how can I build my reputation in my field?

A reader writes:

I have been working on developing my career and as part of that I am wanting to build up a strong portfolio of recomendations from people that I am working with. I am using LinkedIn and have started my own blog (on my career interest). I am seeking recommendations from people I work by simply asking them to pass on their postive feedback to my manager when they tell me how happy they have been with my work. However, I am not sure that they are taking the time to do that.

Is there any suggestions that you / your readers could make to assist me in collecting feedback in a non-pretentious way? I certainly take the time to offer the best of my skills and work hard to ensure my consistency in dealing with others and my work ethic. I would like to build that into a good reputation within the business as the “go-to” person for my career interest and I am not sure how to go about this.

This is actually a question that we talked about in last week’s episode of HR Happy Hour, so if you’re in the mood to listen rather than read, you can hear it discussed there (around 23:45).

My advice is this:  If you’re seeking to build up your reputation, it’s not really about compiling Linked In recommendations and emails to your boss (although emails to your boss are nice, and more people should send them).

Building up your reputation is, at its core, about being fantastic at what you do. The very best thing you can do is to be absolutely awesome at what you do, and get as many people as possible exposed to it. Volunteer your skills to nonprofits that need them. Blog (as you’re doing) and leave comments on other people’s blogs in your field. Become known in your industry’s corner of the blogosphere. Become active in your field’s professional associations. If you do all those things, you’ll find that your reputation starts to build, and suddenly people will know you.  That’s going to be a lot more effective in making you a go-to person than just accumulating Linked In recommendations.

That said, a more effective way to get Linked In recommendations, rather than sending a generic request for someone to write one, is to be very specific about what you’d like them to write about — such as “I was hoping you could write about my work on the ABC project.” People sometimes have trouble thinking of what to write, and a specific suggestion like this can help.

But don’t make those the cornerstone of your strategy.

{ 2 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Professional associations are good, but look for those that stretch your horizons a bit. Something somewhat related. For example if you are a graphic designer, you could join AIGA, but joining a marketing association, or a women-in-business association, or a minority business association, or the local chamber of commerce. These will allow you to network and be active in your community, while also broadening your network and giving you a unique opportunity to carve a niche for yourself. If you join AIGA, you're just one of thousands of other young professionals with the same goal.

    Also, if it's your cup of tea–don't just volunteer, join a board of a non-profit. Excellent way to get leadership experience and learn how businesses operate, and meet other business people. It's a lot of work though, and it can be dreary if it's not your forte.

  2. Anonymous*

    IMO just asking a bunch of people for public recommendations is the worst thing you can do. WHen I go to a linked in page with lots of recommendations I can always tell that most of them were just requested and the person who wrote it felt like they couldn't say no. DON'T be that person, it looks like you are trying to hide insecurity about your reputation behind gimmicks and its obvious as hell. Better to have no recommendations at all (becuase hey maybe you just aren't that active in linked in) than to have 20 worthless ones. The best I've seen is when people have 3-4 that are longish and specific — obviously really sincere. (by the way, technically rockstars aLSO get a lot of generic ones sometimes, because other people hope that you will see that they gave you one and will return the favor). Also its possible that people ARE saying nice things to your boss. Reputation building takes a while, its not a video game where you can get 10 points per linked in recommendation and 5 per email to your boss saying your awesome and then when you hit 100 points you win the game. It takes time. And don't underestimate being just plain regular pleasant to work with. I know a couple people who are just plain AWESOME at their job but are so darn annoying to work with, or have made so many people angry, that they have bad reputations. Think about the possibility that your constant pleas for praise are irritating people too.

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