Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Benjamin Franklin said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” In fact, if you google the word reputation, you’ll end up with millions of results. That’s because it’s so important.  

Abraham Lincoln once linked reputation to character saying, Character is like a tree and reputation is the shadow it casts. Those are some heavy words!  

Ok, so why the heavy lecture today? Well, your reputation is your most valuable asset. More than your skills, more than your resume, more than your awards. It’s basically your legacy, it is what you leave behind and what precedes you.  

In business, we often talk about how if someone has a good experience they may tell three people, but if they have a bad experience, they tell 100. Now multiply that by 1000 (or more) for social media! But it’s not just true for the business world. You are your own brand! What you do versus what you say and how you behave is evidence of your personal values.  

You’re never done building your reputation. That’s how important it is. You start the minute you can talk! We teach people how we want to be treated and how we want to be remembered – all based on our character and reputation. What does that sound like? Trust 

Here’s what it boils down to: be intentional and be consistent. Pretty simple, right? Socrates said: The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear. Basically, don’t just talk about being loyal, reliable, helpful or driven: Be that way. Be unwavering about it. 

Think about it: Who do you trust more – the friend that is on time, every time, does exactly what he says he’ll do and does it well; or the friend that’s habitually late, flighty and unorganized? Sure, they may both be fun to hang out with, but who will you trust to help you with something important? 

When it comes to building your business or your personal brand and developing a powerful network, you need a reputation as someone who is authentic, grounded and helps and highlights others, and walks their talk. Your reputation is your currency – and it doesn’t fluctuate like the market!  

So, in addition to lifting others up and being consistent, always go above and beyond. Be unexpectedly “more.” Send a personal note when an email would do. Offer extra help when everyone else is gone. Give more than is called for. You get it.  

Finally, don’t fake interest. Remember, your body language will give you away. Lean in, and show you’re invested in the time, person, topic and activity. Whether you’re involved in your community (and you absolutely should be!), volunteering your time and expertise, or negotiating a business deal – you are your best salesperson! Guard your reputation like your life depends on it – because it does!