Monday, August 13, 2007

Reputation by Association

"A great reputation earns respect and creates opportunity. A poor reputation chases everything good away." Jim Logan

My mother always used to tell me "you are judged by the company you keep." Well I knew what she meant and yet didn't always follow her advice. There were times when I hung out with less than reputable people because I saw the good in them and really believed that others did too.

That is not always the case and it is something I recently had to be reminded of.

In the past week I have had conversations with some of my members who had expressed their challenges working with a particular member. They shared with me this person's inability to understand the job hired for. And that it was frustrating them to deal with. They also said that this person could be hurting my reputation because of their experiences and who knows how many others who have also had similar encounters.

This really got me thinking because I have always been a trusting person who sometimes looks at life and people through "rose colored glasses." And because I have never had an issue with the person my members were referring to, it never occurred to me that there might be a problem. Granted, I have not had the opportunity to hire the member in question, so the only interactions we have had have been through our virtual events.

Which brings me to the point. People will assume that because a member is so visible and active she or he is good at what they do professionally and will often hire them. They will also assume that because of the person's visibility, the endorsement is there, albeit unspoken.

I tend to be one of those people who hire others on my gut instinct and sometimes don't bother getting any referrals. And I have been pretty accurate and fortunate in those interactions. However, once in a while our "gut" can be missing all the pieces of the puzzle and our reputation is at stake.

So what's a member to do? Here's my advice: Before you hire someone you met online (even if you have gotten to know, like and trust the individual) the first thing you need to find out is what experience others have had with the individual. You can do that by asking members or asking the person for referrals of customers. Find out who they have worked with, ask for recommendations and then make your decision. Just because someone is nice and likable does not necessarily mean they are good at what they do professionally.

Here's a great article I recommend:

10 Things You Want Your Reputation To Say About You by Mary Foley at

Protecting our reputation and finding out what others are saying about us, begins with open communication. And from a marketing perspective, our reputation both online and off must be protected as much as, if not more than, any of our other company assets.

Heidi Richards, Founder & CEO The WECAI Network

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