A strong reputation is all about trust. People must trust that you will perform as expected. Now it's possible to create a reputation on a single moment of brilliance, but for most of us, the more likely scenario is that our reputation is build on thousands of micro moments.
When you call when you say you're going to call.
When you submit a deliverable on or before a deadline.
When you acknowledge emails and respond in a timely manner.
When you show up.
So many people seem to act like this "little stuff" just gets in the way of their eventual greatness.
Their calendar is crowded, and they have to double or triple book.
They do their best work under pressure, so of course deadlines have to slip just a little.
Their inbox is so full; they can't be expected to answer every question.
They're busy; you'll understand when they cancel.
Tiny chinks in the armor, to be sure. But add them up and suddenly you can't trust that this person will meet the simplest, baseline requirement of a strong reputation: do what you say you will do.
And when that happens, when a mosaic of broken promises suddenly snap into focus, it becomes very difficult to do business. How can you move forward when even the smallest commitment is put under question? The foundation of the relationship becomes soft and uncertain.
You may think I'm being melodramatic.
You may think your co-workers and clients aren't affected by your foibles or that they "know how you are."
But I challenge to notice who in your circle always follows through and who does not; notice who comes to mind when you need to be certain the job gets done.
Your mental Rolodex will flip to those who have a reputation that you trust.
Now ask yourself if others perceive you the same way.
If not - change it. It doesn't take a big idea, a grand gesture, or a landmark decision.
All it takes is only making promises you can keep and keeping every promise you make.