ROR and Reputation in the Marketplace

 

Return on Relationships is about Return on Investment, where your investment is in the time and energy it takes to build a network of positive advocates – people who like, trust and respect you, and you them.

The underlying principle of Return on Relationships is “Reputation in the Marketplace”. Your Reputation in the Marketplace is broadly defined by the degree to which you and your brand have a recognised presence and are able to attract business and new connections, either directly or through referrals.

It is also important to think about the sort of words you want people to associate with you and your business and to ensure that what you do and say is in line with the behaviours that people would associate with those words – do people think Integrity, Trust, Respect, Value, Reliability, Honesty, Results…….? Or whatever you want your brand and reputation to be synonymous with……… if the answer is “No!” then you need to do some thinking!

Building a substantial Reputation in the Marketplace demands a strong personal brand and business brand and a sizeable network of people who are promoting you, all backed up by a web presence that is easy to access through Google, your websites, your blog, etc. The most important aspect, however, is that all these aspects are aligned and not contradictory.

Reputation in the Marketplace is also potentially quite fragile, just ask Gerald Ratner, who made a few ill-judged comments in a speech and destroyed his high street retail business literally overnight. Obviously this is on a different scale to the average one-man-band or small business, but the same basic rules apply and damage is very easy to do and very hard to undo. What’s important here is the concept of “Goodwill”, without which any company that relies on long-term business relationships cannot survive.

In a small business, the key factor is that you deliver the results that are expected. This is mainly about managing expectation correctly and then delivering – promising delivery in 2 weeks and delivering in one week is obviously a substantially more impressive outcome than the other way around…………..

Reputation is also multi-faceted – you have a reputation as a person, a reputation as a professional, a reputation as a friend, perhaps another as a subject matter expert, another as a parent, perhaps a reputation within an online network like Ecademy and they can all be different, but must be congruous (at least), and ideally be complementary – thereby enhancing each aspect, through the others, to build a more substantial overall reputation.

With our complex modern lives, we will also have a number of social and business contexts in which we may have a number of reputations and the degrees to which these complement eachother will depend on the aspects of our life which are interconnected.

For instance - If you belong to a sports team, through work, you may be perceived in a different way on the sports field to the way you are seen in the office – this is likely to either greatly enhance your reputation or to damage it. Likewise, going for a “few beers after work” could do the same – if you get drunk and obnoxious, it could be career limiting. If however, you “drink everyone under the table” it is likely to be good for your reputation (whether or not the medical profession agree!)

The same is true of your business. Everything about your business must align to create an overall favourable impression of your Reputation, such that people feel comfortable doing business with you and recommending you.

Two obvious key aspects to this are:

- Track record, i.e. the work you have done previously – who for, what you did and how well you did it?
- Current performance, i.e. who you are working for, what you are doing and how well you are doing it

In previous ROR blogs, some of the Essential Elements for successfully leveraging Return on Reputation have been described and further elements will be described in future articles in this series. Of particular importance in the context of Reputation in the Marketplace are A Clear Personal Proposition, and A Clear Business Proposition. One very effective method of explaining what you do in a way that people will both relate to and remember is to describe a previous project – the challenges, what you did and the outcome.

As described in ROR - Invest Your Time Wisely, you need to ensure that you have a balance between the time you spend on developing the size of your network and the time you spend developing the relationships within your network. It’s equally pointless having a huge network who don’t know who you are and/or what you do, as it is having a tiny network of people who understand you perfectly. Reputation in the Marketplace is about both depth of understanding and reach of your networks.

Also described in Invest your Time Wisely is the fact that your reputation is enhanced, or potentially damaged, by the quality of the people in your network – “You are judged by the company you keep”. The fact that someone has no connection with your area of business, either geographically or in terms of their type of work is irrelevant, some of the best opportunities may come from people completely unconnected with what you do! How to help ensure the quality will be described in an upcoming article about how to manage and maintain your network, briefly described in Point 5 of the Essential Elements of ROR.

The bottom line is that a high Return on Relationships is good for you and your network – it means more contacts, more opportunities and more business. But the work isn’t easier, it’s just less unpleasant – instead of hours spent selling, cold-calling and mail-shotting and being told to “go away”, it’s about spending time with people you Like, Trust and Respect, sharing experiences, clarifying each-others “Personal Propositions” and understanding your Business Propositions and ensuring that you are both capable of promoting each-others Reputation in the Marketplace to full mutual advantage. However, make no mistake - this is not a quick fix, it takes time to achieve, but a lifetime of meeting new people who you want to spend time with has to be better than a lifetime on the phone talking to people who don’t want to talk to you…….that’s the difference ROR can make to your life!