How to create a professional reputation

Spend time rewiring your brain, and finding the right collaborators, and you could reap the benefits in 2017, says Liz Kentish

There are many challenges when it comes to climbing the career ladder. On your quest for recognition and respect, you’re bound to encounter the occasional fire-breathing dragon. It doesn’t matter who you are, there will always be that one individual, armed with a dismissive glance or a crocodile smile, who can send your confidence into a downwards spiral.

And sometimes we’re our own worst dragon. If we can’t silence that little voice in the darkest corner of our mind – the one that whispers ‘be quiet, you don’t know what you’re talking about’ when we’re in the limelight – then we risk giving up before we’ve truly begun.

In the business world, some people are obviously more forthright than others. However, the level of confidence displayed doesn’t necessarily translate into experience or expertise. It’s just that those who exude confidence tend to encourage confidence in others.

We often get told to ‘believe in yourself’, but how exactly do we do that? For me, it’s about surrounding yourself with people who pull you up, instead of those who bring you down. If people believe in you, you might just believe in yourself. Think about assembling a peer group – like-minded people who you can bounce ideas off.

I believe we’re conditioned to assess our development based on what we’re not, rather than what we are. Formal appraisals and archaic organisational hierarchies can inadvertently breed negativity within a workforce; the former tend to draw attention to flaws, whereas the latter serves to remind people of their place. This can result in people feeling they’re never quite good enough.

Spend some time rewiring your brain. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses and analysing everything you do wrong, why not consider all the things you do better than anyone else?

Budding careerists may lack confidence when it comes to standing up in front of a crowd and declaring themselves ‘an expert’ in their field, but to create a name for yourself you need to recognise just how good you are at what you do and unapologetically showcase it for the world to see.

When aiming to establish a professional reputation, you need to be clear about your offer and know your market inside out. To communicate your chosen areas of specialism, you need to create a strong personal brand and be consistent with your public image. This involves venturing outside of your comfort zone and, quite simply, getting out there.

Most importantly though, it’s essential to be yourself and to be comfortable in your own skin. Accept the fact that not everyone’s going to like you – you don’t go to work to be liked, you go to make an impact.
Regardless of how you’re wired, confidence plays a key part when it comes to achieving your goals. If you can combine attitude with ability and aren’t afraid to say ‘yes’ to the unknown, then you’re on to a winner. Identify your dragon – see what’s stopping you – and slay it with the mantra: ‘I can do anything I put my mind to.’

This article first appeared in People Management

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