We all know it takes time and effort to build your brand and reputation, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent to anyone, given the process is really very simple.
1. Make a start
This can be as simple as attending an industry event or meeting with a customer or supplier. I was delighted to hear Jean-Sébastien Jacques, chief executive of Rio Tinto, telling his people to get out of the office and meet with customers and suppliers. This is the easiest place to start.
2. Nurture your allies
There is nothing worse than having weak relationships at work; it makes your workplace toxic and makes you extremely unhappy. If you don’t have good relationships at work, you need to go on the charm offensive and build better ones. Don’t shy away from talking to the people you have the weakest relationships with — they often become the strongest allies.
3. Be clear about what you want
Have a purpose in your presence. There’s no point in being visible if you have nothing to say or no direction. Do your research, read the papers and learn about people, trends and market issues. Aim to form a view on key topics, or if something is new to you, ask people for their opinion. This is often the best way to access diverse thinking and understand differing perspectives.
4. Be strategic
In talking to a contact the other day I heard about a number of successful venture capitalists who engage her to bring high-potential startups into a room. It saves them weeks of meetings and, from one slightly longer meeting, they are able to select the people they want to mentor or invest in. Your time is precious — use it wisely.
5. Get out of your comfort zone
There’s no point just catching up with your friends. Successful people in business have strategic relationships with people they do business with, want to do business with or want to learn from. They talk about complex issues and they solve problems. This means you need to meet with people outside your current network. You will need to attend events on your own from time to time, but you need to get out of the office and away from your computer.
6. Be curious
There’s no shortage of chief executives talking about the importance of learning, of keeping abreast of change or risking being left behind. No-one wants to become obsolete. So if pain is your motivator, this is a pretty good incentive. However, what you may find is your curiosity will find its own legs and take you on a fascinating journey.
7. Keep at it
As the title suggest, consistency is everything, and building your brand and reputation requires a sustained effort. Do two things every month and make it a habit. Some months you might do more things, but don’t do less, you’ll lose your momentum.