17 Ways To Build a Reputation

Updated October 3, 2022

A person's or business's reputation is a powerful asset if others considers it to be positive. Being reputable can distinguish one professional from another or influence customers and colleagues. Building a good reputation as an individual or a company takes time and effort, and the success of a person or business can depend on it. In this article, we explore why a good reputation matters in business, the benefits of it and how to build or increase your own reputation.

Why is it important to build a good professional reputation?

A good professional reputation can affect job offers, promotions and team morale, as well as your customer base, growth and profits. In a highly competitive environment, the reputation of a person or business can help people make decisions. For example, a hiring manager with two equally qualified candidates might select one who is known to have a good work ethic, or a customer needing a new furnace might choose a company with slightly higher prices because it has great reviews.

People or businesses with strong reputations can also:

  • Attract better people or opportunities

  • Command a larger salary or selling price

  • Attain leadership roles and influence

  • Keep loyal customers who buy more products and services

  • Gain new customers who value a company's standing

  • Promote funding and better sales figures

  • Lead to better market values and lower capital costs

It is important to shape and manage a reputation continuously, and there are always opportunities to improve it if needed.

Related: 8 Steps to Find Your Personal Brand

17 ways to improve your reputation

Here are 17 ways to build or improve your or your business's reputation:

1. Be open and welcoming

Small actions such as welcoming and introducing yourself to new colleagues can lead to meaningful relationships. Engage with coworkers and customers in positive and creative ways, be generous with your resources and work within your community to show you value it. These actions make people know they are valued and respected and can result in better productivity and positivity.

2. Exhibit transparency

Being truthful and honest builds trust and can improve a business's or individual's reputation. Appropriately exercise full disclosure and refrain from concealing information and results from employees, customers or investors. For example, if a body repair shop owner ordered a specific part for a customer's car and it won't arrive for a full business week, openly sharing this information with the customer can build trust, despite the potential inconvenience.

Read more: 12 Examples of Business Ethics and Why They're Important

3. Keep your promises

Follow through on commitments and timelines, whether it means meeting deadlines, reviewing a colleague's work or resolving a customer service issue. Both your reputation and credibility grow when you fulfill commitments, and you can become known for dependable, reliable and trustworthy work.

4. Give more than what's expected

Another way you can build a reputation is doing more than what's expected or asked of you. For example, if a client asks for a 3% savings discount, offering a 5% discount might lead to further business. People appreciate added effort and generosity, and small gestures can impact your reputation by highlighting that you value your connection with customers.

5. Have a strong character

Showing concern and doing the right thing, even when it is difficult or unpopular, shows strong character and integrity, both as an individual and as a company. Reputations can improve by being ethical and not compromising morals. For example, a human resources employee is investigating potentially fraudulent activity, though they determine there was no wrongdoing. A close colleague in another department asks to know who was involved, and though they may find out another way, the human resources employee declines to share names, upholding their integrity.

Other ways to cultivate integrity include:

  • Tell the truth, even when faced with consequences.

  • Keep your promise to a coworker, even if it requires extra effort or time.

  • Refund a customer if you accidentally overcharged them.

  • Sell goods you would buy yourself.

Related: How To Maintain Professional Integrity in the Workplace

6. Mind your body language

Body language can convey a message without words, and people with strong reputations are mindful of their body language. Maintain eye contact and nod to show you are actively listening when others are talking. Effective body language can add strength to your verbal messages and directives, put others at ease and convey confidence. Understanding body language can also help you recognize unspoken issues or concerns others may have.

7. Cultivate a positive outlook

Businesses and leaders with excellent reputations typically keep a positive outlook and don't engage in gossip. Company morale can decrease if complaining is common, or your reputation might be put at risk if you degrade others.

Here are a few ideas on how to keep a positive outlook:

  • Refrain from whispering.

  • Change a negative subject to another topic.

  • Offer ideas and solutions to challenges or delays.

  • Share a compliment about someone when their name is mentioned during gossip.

8. Help others

Helping other people and businesses meet their goals is a great way to build your reputation. It proves you can work in a team environment and also shows goodwill beyond your own interests.

There are many ways to maintain a mindset of helping others, including:

  • Giving credit to others for good work

  • Complimenting and telling someone when they do a good job

  • Making introductions for contacts

  • Showing appreciation

  • Mentoring a colleague or young professional

  • Discussing the career path of those on your team

  • Offering to look over someone's work for feedback

  • Being a networking resource in your industry

9. Prioritize accuracy

Accuracy in business is important, and you can build a reputation by paying attention to the details. Spell names correctly, proofread documents and materials and review calculations to make sure they are correct. Being known as someone with a strong sense of skill, precision and efficiency can also increase performance, productivity and profits.

10. Be reliable and consistent

Consistency and reliability are good traits to have in business, and both affect a reputation. They can lead to repeated business, new customers or clients or a promotion. For example, a customer will probably continue giving business to a plumber who fixes a leaky sink on one visit rather than one who required three return visits to address the problem, even if the service costs vary. Continuously meeting deadlines, producing valuable work, being helpful and doing well in performance reviews help improve your status and reputation.

11. Take responsibility

Be humble and admit mistakes when they happen. Consider openly acknowledging an issue rather than finding an excuse or hiding it. Possessing responsibility is an act of integrity and can increase your reputation more than the error can harm it. For example, a landscaping company forgot to replace a diseased bush in one of their client's plant beds and resolved the issue by returning the same day, installing a new one and planting several additional flowers as a caring gesture.

12. Find solutions to problems

Anticipating an issue and reducing its impact or resolving it completely is an important skill in business. Develop ideas for solutions and be willing to share them. Whether an idea solves the problem is not as important as maintaining your reputation and being considered a creative helper and problem solver.

13. Turn negative feedback into opportunities

Negative feedback or reviews can become opportunities. With the right approach, a critic can become a loyal customer and greatly affect your business or personal reputation. For example, a company could follow up with a customer who left a poor review online or offer a refund to a patron who had an unpleasant experience. These customers might respect the gesture and try that business again or talk positively about the reaction and response to their friends and family.

14. Welcome challenges

Consider taking on additional projects or challenges, both in your personal and professional life. You can try leading a team or volunteering within your community. Taking risks might get you noticed, as it shows you can handle responsibility while supporting others. This might lead to more opportunities in the future and a stronger reputation.

15. Humanize yourself and your business

Be accessible to your customers and coworkers by eliminating corporate jargon, marketing phrases or promotional messages that can prevent your company from building an authentic reputation. Aim to engage more effectively with your audience, and be mindful of word choice when answering emails, updating social media or presenting in a meeting.

16. Present a powerful digital image

The online image of you or your business often directly relates to reputation. Presenting a professional image in the office and across social media accounts, marketing materials, professional websites or your resume and cover letter can show careful planning and thoughtful professionalism.

17. Learn from those you admire

Pay attention to the reputation of those you admire, whether it's an industry mentor you know or a public figure. Ask about their personal brand, or read books they've read or written about leadership and reputation. Learning about their career can help you understand how to build a solid reputation based on hard work, connections, talent, loyalty and support.

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