Sunday, November 21, 2010

Build and Protect Your Reputation

We’ve all heard the saying “integrity is doing the right thing even when nobody’s watching.” Integrity is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days without people really understanding the importance and the impact of having, or NOT having it. The definition of integrity is to adhere to moral and ethical principles or being sound moral character. In essence it is simple honesty or doing the right thing.

Now that sounds like a pretty simple definition to me. So why is it so few people today have it? The only answer I can come up with is that people underestimate its importance. They get caught up in this fast, competitive world where a handshake doesn’t close a deal, only a signed contract does, and they think they have to bend the truth, embellish a story, or outright lie to get an edge. Wouldn’t you think that someone who actually does what they say they’re going to do, delivers when they promise, and whose handshake can be depended upon would have the edge? Today they stand out like a beacon on a foggy night.

Years ago I had a client who used to call me about projects that had nothing to do with my basic business. I would source a vendor, determine a price, manage the project until delivery, markup the price to make a profit, and then invoice it. I continually offered to refer the vendors directly to him so that he could save some money. When I finally inquired one time as to why he called me about products he knew we didn’t produce his answer was simple “I know you’ll look after it and it’ll be done right.”

What he was saying to me was that he trusted me to solve a problem even if it wasn’t my core expertise and he was prepared to pay me well to do so. By doing the right thing and having a reputation for integrity, a single client put thousands of dollars into my pocket. What did it cost me? Nothing! I was going to do the right thing anyway. You see it takes no additional effort or time to do the right thing vs. the wrong thing. Remember, it takes a long time to build up that kind of trust with a customer, but it only takes one incident of doing the wrong thing to destroy it.

So set yourself apart starting today by being the person known as the one who always does the right thing. Over time not only will you feel proud of your reputation, but good things will happen as a result of owning it.

To your success!

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