The Reputation Economy is Coming – Are You Prepared?
Date: Feb 28, 2011
By: Dan Schawbel
Link: Online Story
The Reputation Economy is Coming – Are You Prepared?
Last week, I hit a nerve when I wrote about how your online presence will replace your resume in the future. I believe that in order to compete in the global economy, you have to have an online personal brand. After you create that presence, you have to maintain it throughout the course of your entire life, before someone else does it for you. We are living in a world now where visibility creates opportunities and reputation builds trust. Submitting a resume to a job board, or cold calling randomly, will increasingly become ineffective until it simply doesn’t work at all. On the other hand, building an online presence and managing your reputation (like a brand) will become increasing effective and yield strong results.
In 2010, Microsoft released a survey that showed that 80% of HR professionals use online reputation information as part of their hiring process, and that 70% had rejected a job candidate due to what they found online. We’ve also learned, from Pew Research, that 57% search for their own name online. These stats, and other stats that I come across on a daily basis, lead me to believe that we’re living in a “reputation economy.” What people say about you, and the online presence you create, will determine your success or failure in this economy.
What is the reputation economy?
The reputation economy is an environment where brands are built based on how they are perceived online and the promise they deliver offline. It’s a marketplace where professionals are treated like products, and are rated, commented on, and judged based on reputation. Positive brand interactions will amount to new opportunities and negative ones will diminish a brands reputation publicly. In a sense, this economy will create a marketplace that will serve as a modern permanent record for personal brands, and a centralized database for recruiters worldwide.
How to build a reputation online
You establish your reputation and if it’s strong, then other people will help build your brand. A personal brand cannot scale, and a bad product cannot sell itself with good marketing. Your responsibility is to guard and manage your reputation like it’s the most sacred thing in the world to you. Here are some key ideas to think about as you’re building your reputation:
1. Become known for one thing. If you try and be everything to everyone, you will end up being nothing to no one. Attention spans are decreasing and multi-tasking has become the norm, so if you want to stand out, you’re going to have to select a defined niche that you can conquer. If you try and be the finance and marketing expert, people won’t remember you when they need those services. If you become the go-to-expert in your field for a specific skill or topic, then people will remember you, and do business with you.
2. Build your product before you market it. Create an online presence, with a blog and social network profiles, before you start contacting the media, commenting on blogs, and speaking publicly at events. By establishing your profiles and site first, you have places where people can find you, join your mailing list, and interact with you directly. If you market your brand without creating your product, then you will lose long-term engagement opportunities.
3. Turn opportunities into hard results and make them visible. Everyone is looking to see what you’re capable of before they start working with you. It’s the reason why your first job, your first book, and your first internship are the hardest to obtain. Many consultants will do free work to get case studies to charge money for new work. Make sure your work and results are visible online so that they can attract new opportunities for you. Leverage everything you have, but remember to get permission from your clients beforehand.
4. Actively contribute to your marketplace daily. You can’t afford to go a day without updating your status on social networks. The speed of this reputation economy is forcing us to always be out there. If people aren’t seeing your name, face, and hearing your voice, then you will be forgotten fast.
How to measure your reputation online
Your online reputation is based on numbers and chatter. How many followers, friends, fans, and how influential you are, will determine how you’re treated by society and how successful you’ll be in the reputation economy. Here are some ideas to contemplate as you build your reputation online:
- Search for your name daily. It’s time to be paranoid because what other people say about you online will affect your personal brand. If you don’t care enough to ensure that what they are saying is positive and accurate, other people will notice and lose respect for you. Use sites such as SocialMention.com, BackType.com, Google.com/Alerts, BoardTracker.com, and TweetBeep.com. Be proactive and reactive to online mentions of your name and you will be able to protect your online image for years to come.
- The recommendation engine. As you know, word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing a brand. The reason why services like Yelp.com have taken off is because people trust other people’s endorsements of products and places. It’s the reason why referrals are the number one source of candidates for jobs and why LinkedIn allows you to recommend people on their service. It’s how Facebook has been built on the “like” system, and why they purchased Pursuit.com to compete against LinkedIn. By getting yourself out there, more people can recommend you, and the number of endorsements (and who they’re from) will help you build a stronger reputation.
- Got Klout? Recently, Klout.com has received some attention because companies are using it to connect to influencers in their respective markets. I agree with Jeremiah Owyang when he states that it offers an incomplete view of a person because it doesn’t take into account offline influence and community sentiment. Due to my online presence, I have a score of 72, which has gotten me a perk. Jay Leno has a score of 62, yet is paid one million dollars per hour speaking and has millions of people watching The Tonight Show. Obviously their is imbalance, but the concept will win in the long-term. Due to the competition and reputation economy, companies need metrics to separate influencers from non-influencers and Klout is the first major step in that direction.
- What do your colleagues think of you? Part of the reputation economy is about you as a professional. Honestly.com, much like how Glassdoor.com has anonymous reviews of CEO’s and companies, rates professionals on productivity, relationships, skill and integrity. Based on your past performance, people can see if you would be good or bad to work with in the future. It’s important that your tuned in to sites like this so that you’re aware of what people are reading about you.
Prepare yourself for the reputation economy today
The economy is moving in one direction and one direction only. Take time to invest in your online reputation and you will be more confident, more connected, and more desirable to work with. Your reputation is not solely in your hands, but you can influence how you’re perceived in your marketplace. Become an active and respected member of your community and always deliver above expectations.
Dan Schawbel, recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, a full-service personal branding agency. Dan is the author of Me 2.0, the founder of the Personal Branding Blog, publisher of Personal Branding Magazine, and a popular personal branding speaker.