I went to a business networking meeting, this morning.
At each of these meetings, one of the people attending is to give a 15 minute talk to the others in the room, either highlighting their skills (but not directly selling) or telling people something interesting about them – perhaps a life experience.
The person who was supposed to turn up to give this talk (they’re all pre-booked, well in advance), didn’t show up. This means that – on the hop – someone else in the group has to give a talk.
This is the third time I have attended one of these meetings where this particular person hasn’t turned up to do their talk, despite being booked in to do so.
I now view this person as wholly unreliable, having never met them in person, and would not consider ever doing business with them.
What a silly, and completely unnecessary, way to give me (and others) that impression.
If I say I’m going to turn up for something – particularly where I’d be letting others down in not doing so – there has to be a damn good reason for me not to attend.
Even if I have a heavy workload, or perhaps a hangover (never happens – honest!), I still turn up to things if I’ve already said I will.
Having a reputation for reliability isn’t hard – just don’t let people down all the time.
However, once you have a reputation for unreliability, it’s really hard to shake, and – like it or not – people talk.
Next up: integrity.
I’ve actually posted about this before, but the generic advice ‘work hard, be nice’ will go a long way in ensuring you maintain a reputation for integrity.
If you treat clients (and colleagues, friends, and family) with respect and you work your backside off, it’s hard for them to say anything bad about you.
If you’re honest about how much things will cost, how long they will take to complete, whether, in fact, you’re the right person for the job, and you hold your hands up should you make a mistake, then you won’t go far wrong.
I often turn down work where I don’t think I’ll do that good a job for a client: I’m not a journalist, I can’t really write business reports or white papers, I’m not so hot on writing funding applications, and there are copywriters with more experience of certain sectors than me.
Why would I want to take on some work, take money off the client, and – in return – hand them substandard work? Both of us will be unhappy and my integrity would be called into question.
…and that’s the problem: once you’ve lost your integrity, it’s very hard to get it back.
Bad news travels much quicker than good news. I could do five good jobs, back to back, and the praise wouldn’t spread as fast as the criticism I’d get from doing one really poor job.
Think about big brands. They could do good things for most of the year, but the one thing that will spread like wildfire across social media is e.g ‘misleading customers on the price of strawberries’.
So, reliability and integrity. Hang on to these two, because it’s very hard to claw your way back once you have a reputation for lacking either trait.