It does not matter whether your reputation is accurate or not; people
are going to judge you by it and make their decisions on it. It is an un-
fortunate fact that the world is too crowded and hectic for most peo-
ple to stop and take the time to make a careful judgment about you or
your business after collecting and weighing all of the evidence avail-
able. Instead, people are far more likely to rush to a snap judgment
based on the first information they see—and then use that judgment
to decide whether they will date, befriend, do business with, hire, or
Your reputation is the sum total of how you are seen by the pub-
lic. It is all of the facts and judgments that people make about you. It
can be based on news, gossip, rumors, public records, photos, personal
experience, and anything else people use to form their opinions.
Reputation is more than just “good” or “bad,” although both are
part of reputation. Reputation is all of the judgments people make
about you: Are you considered an innovator or a leader? Do people
think of you as trustworthy and loyal? Do you have a reputation for
being good with details or a master of the big picture? Are you seen
as stoic or emotional? The list of all the parts of your reputation
could stretch many pages.
If you are a small business owner, the same concerns apply. Is
your company compared to a Ford Pinto or to a Mercedes Benz? Is
it seen as down-market like Wal-Mart or cheap-chic like Target?
Positive like Johnson & Johnson or negative like Enron? Growing
like Google or shrinking like Alcoa? A leader in customer satisfac-
tion like Southwest Airlines or a laggard like United? The reputation
of a business drives sales and growth; customers are unlikely to buy
from a business with a tarnished reputation, especially if there are
other alternatives available. Some investors even think that almost
two-thirds of a company’s value is driven by its reputation.
ure has been confirmed on Wall Street; in many corporate buyouts,
billions of dollars are attributed to “goodwill”—Wall Street jargon for
having a good reputation that encourages consumers to buy whatever
the company is selling.
17Your Online Reputation Is Your Reputation