Are you using social networks to build your reputation online? Whether you already are or you are just getting started with sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Ning, building your online reputation is your biggest responsibility.
Here are five ways to make sure you do it right.
#1: Be Proud Of Being You
The first thing is, you have to be yourself. You have to be who you are. Because although you can get away with being fake for a little while, as soon as one person realizes that you're not who you say you are, your reputation is destroyed almost instantly because of the power of social networking.
So be yourself. And don't be afraid of being yourself. Realize that you have some gifts and some knowledge that people need to know about, and those that want to learn from you are going to gravitate towards you. Those that don't think you're worth listening to are basically going to ignore you. And it's at their peril, so don't worry about them.
#2: Transparency - Never Hide From Your Audience
The second thing about your reputation is you should try to be transparent at all times. This means you keep everything real with your audience.
For example, over the last year, I used social media to show you my move from Maryland to North Carolina, including drama with the movers, picking the house, and getting it set up. I also pulled back the curtain to show what it takes to run a product launch.
When I did my last product launch, I was Twittering every day what I was doing to get ready for this site. Most of the gurus out there would keep everything under lock and key, and I was being very clear, saying, "This is what I'm doing to get ready for this launch." It actually helped me have a better launch, even though I told everybody exactly what I was going to be doing.
They didn't think that they had some surprise or whatever like most people teach; they just were excited to be part of it and part of the story. So be transparent. Let people know what you're doing and why you're doing it, and they're going to learn how to trust you.
#3: Be Positive For Positive Results
The third way to build your reputation is to be positive.
There are folks out there who generally can do a good job of being negative. I don't know about you, but I don't find that to be a very long-term profitable strategy.
It may get you some attention at first and spark some controversy, but that's not the way to go. Be looking forward to the optimistic of your industry, of your business and what the results are going to be.
It would be easy for you to go onto Twitter or onto Facebook and talk about how you're having a bad day or this product sucks or this week sucks or this relationship sucks. But you're not really there for a support network, per se.
You'll find some of that. If you have something bad happen in your life, sharing it with your followers will be very therapeutic for you and you will get a lot of support back. But when you're just blasting negative things out, you're going to get negative things in return, usually.
So try to be positive as much as possible and look for the opportunities that are out there and look at them from that positive perspective.
#4: Build Your Reputation And They Will Come
The fourth thing you must do is to be patient. This is because, initially, your reputation is going to be built only by yourself and the first initial people who get to know you. But as time goes on and you get more followers and you build a larger network of friends and peers, your reputation will solidify to allow your business to grow.
Once it hits a tipping point, your reputation and business accelerates at a very quick pace.
So be patient and let it happen. Don't try this stuff out for a week and then come back to me next week and say, "Well, it didn't really work. I didn't really get any results yet." You've got to let social networking play out over a few weeks and then a couple months and so on. A year from now your business is going to be tremendously different compared to where it is right now.
#5: Contribute To The Conversation � Every Day!
The fifth thing about your reputation is you need to be someone that people look to as a contributor, not as a leech, not as a mooch, as a contributor.
You have to be willing to be involved in the conversation, and you have to be willing to give as much or even more than what you're going to get in return. The people who do that are growing so fast it makes my head spin.
I feel that I'm a pretty giving person but I see some other folks out there that just keep on giving, giving, giving and they just build up a huge following and that social capital is a real asset to your business. So you need to make sure that you're contributing as much as possible to the conversation.
I don't mean that as just go around randomly and try to help people. Within your specific task, your specific industry, the things you know well, you need to be at the forefront of letting people know how to do what you know how to do without charging them money at first.
They'll come and find your site and your products and they'll pay you for that as time goes on and their needs grow. With social networking you need to be building your reputation up first.
If somebody has a question, you should be one of the first people who answers and you need to answer without reservation not just, "Oh, I answered that in my eBook; go buy it". They're going to find your eBook if you just talk to them and give them solutions to the problem they are struggling with at that moment.
Give people your input, your encouragement for them to get better at what they are trying to do.
Any little quick free advice you can give, give it.
Actively Build Your Reputation With Social Networking And Reap The Rewards
You've got to be in this for the reason of having fun and really building that relationship. Dollars will come, there's no doubt about that. But first, connect with people and really help them out. Understand that they'll become loyal followers of what you do and see you for who you are.
Follow these 5 steps to building your reputation online and you'll not only beat your competition, you'll have more fun doing it!
Bob Jenkins teaches business owners how to use internet marketing strategies effectively to attract more customers and get more sales without spending a fortune on advertising. Get more free social networking lessons at www.DiscoverSocialNetworking.com.