Lida Citroen has over 20 years of experience in the reputation management field, and has just written a book about how you can manage your online reputation. (You should buy it here!)
How did you get started in the reputation management field?
Throughout my career in marketing and communications, the piece of the puzzle I was always most interested in was the reputation and how reputation management created opportunity.
I began my professional career in Los Angeles, first in the entertainment field, then working in on Public Relations team for Max Factor cosmetics, an icon in the entertainment/consumer products industry. The company leveraged its rich legacy, history and reputation to extend the brand to new markets, to build customer loyalty and to create visibility in the marketplace. This was great work!
Throughout the next 15 or so years, I had the good fortune of working with leading companies, non-profits and executives on brand development and marketing. In each case, the reputation was protected and promoted very carefully and intentionally. This began my passion and curiosity with reputation management as a career.
Reputation management: Why is it so important?
We’ve all heard that “your reputation precedes you.” Well, that can be good or bad. If I perceive someone as arrogant and difficult to work with, I’m less likely to offer them an opportunity to be on a critical project. Likewise, if I perceive you to be an expert in your field, who brings integrity and collaboration to your work, I might seek you out amongst your competitors… and even pay you more!
Your reputation is your most critical and valued asset. It is the sum of how your beliefs, values and goals are exhibited through your behavior. That behavior creates perception within your target audience. Their perception of you (how they feel about you) determines whether they assign you opportunity or not.
What have you personally done to manage your reputation?
First, I’m very intentional about my reputation. I carefully evaluate all the ways my behavior creates perception — from the way I dress, to my tone of voice, body language and posturing in business and the community. I am human, so of course I make mistakes, but I approach relationships, positioning, messaging and my personal brand marketing with intention and thought as opposed to leaving it all to chance.
Second, I clearly articulate my values. I let my target audience know what is important to me. For instance, I tell people that serving the community is part of my value set. I believe in giving back and paying it forward. Then, I act in ways that demonstrate my commitment to those values. In this case, I donate my time to help returning military veterans develop their personal brands to become more marketable in the corporate arena. This is how I build credibility for this aspect of my reputation: I walk the talk.
In addition, I have created tremendous visibility for myself and my company through generosity (tied closely to my “paying it forward” value). I share content on my blog, in social networking forums, answering questions on LinkedIn, celebrating the success of others on Twitter, etc. I am active online, in an intentional way, and that has enabled me to build my reputation nationally — and internationally! — through consistent tone, messaging and positioning.
What results have you seen from your own efforts?
Aside from the fact that I have garnered numerous paying clients from my efforts, I have seen communities develop around the topic of reputation management, personal branding, empowerment and more. I don’t take credit for all of them, but it is gratifying to know that I sparked much of the dialog around competitive advantage and creating power through personal branding.
Another result I’m seeing comes in the sales of my new book, “Reptuation360: Creating power through personal branding,” (Palisades Publishing, 2011). I have tapped into my social network to help promote and endorse the book and the tremendous volume of sales I’ve seen in just the first couple of months tells me it’s working! On my Facebook fan page, I’ve created dialog and promotion for the book, and the number of new followers keeps growing… on Twitter I’m seeing people talk about the book and the value they’ve derived. All of this is from my leveraging of my reputation to create an online following.
When I run into someone in an airport or online or after a presentation I’ve given and they comment on something they’ve read in my book, on my blog, about me in the media, I know it’s working.
What clients have you done reputation management for?
I continue to work in the corporate arena, creating brand programs and revising existing brand marketing for companies around the U.S.
My individual personal branding clients are typically very senior-level leaders or high profile professionals. They have seen success and are at a place where they would like to leverage their career success to do something more. In some cases, they want to make more money. In some cases, they want to change the world (through education reform, financial innovation, technology, thought leadership). I work with industry leaders, but not politicians or celebrities.
I wrote the book to help those of us who are not at that high profile level. In my book I share numerous stories, case studies and examples of professionals and leaders who have encountered challenges and solved them through intentional personal brand strategies!
What results have they seen so far with reputation management?
Reputation management and personal branding is what creates opportunities for us. When we build a strong and compelling reputation, then we become known for something we desire. For me, that is as “an innovative and passionate expert in personal branding,” for someone else it may be as a “collaborative leader in the telecom industry” or maybe “a teacher with empathy and compassion.”
Personal branding also gives us the opportunity to build credibility. As you build your reputation and become known for your values and talents, you can demonstrate credibility by “walking the talk.” This helps solidify your reputation to others.
Do you have any advice for dealing with negative comments in open communities?
In open communities or in person, negative comments and gossip always hurts. However, if you can take the approach that “all feedback is a gift” then you use negative comments to evaluate and identify opportunities to move you in the direction of the personal brand you desire.
In my book, “Reputation 360: Creating power through personal branding,” I share numerous case studies of individuals who leverage their personal brands to build the reputations they desire. In one case, I talk about a client of mine who overheard two women discussing her at a company holiday party. She was shocked to hear the way they described her: They saw her as arrogant, difficult and non-collaborative. She saw herself completely differently! She knew herself to be warm, approachable and transparent. Receiving this feedback, however, gave her valuable insight. Her behavior with her staff had created their perception (their reality) and her reputation. She could now become more intentional about changing that perception, through behavior that supported the reputation she desired for herself.
What dashboards do you recommend for reputation management?
I’m a believer in Ego Surfing: Googling yourself on a regular basis to see what shows up online about you. Get in the habit of typing in your full name, with quotation marks (and city, state if your name is common) regularly. You never want to walk into a meeting and have the other person know something about you you didn’t know!
“Google Alerts” are also easy for individuals and businesses to set up. Google will send you an email alert when your name appears online. Unfortunately, if you have a common name, you will see many iterations of your name in the alerts. Better to see all than see none, however.
What’s ONE thing that a business can do today to help manage their reputation online?
Pay attention (and listen)! With billions of users online, sharing information and recommendations, and venting their frustrations, businesses need to listen and monitor the conversation. Becoming an active voice in the online conversation allows businesses to be more proactive (overhear negative perception and changing behavior to affect that perception), respond to the needs of their customers, get credit and praise for successful work and build loyalty with their customers.
I remember a few years ago I was frustrated with a small coffee maker I had. For some reason, it decided to quit working in the same way it had for months. Without disparaging the brand of coffee maker, I posted a quick post on Twitter, like: “@Keurig. Why did my coffee maker stop loving me today?” Within moments, the company contacted me directly and offered to help me troubleshoot the problem. That is attentive customer service!
Thank you very much for allowing me to interview you, Lida! And if you have any questions for Lida, please leave them in the comments!
Tweet how much you liked this post! “I just read a fabulous interview with @Lida360 on getting a better online reputation!” http://9.tc/TZ