Five ways you can build a professional business reputation
Find out why professionalism is so important in business, and five ways you can build a professional reputation in yours.
The way in which you approach running a business is vital. You need to have the right mindset – putting your customer or client front and centre of your thoughts – and you need to tackle everything you do with a professional approach.
What does this mean? Well, as the Small Business Chron notes, being ‘professional’ can cover many things, including:
- The way you talk
- Commitment to quality
- Taking responsibility
- Being ethical
Five ways you can build a professional business reputation
So, why does all this matter? What do you gain from taking a professional approach to your business? Here are five ways you can build a professional business reputation – and why each one is so important.
1) Make the right first impression
First impressions really count, especially in the world of business. If you look scruffy or are just dressed inappropriately for a meeting, are rude or turn up late for a meeting then the first impression you give off will be a negative one. And from there you’ll face an uphill struggle to win someone over.
Why? Because if you’re a business owner, you are your business. So if you’re sloppy and unprofessional, someone meeting you will assume the same of your business. After all, how can you put care and thought into the quality and reliability of your products or services if you can’t demonstrate that in your own behaviour?
You can give off a first impression in many different ways – not just in person. It’s important to consider every possible opportunity someone has of coming across you or your business, including phone calls, social media, your website, your employees and even branding on vehicles.
Here are some articles that will help you create a professional first impression for you and your business:
- How to get all five angles of your personal brand right
- Five emotionally intelligent tactics to make a good first impression
- Six tips to help you build the right brand image for your business
- Need brand inspiration? Four companies you can steal ideas from
2) Be safety and security conscious
If you’re blasé about the work you do, there’s a very real chance that you could make a mistake that leads to a security issue. Whether it’s a failure to take passwords seriously, a slapdash attitude to locking up at night or sending private data over email, there are many security issues we need to consider today.
A professional approach involves organisation and responsibility and helps you to sidestep security problems. Being safe as a business also means staying within the law, and keeping on top of and abiding by new regulations.
So make sure that you are on top of any industry developments and understand the legal and quality levels you need (or want) to maintain to protect your professional reputation. You can do this by:
- Becoming a member of industry bodies.
- Subscribing to industry magazines and blogs.
- Being an active and engaged member of your business community.
- Attending conferences and events.
3) Deliver on your promises
Being able to deliver on any promises you make in business – on budget and on time if possible – is the key to a professional approach. So, if you have a large project, order or promise to deliver on, make sure you approach it professionally.
This may mean taking your idea or promise, mapping it out then delegating the right tasks to the people who will help you to make it happen. Don’t wait until you’re up against an immovable deadline to realise you can’t make this happen alone.
It only takes one failed order or substandard service to shake a customer or client’s faith in you – and damage your professional reputation. So make sure you’re always prepared and organised. So you can live up to your promises and maintain your reputation as someone worth doing business with – and coming back to for further business.
4) Maintain quality control
Being professional means caring about the work that you do. It’s about never having a ‘this’ll do’ mentality – you need to put the same level of care and quality into every project, product and service, no matter how small.
Having pride in what you do and ensuring that your work is the highest possible quality will help you establish a reputation for professionalism, making it easier not just to grow your business, but to charge appropriately for what you sell.
How? Because if you have a reputation for delivering quality every time, you can afford to charge more than your competitors. Customers and clients will want to come to you because they love what you produce and can trust they’ll always get a level of quality they won’t find elsewhere.
And don’t write off the small orders or projects, assuming they don’t matter. Take as much care with an order worth pennies as you would your biggest customer. Make sure every customer walks away loving what you do, and happy to recommend you or return to you for more business in future.
It’s not just the quality of your products or services you need to maintain. Customer service also plays a big role in the impression a customer has of your standards or quality, so make sure every touchpoint a client has with your business is positive. You’ll find some helpful advice in these articles:
- Sell online? Why great customer service is vital
- How to use customer service as a marketing tool
- Three ways to encourage your staff to be more customer focused
- Five signs you need to rethink your customer experience strategy
5) Use social media properly
Social media is such an important tool for businesses of all sizes today – used properly it’s a powerful tool for building your brand, following, reputation and sales. Used badly it can also quickly damage each of them! (You only have to Google ‘social media business fails’ to see examples of what NOT to do, like these).
So how confident are you that your social media activity is helping to establish your business’ professional reputation? And that you’re not missing valuable opportunities? Or worse, that you won’t unintentionally damage your business reputation by not understanding the proper professional etiquette on social media?
If you need help with social media, we recommend reading some of the many articles on our site. We also have two excellent online courses aimed at helping freelancers and small businesses save time and use social media effectively:
(Twitter Tune-up in particular shows businesses and freelancers how to build the right professional brand on social media, and how to deal with the kind of situations that have landed many other companies in hot water!)
Are you building a professional business reputation?
As you can see, a professional approach to your business is crucial. ‘Being professional’ isn’t just a box you can tick once and forget about; building and maintaining a professional reputation is something you should do every day, in every aspect of your business.
It needs to be front of mind in every email or tweet you write, how you dress for every meeting or networking event, and how you prepare, make or deliver every item or service you sell.
So, after reading this, what opportunities can you spot to improve your business’ professional reputation? And what steps will you make today to start working on them?
Photo by Jimmy Chang