An important lesson to remember in work and life is that respect isn’t something that is earned once and kept forever. It is important to maintain it, and doing good work isn’t always enough. Your professional credibility is enhanced, or diminished, by the other things you do. To avoid undermining yourself or your work, look out for these key contributors that erode your reputation:
1. You aren’t careful about your social media presence.
You probably already know that more employers than ever are observing potential candidates’ social media feeds. Showing restraint about what you post to any social media platform is critical, but be especially careful about what you’re saying on LinkedIn. Anyone who you’re connected with can view your comments, so stay neutral or consider creating professional profiles that are separate from your personal ones.
2. You request LinkedIn favors without offering something of value.
Say you have a connection that is more of an acquaintance. You may have never met them in person. If you see that they’ve just connected with an Associate Creative Director at one of the top agencies in your area, don’t send them a request to make an introduction. It is unrealistic to expect them to risk their own credibility by recommending someone they don’t know.
The same goes for asking people you know only vaguely to endorse or recommend you. At the very least, it is better to write a thoughtful, personalized email to that person. A better option is to ask someone who can and will vouch for you to make a more formal introduction.
3. You send out communications that are poorly written or riddled with typos.
Although we are not all writers, there is a baseline for business communications, especially in a communications-related field. Your communications reflect your professionalism and attention to detail — and if you’re in a client-facing role, they also reflect your company. Make sure you’re casting yourself in a good light. To ensure you’re being thorough, run spellcheck, and then review these writing tips that will help you sound more professional.
4. You deliberately lower the bar on the value of your work.
Your role is to be the expert, and your opinions are based in facts or opinions you trust; leave no room for anyone to doubt what you are saying. Keep your language strong and confident. Banish phrases like, “Well, if it were up to me,” “In my humble opinion,” “I think”, “I’m pretty sure,” or “It’s my feeling that…” Say what it is that needs to be said, without inviting your audience to doubt your authority.
5. You talk negatively about yourself.
Here is a little-known fact: People look to you for their first impressions. If you’re berating yourself, they will think it is appropriate for them to do so as well. This ranges from really offhanded or seemingly innocent comments, such as, “Oops! I’m such a klutz!” to when someone gives you professional criticism about your work, saying something like, “Yeah, that was really stupid of me. I don’t know what I was thinking.” If you made a gaffe, resist the temptation to belittle yourself.
6. You instantly agree with someone who criticizes your work.
It doesn’t matter what your job is or how far up the ladder you are, people are always going to have suggestions about your work. Be willing to stand up for the value of your contributions. Admittedly, if you’re just starting out, you should learn as much as you can, but don’t be concerned about speaking up each time someone makes a comment. Push back with respect, and defend your position with facts and experience, not feelings. Showing confidence in your own work will make others confident about your abilities.
7. You can’t take it when someone criticizes your work.
Again: it doesn’t matter what your job is or how far up the ladder you are, people are always going to have suggestions about your work. Sound familiar? Being combative about routine feedback will quickly earn you a bad reputation. Knowing how to gracefully accept well-meaning criticism is a key way to help you learn and grow as a professional.
8. You lack follow-through.
Delivering on your promises is a huge part of earning trust — both in work and in life. At work, not making good on things you’ve committed to can put unnecessary strain on your colleagues, especially if your deliverables are part of a larger project.
Start protecting your credibility now. Make sure your hard work shines through. By taking a few simple and consistent steps, you can avoid jeopardizing your professional credibility.