When I was growing up, I remember hearing some of my friends’ parents say, “Remember what name you wear.” They told their children this because the families had good reputations and they didn’t want something the children did to tarnish or ruin the families’ good names.
They could have also said, “Your name is your most important asset and can benefit you for the rest of your life if you do good things. If you do something foolish, your name could become a huge liability and hurt you the rest of your life. If you have a good reputation, you will have better chances of getting the jobs you want. If you have a bad reputation, you will have to work really hard to overcome it.”
What they said, instead of what they could have said, worked best. A teenager wouldn’t listen to a lecture about assets, liabilities and reputations, no matter how poignant it might be. However, as an adult, it is just as important and you should understand the simpler of the two sayings.
This is especially true if you live in small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. In this case, the reputation of each member of your family could have a drastic impact on you down the road. A potential employer can say either, “Johnny comes from a great family” or “We can’t hire Johnny; you can’t trust anyone in his family.” You don’t want this to happen to your children one day. You need to keep your name clean for you as well as for your future generations.
What can you do to ensure your name remains your most valuable and important asset? Follow these simple steps and you should be well on your way.
1. Google Alerts – Set up a Google Alert for your name and your company, if applicable. Google Alerts is a free service through Google that will send you email alerts anytime the applicable term is used on the internet. If the search query is very popular, you can decrease the frequency at which you receive the email alerts.
I receive Google Alerts for “Bert Purdy,” “Intentional Employee” and certain clients. I should also set it up for my children so I can know if their names are being used.
Gene McNaughton, this past week in a training session, indicated he has Google Alerts set up for his name, company and certain clients. I was one of few in the session who raised a hand indicating I had already done this. If Gene does it, so should you.
2. Search social media sites – Similar to Google Alerts, you can receive alerts from social media services like Facebook and Twitter if your name is used. I would also search for variations of your name on a periodic basis to see if it has been used.
3. Social media posts – The quickest and easiest way to turn your name into a liability is to post something inappropriate to social media. The following three things should never be posted if you want to maintain your good reputation.
a. Negative comments – Don’t be a complainer. No one wants to read your complaints. Adopt the “No Complaining” policy addressed here.
b. Illegal activities – I’m amazed by the stories I hear about criminals being caught because they posted something online. If you’re going to brag on Facebook about committing a crime, don’t be surprised when the cops show up at your door.
I understand that most people do not commit blatant illegal acts. But, there have also been instances when teenagers post things that are illegal. I know of an incoming Division 1 soccer player who had his scholarship rescinded by the coach because the coach saw pictures on Facebook of the player drinking alcohol. He was underage. It was illegal. That athlete never played a minute of college soccer because of that mistake.
c. Foul language – It disturbs me when I see people use foul language in social media posts. In almost all cases, I hide those comments from showing in the future or stop following (or unfriend) them. It is never appropriate to use foul language but putting it out there for everyone to read is inexcusable.
4. Volunteer – Nothing can increase your reputation more than by volunteering for worthy causes. Whether it be a big-name charity or your local food bank, volunteering your time is worth it. Hopefully, you volunteer your time because of your desire to help rather than receiving praise. But, being noticed for your good works is a great benefit.
5. Control your publicity – One of the primary reasons for starting intentional employee was to promote my personal brand. By adding valuable (I hope anyway) and positive content on a consistent basis, I control how my name is used online. Writing valuable articles for other publications and public speaking are also great ways to control your publicity.
6. Be positive – Being a positive person will attract others to you. They will want to be around you because your presence will make them feel better. Positivity is contagious. So is negativity. What attitude do you want to promote? Always be positive. There is no better attitude to have.
7. Personal appearance – Your personal appearance will be the primary way you are judged at an initial meeting. First impressions are made within seven seconds of meeting someone so it is extremely hard to overcome a bad impression. Dress in the manner in which you want to been seen.
If you follow these seven steps to maintaining a good name, you should not be surprised by the success you will achieve just because of who you are. Granted, there are many other things you can do that can improve your reputation but these seven items are simple. There is no excuse to not follow even one of these recommendations.
Please let me know your practices for maintaining or improving your good name. If you overcame a past bad reputation, let me know what you did to achieve that. Post your comments below so others can learn from them as well.