For many years of my entrepreneurial life; I locked myself up in a silo working away on my next new venture. All alone. Working like a dog and barely peeking out of my entrepreneurial cave to see what the rest of the world was up to.
You see, it’s not just about your grand idea and vision to build a company. And it most certainly is not about working 25 hours in a 24 hour day. The reality is our success as entrepreneurs is extremely dependent on this:
Our Relationships & Reputation.
My in depth conversations with many successful entrepreneurs have revealed how critical your reputation with real relationships are. Both Brandon Mills, Co-Founder of SocialVibe and BlockBeacon; and Jeff Walker, the multi-million dollar entrepreneur and Founder of Internet Alchemy, Inc; named this as one of the main reasons for their wildly successful companies.
But what does this mean and what can we do as entrepreneurs to improve our relationships and repair our reputations? Well, I found the perfect guy to ask.
Serial entrepreneur Mike Muhney is the Co-Inventor and Co-Founder of the highly acclaimed relationship management software company ACT! (now referred to as Sage ACT! under it’s new ownership), and is also the Co-Founder and CEO of VIPOrbit, a relationships management software company for mobile devices.
Since he’s a guru in this domain, I reached out to Mike for some wisdom. Lucky for us, he shared 3 vital rules for how we as entrepreneurs can better manage our relationships and reputation.
Rule #1: First — Don’t Blow It Out of the Gate
Like the guy last week handing me his business card without even saying “hello”; telling me he is just doing some “networking” and then walking away. What do you think my impression is of this guy? Well — it’s not good — I can tell you that. His reputation is already damaged and our relationship is off to a non-existent start. He pretty much blew it because I can tell he doesn’t really care about building a relationship with me.
Mike put it this way: “First, it’s important to present yourself in a way that reflects the authentic you: appearance, demeanor, tone and body language. But above all else, you should always combine authenticity with trust. Nothing of lasting value can be built without a foundation. Meaningful connections, those leading to relationships from which you and your business can thrive, are built on a solid foundation of authenticity and trust.”
Rule #2: Your Reputation Will Rot If You Let It
Maintaining multiple business relationships is not easy. And I’m not talking about some random broadcast posts you do on [entity display="Facebook" type="organization" subtype="company" active="false" key="facebook" ticker="FB" natural_id="fred/company/15317"]Facebook[/entity] and Twitter where you have 50,000 followers and you’re passing emoticons out like candy. I’m talking real relationships with real value. You have to show you care. You have to follow up. You simply cannot sit back and eat bon-bons thinking your relationships and reputation are taking care of themselves. Trust me — they’re not.
As Mike says: “Once you’ve established a solid reputation, it’s easy to think the work is complete. Big mistake. Your reputation is “maintained” only by your efforts. And once you establish a good reputation; you must further it. First — keep a thorough record of each relationship. Use some kind of system to keep track of your relationships. Do what you said you’d do. Be where you say you’ll be. Follow through as you promised you would. Maintaining your reputation requires discernment, diligence, and discipline in each relationship you’ve built. Strong relationships don’t happen by accident; I believe they’re built on four elements: time, intensity, trust, and reciprocity. As your relationships grow stronger, so will your reputation.”
Rule #3: If You Blow It; Repair Your Damaged Reputation Immediately
Have you ever failed to do something you said you would? Simply dropped the ball and made a fool of yourself? That’s okay — you’re not alone. We all make mistakes. We’re human for pete’s sake. But the key is not in the mistakes we’ve made; it’s in what we do next that counts.
Mike gives some sound advice: “Repairing a damaged reputation begins with an accurate assessment: Who are you? What did you do or not do? What must be done to correct it? If you need, get a second opinion from a few trusted friends who can give you a more balanced viewpoint on what you’ve done and what you need to do to fix it. Put your damage control plan into action. Whether you need to reach out to specific people or publish information online, you have to follow through. And this must become part of the “new” you. Ingrained, instinctive, and disciplined behavior will restore your reputation.”
I was once known as a mad scientist hiding in my hole working on my big ideas as an entrepreneur. My reputation was as such and my solid business relationships were minimal.
But no more. Woke up to the reality of relationships and reputation being everything in business. The sooner you realize it really is not what you know — but more tied to “who” you know and your reputation with each person — the sooner you’ll be on the road toward entrepreneurial success.
NOTE: If you don’t know me, I’m Eric. Husband, father & life-long entrepreneur…
If you’re an entrepreneur, let’s you and I connect right here.
Seriously. Here’s a killer formula:
Your Wisdom + My Wisdom = More Success
My email is: eric at mightywisemedia dot com.