we’ve even had a chance to make a first impression, our reputation influences how they think and feel about us. This could be what decides if we snag that lucrative contract or get that next senior management position!

When things are running smoothly at work, it might not feel like your reputation matters much – but it’s always there, ticking away in the background; and in difficult, high-stakes situations you’ll often find you have to depend on it.

Your reputation can act as a stamp of quality assurance

If you make a mistake at work, how will your colleagues react? If they know you to be someone with honesty and integrity, they’ll probably be happy to write it off as a learning experience. If not, they’re more likely to see it as the result of laziness or carelessness on your part.

Or imagine that you and another colleague are both going for the same promotion. You have extremely similar CVs, qualifications and experience, so what will be the deal breaker? The job will go to the person who has the better standing with their colleagues.

Having a good reputation is like having a great brand that people trust. When a brand like Coca-Cola or Amazon gets something wrong, it might damage their bottom line temporarily, but as long as they have their reputation for delivering an excellent product or service, they’ll soon bounce back.

It might not seem fair that so much of our success depends on what others think of us, but there’s no point getting defensive. Whether you are a man, woman or non-binary, we are all humans and that means we all judge people based on their reputation, it’s just a fact of life. We cannot control that, but what we can control is “how” they judge us. 

The best way to deal with it is to take responsibility for shaping our reputation through positive action.

How can I build reputation capital?

A good investor builds their portfolio by making smart decisions about where to put their money, and your reputation capital is no different. You have to consciously dedicate time and energy to making a good impression on people if you want your reputation to be an asset rather than a liability.

How do you go about doing this? It’s all about having the right principles.

We hear a lot about values in business these days, but perhaps not enough about principles. Values are internal and subjective – they can change over time. Principles are fixed, permanent and universal. Think of them as the natural laws of human behaviour. Just as the law of gravity will always dictate how objects move through space, so are there certain principles that will always shape how other people think and feel about us.

If you knock your coffee off your desk, you shouldn’t be surprised when it ends up all over your shoes. Likewise, if you’re often dishonest or unreliable with your colleagues, you shouldn’t be shocked to find out that they don’t trust you. It’s simple cause and effect. You might not like it, but unless you’re ready to go and live on the moon, there’s no way of escaping it!

Generally, the principles of building a good reputation are easy to understand, but more difficult to put into practice. If you want to learn more, look out for future blogs where we’ll be discussing these principles in more detail and sharing the shortcuts you can use to build your reputation capital and advance your career.

If you’ve got any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch; and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to find out more about how Elevate Talent is helping women climb to the top of the career ladder.