Beginning a new job or taking on a new role presents a unique and necessary opportunity to establish your brand reputation. How will you fit in and what will you be known for? Fundamentally, the answer to these questions frame your new brand. Don’t assume that your reputation that got you this role carries the same weight once you are hired. You have to build credibility with a whole new team while being your authentic self. Next, you will need to fit into an environment that has its own political culture. Creating rapport and reciprocally beneficial relationships with your colleagues and business partners will get you noticed more than working hard.

Here are the five steps to reputation-building success for achieving your personal brand goals.

Step 1: Manage first impressions. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” In the first 30 seconds of a job interview, your interviewer forms an opinion about you based on your physical presentation. By the four-minute mark, they’ve decided whether you’re eligible for the role based on the information and non-verbal cues you’ve provided.

In less time than it takes to listen to a single song on the radio, you’ve been deemed worthy or found wanting. Your personal appearance, vocal style, verbal patterns, and persona combine to paint a picture of your qualifications and capabilities.

The same rules apply to your first day on the job since each new introduction is a new inter-office first impression. Ask yourself, “How do people perceive me?” Most people believe they know how they come across – introverted and stoic, warm and friendly, authoritative and serious. Be proactive and eliminate any behaviors or gestures that might give mixed messages.

DO’s:
• Create a positive experience with everyone by ensuring that there is continuity between what you say, how you say it and how you look.
• Engage everyone the same, regardless of their status. You never know who can help you understand the lay of the land.

Step 2: Build mentors and sponsors. Don’t wait until you need someone or something to build your network. From day one in your new role, seek out guidance or ask open ended relevant questions. After you’ve met, remember to send a note of appreciation. The mentors you engage today become your sponsors tomorrow.

DO’s:
• Adopt an attitude of genuine curiosity by seeking out advice on how you can best integrate into the culture.
• What can you contribute from your past experiences that can bring immediate value? Share freely and earnestly help others. Meaningful contributions rest on thoughtful delivery.

Step 3: Make your boss your #1 customer. Understand the evaluation metrics by which you’ll be measured. Make sure your work is aligned with your boss’s expectations. Get started by asking, “If we were talking one year from today, what would’ve had to happen for you to believe I was essential to the business?” Ask: “What are your priorities for me?” and “What criteria should I take into account when making decisions?”

DO’s:
• Align your efforts and focus with your boss’s mission to help showcase your value.
• Dig deeper to uncover how your boss prefers to work with you, including how often you two should meet, preference by email or phone and what time of day is the best time to communicate with them.

Step 4: Conduct reality checks. Your boss may be your number one customer, but they’re not the only one you’re selling to. How do you treat the people in HR during onboarding? What would your new colleagues say about you as a teamplayer? Would your business partners praise your depth of knowledge?

Remember: having a good recommendation or performance evaluation from your boss isn’t enough to propel you forward. Rather, how you’re perceived across the board(room) impacts your brand and your likelihood of future success.

DO’s:
• Questions are free, but the insight you gain from the feedback process is invaluable. Go back to your networks and ask them for regular, specific feedback.
• Qualify feedback. I call this process “peeling the onion.” What layers lie beneath the surface of your public brand? Ask those you trust if these less-obvious truths will help or hurt your end goals?

Step 5: Make others the hero in your story. Brand management requires constant care and attention. You need to be your own best PR person, but expand your campaign to include others! As part of your branding strategy, seize any opportunity to give credit to those where it’s due. Recognition isn’t only about acknowledging someone publicly, it’s about bringing out the best in people.

DO’s:
• Find opportunities to mentor others, without being officially asked. You show respect by sharing as much information as possible.
• Look at recognition as a gift to helping others feel great about themselves. Make it a daily practice to honor someone with inspiring feedback.

The Bottom Line
Don’t assume that your title speaks for itself. Boost your impressions in the early stages of your new role by making sure you’re a great fit who is committed to making a difference.
While there is certainly no “perfect gameplan” approach in a new role, focusing on the five essential steps will certainly set you up for success.

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