Guest post by Joel Garfinkle, from his book Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level
As an entrepreneur, [you have] an image and a reputation that are tied to the image and reputation of your company. When you improve the way you are perceived as an individual, you improve the way your company’s perceived as well. No matter how you are perceived now, there are steps you can take to manage perception among everyone you come into contact with in your business—from your employees and suppliers to your customers.
When you are positively perceived by others as an authority in your industry, your customers will love you, and you will find opportunities opening up all around you. To get there, you must take steps to control the way others perceive you. Here are eight things you can do to manage the way you are perceived as an entrepreneur.
1. Stay on top of the latest developments.
If you are not an expert in your industry, the first thing you must do is become one. Learn everything you can. Read every trade journal you can get your hands on. Attend workshops at trade shows. Call your suppliers, and ask them to tell you about the latest product developments and techniques.
Suppliers can be goldmines of information. Often, the companies you buy your supplies and equipment from have people whose only job is to provide information to help you do what you do even better. Get to know these people. Call them regularly. Ask questions. Listen to their answers. Even if you have been in business for years, there are still things you don’t know. Make it your business to learn everything there is to know about your industry.
2. Write articles for trade magazines.
When you learn something that helps you in your business, share it with others in your industry by writing an article for one of the trade magazines. This will give you exposure and improve the way you’re perceived within your industry as well as help other entrepreneurs who find themselves in the same situation.
3. Get recognition for your successes.
Whenever you do something newsworthy, take credit for your success by submitting press releases to your industry’s trade magazines and other publications that may be interested in the news. Examples of newsworthy announcements you can make include new product announcements and improvements in your manufacturing process. Make sure each press release includes a memorable quote by you to improve how you’re perceived even more.
4. Host a charity event in your community.
Raising money for a charity is a great way to improve how your company’s perceived within your local area as well as you. Pick a cause that’s close to your heart, and your passion for the event and the charity you are supporting will be contagious. You and your organization will be perceived as caring, generous, and concerned about the welfare of the people in your community.
5. Teach workshops at industry trade shows.
Once you’ve become an expert in your industry, you can pass on the knowledge you’ve acquired by teaching classes and workshops at trade shows for your industry. As a result, you will become known as an authority in your industry, someone who knows the best practices in your industry and helps teach them to others.
6. Associate with respected industry leaders.
Getting to know the leaders in your industry will open up new opportunities for you. As you develop relationships with these leaders, look for opportunities to help them reach their goals. Then, when you need a favor, you will have someone to ask for help.
7. Seek out opportunities for speaking engagements.
Watch for opportunities to speak at conferences, seminars, and other events in your industry. As soon as you hear about one of these events, come up with a program you could deliver and pitch it to the event’s organizers.
8. Organize industry events.
You don’t need to wait for someone else to host an event in your industry—plan one of your own. Offer a day of classes or host an open house with product and equipment demonstrations, contests, free food, and prizes.
By actively working to improve the way you are perceived, you will become known, respected, and trusted among your employees, peers, suppliers, and customers. You will take on a visible role as a leader in your industry and begin to influence processes and procedures. You will introduce innovative new ideas, and because you have created a positive perception of yourself, people will listen to your ideas and act on them. You will be able to exert your influence and make a real difference in your industry.