Yes, your reputation is like an onion. It has layers, lots of them. And if you want to keep your reputation fresh and healthy then you need to make sure that you are effectively managing those layers at all times.

BNI is the core of your reputation. This is where you can relate to your fellow members first hand and get across your values and business acumen face-to-face. Your fellow members can see that you are passionate and expert in your field. The weekly meetings give you opportunity to maintain this reputation and keep it fresh in peoples’ minds who you are and what you stand for.

The middle layers represent the wider networks of yourself and your fellow members. The information that you communicate in each meeting is taken in to the wider business community by your networking colleagues and passed on to their contacts. The strength of your reputation is reflected in the way those you know talk about you when you are not there.

The outer layers of the reputation onion relate to mass marketing channels such as social media and your website. These touch points tend to be more company orientated and generally offer less opportunity to be personable. This is where your brand reputation is key. Those getting to know your company for the first time will initially look at these surface layers, before seeking affirmation from the people behind the brand. After all, people will always buy from people.

So improve the performance of your networking by effectively managing your reputation onion.

Take responsibility for any negative perceptions and put them right at source. If you have a healthy core then this will radiate out.

Don’t be something you’re not. You will only get work that you don’t enjoy or can handle. Be known for what you do and for doing it well. Be an expert in your field and an authority that people will seek out for advice and assistance.

Be proactive. Regularly evaluate your reputation and brand, seeking feedback wherever possible. Your BNI colleagues are a great starting point.

Give people your ‘best side’. Don’t leave others to draw their own conclusions. Give them the facts and figures first hand.

Grow the onion. Try ‘spreading the net’ a bit and attending some other networking events. BNI hold some excellent cross-chapter events where you can make new contacts and swell your network.

Remember, your reputation goes before you, so don’t let it trip you up. No one likes the smell of rotten onions!

Andrew Robins

Aaron Shaw