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Why your reputation matters

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Other people’s perceptions of you can make or break your career, says June Koh, talent management manager at Asia Pacific Breweries.

Singapore – Capital is a term we often use to describe an investment of money, time or effort that can generate returns over a certain period. But what do we mean when we talk about reputation capital?

This is not a recently coined term, but it is one which stuck with me when I first came across it in “The 2020 Workplace” by Jeanne C Meister and Karie Willyerd.

To quote the authors: “Reputation capital will be the top currency in the 2020 workplace…This is the sum total of your personal brand, your expertise and the breadth, depth and quality of your social networks.”

Simply put, it is your gateway to your next job or promotion, as companies will increasingly source, recruit and promote based on reputation capital.

But it’s not simply a reflection of the number of followers on Twitter, or the numbers of connections on LinkedIn. It goes beyond the numbers to measure the depth and quality of these networks. It shows one’s ability to turn these networks into something which has business value for the organisation, and a stronger personal brand for the individual.

Most of our development programmes focus on developing our capability in leading teams and inculcating organisation values. That is the norm and it is almost the least staff expect from their bosses.

In the past, interesting development programmes I worked on for senior leadership teams that were included in their key agenda were on how to interact in formal settings; how to script a memorable self-introduction, and even what someone should wear to a black-tie event. These helped to develop a stronger personal brand, but reputation capital stretches beyond an individual branding.

Building a reputation capital
In this highly networked world, we cannot ignore the social technologies and platforms in our marketplace. We need to realise we are in a very connected world and updates are almost instantaneous.

I read a survey done on brand infiltration that every minute, 13 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube, and it would take 412.3 years to view everything on there.

That is an amazing amount of information and it would take great discernment to weed out the relevant. For anyone starting out on building his reputation capital, he needs to balance both the quantity and quality so that he is not just another number, but rather someone valued in the community.

Our first step is to embrace social technologies as much as possible while still valuing our privacy. The lines between public and private, professional and personal are now blurred and we cannot ignore them.

The main objective is no longer just to help one stay connected, and organisations are using them to drive communication and collaboration in the workplace.

Here are a couple of tips:

1. Be technically savvy
Keep abreast of new and upcoming advances in technology used for engagement – but you also need to evaluate the gains and possible risks posed. For example, the use of Facebook for a virtual project team to stay updated is a good idea, but its access may be restricted to some. The ability to build your reputation capital depends largely on your ability to build relationships in a virtual world. You need to learn the language of a social media world.

2. Be a social learner
Look for online communities that are important and relevant either professionally or socially. Stay in touch with the community to contribute comments and ideas, and actively participate in professional groups which allow you to gleam knowledge and best practices from different industries. You will be amazed by how this experienced platform of discussion reflects on the similarities of challenges we face.

3. Be authentic in your networking
Bring in your personality. Don’t just blend in with the masses using the overly-composed language. Treat this like a real dialogue that you would have. Encourage comments and responses; be consistent with your personal values.

4. Be responsible
Respect copyright, disclosure laws and trademarks. Write in the first person if you are representing only your views. When creating excitement in the social realm, you will have to differentiate between a vigorous debate and an inflammatory discussion.

Every organisation is at a different stage in terms of social networking, and we have different rules of engagement with regards to this. What’s important is organisations and individuals are aligned with the rules as we increasingly become a global citizen in the coming years.

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