A positive business reputation is a hard attribute to build and can just as easily be tarnished overnight if not handled with care. The way that people view you professionally is not a fixed impression as it can be instantly reevaluated. Warren Buffett said it best, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently”. With this perspective it is easy to see the underlining lesson to entrepreneurs and business professionals in the recent incident involving acting legend, Robert De Niro and rapper / business mogul, Jay-Z.
The synopsis of the incident is basically that there was a potential business dealing in which Robert De Niro wanted to involve Jay-Z. De Niro had reached out to Jay several times to follow up and discuss it but was upset that he had not received any response after multiple attempts. In all fairness, Jay is a pretty busy guy. And, we do not know the full details or actual events that occurred. Perhaps Jay had not even received the calls due to an assistant forgetting to let him know. There are many conclusions that can be drawn but the main lesson here is that every detail counts towards shaping the way that people view you.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or working your way up at a company in your chosen field, you are the CEO of your brand and reputation. While people often say “let your work speak for itself”, actions (or lack thereof) speak too. Sometimes louder. The most talented and skillful professional can be overlooked on a project or business deal if he / she has a negative reputation and known to be difficult or unresponsive.
How familiar is this situation? We’ve all sat in many meetings where a certain name is mentioned and everyone collectively rolls their eyes and starts issuing complaints about how difficult it is to track that certain person down to get a response. No one wants to work with said person because trying to contact them becomes exhausting and a job in of itself. Your co-workers can come up with many names to describe them: lazy, rude, unreliable, difficult, and dismissive. The list can go on. Don’t be that person.
It seems like pretty simple advice, right? Someone calls, you receive the message and respond back. An email comes into your inbox, you reply to it within a timely fashion. It seems like business, and even personal, protocol 101 but it’s almost astonishing the amount of people who do not follow this basic principle.
We live in an era of instant access – the boundary of business hours has become almost completely blurred. You would be hard pressed to find someone who does not carry a smartphone with them nearly every waking hour of the day minus bathroom time and sleep (although many still keep their phones close by in these scenarios). This makes it inexcusable to not get back to contacts in a timely manner when you have every method of communication right at your finger tips at all times.
While you may not find yourself in the same scenario as Jay-Z of being scolded at a Hollywood party by an industry legend, but on any level this should be a reminder of the business commandments or a word to the wise for all professionals.