What’s the other “R” in Reputation?

Filed as Features on July 27, 2007 10:00 am

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I’m sure you’re all familiar with the famous song by Otis Redding popularized by Aretha Franklin: Respect. Your reputation is built in large part on it. No respect, no love. Respect is the shortest path from occasional browsing and visits to your blog to loyal readership. It comes before admiration. Without respect there can be no long term connection.

Strong brands form the basis for a genuine connection with the communities and networks they operate in. For people to let you get up close enough to touch them in some ways, for them to remember you, for them to give you permission to fill their inbox and RSS reader, they need to respect what you write about and who you are.

So how do we get that respect? I recently took another look at a list I made for myself based upon Kevin Roberts’ Lovemarks – the Future Beyond Brands. What applies to the best brands, can work for you, too.

Getting respect demands that you:

Perform, perform, perform – respect grows out of performance at each and every interaction. You may think of performance in athletic terms as in being at the top of your game. Performance is honed with practice. Write a lot, experiment with the styles that feel comfortable to you. Request feedback from people you admire and take it to heart. Temper that by taking some of the advice with a grain of salt because you want to…

Pursue innovation – we expect it of others and we should hold ourselves to the same standard of continuous improvement. My definition of innovation is looking at things with new eyes. You know what it feels like when you think about a topic for a post and see a new angle that no one else has covered. What is innovation to you? To me innovation also requires that we…

Commit to total commitment – this is not a play on words. It really means going whole hot, being completely for it. The blogosphere is very active and very opinionated, I’m sure you’ve noticed. People will judge you at every interaction, every post – a bad experience means people are not coming back. At the same time, you want to…

Make it easy – for people to stick with you, what you’re about needs to be apparent. Also, don’t make it difficult for readers to find you. I am amazed at the number of blogs I read where I cannot find an email address to contact the author. This brings me to the next suggestion…

Don’t hide – some of you may smirk at all the memes that make the rounds. “I am way too busy being important to participate” some have declared. That’s fine, it may work for them. Consider this: people can respect you only if they know who you are. Would you prefer it was others to tell your story? I say you should…

Jealously guard your reputation – All the interactions and experiences of you contribute to building your reputation. Do you get back to people when you say you would? Do you deliver on your promises? When you do that you…

Get in the lead and stay there – there’s lots of talk about leadership here, leadership there. What does it mean to be out front? Think about it. It can be uncomfortable and risky. There is a lot of responsibility and visibility associated with being a leader. The more notoriety and fame, the harder the fall – so you always want to…

Tell the truth – be open. If you don’t know something, say so. We can’t be all experts at everything. Admit mistakes. The worst thing you can do is cover up, people find out. Cite your sources, share the credit. This all goes to build your reputation, which can then give you back in premium defense if things ever get tricky. You assure that they won’t if you…

Nurture integrity – if we look up a definition of integrity this means basing your actions on an internally consistent framework of principles. It is based on your acting on a core set of principles that are the foundation of your character. Remember you have character, you build reputation. What is your definition of integrity? To me it also means you…

Accept responsibility – Yes, we understand that we need to act responsibly and stand behind what we write. I’m thinking more broadly. Is our voice and contribution going to more clutter, dissonance, and noise or is it going to make the world a better place for everyone? How would we do that? Create self-esteem, wealth, prosperity, jobs, choices, etc. And once you’ve built all that…

Never pull back on service – that is the place where a mere transaction becomes a relationship, the first moment of truth. Think of your readers as customers. Even if no money ever changes hands, they are giving you a valuable resource – time. Make sure their time is well spent. If they didn’t find what they were looking for, that’s a reason to find out what that was. This is how you blog and ideas are evolved. This is how you grow. To help readers find what the need…

Deliver great design – this is the attention economy 101 principle: design rules. How do we design a great experience? Pininfarina designer Jason Castriota, best known for his Ferrari exteriors, said “The difference between beautiful and ugly often comes down to one millimeter.” For design to deliver a great experience it has to be aesthetically stimulating and functionally effective. Don’t just act different, be different. Take a look at your blog. How can you customize your template to fit your brand? To me design is to experience like impact is to value. It matters a great deal. And…

Don’t underestimate value – people will give you respect only when they perceive that the value they are getting from you is higher than their cost in attention, time, energy, etc. Value is not something that fits a boilerplate measurement. I read some blogs because they help me challenge my thinking. That’s the value those authors represent to me. What’s your readers’ return on involvement? Ultimately, to get respect, you need to…

Deserve trust – the blogosphere, online forums, chat groups are all environment in which it may seem easy for people to trust each other. The talk is generally up front and open. Your readers want to trust you and that means that they will want you to remain consistent and true to the ideas and aspirations you share with them. Walk the talk. You don’t’ want to…

Never, ever fail the reliability test – this builds on everything else we’ve said here. Because so many of us are now publishing, sharing ideas and best practices, teaching what we know, expectations have risen. Posts need to make sense at the first paragraph, the design needs to complement the content, we are always online looking at what everyone else is doing. You get the idea – if content is queen, reliability is king.

No respect. No Love. No connection. Next post we’ll talk about five ways to get respect.

Meanwhile there were some questions built in the flow to consider:

Do you deliver on your promises?
What does it mean to you to be out front?
What is your definition of integrity?
How do we design a great experience?

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  1. By Carolyn posted on July 27, 2007 at 12:56 pm
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    Valeria, this is a great post. Thank you for the reminders. This list can apply to many, many aspects of life. One of the things I have been pondering is that once upon a time, a person’s word/handshake was a contract. Today, there such is a lack of integrity. One cannot count on another’s word anymore. Where did that go? And how sad that it is gone.
    Peace, Carolyn

    Reply

  2. By Valeria Maltoni posted on July 27, 2007 at 1:25 pm
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    Welcome to the conversation, Carolyn. I’m an optimist and think we can uncover great things about people and situations. Sometimes we just don’t have or we feel we can’t take the time. It’s good to remind ourselves.

    Reply

  3. By letters posted on July 27, 2007 at 5:23 pm
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    For me it’s honesty. If I get a whiff someone isn’t honest about what they’re saying, I’ll either call them out on it or move on and never come back. It doesn’t mean laying all the cards on the table, revealing every secret detail of your life on your blog. It’s about having an honest look at life and giving an honest opinion based on facts, even if I don’t agree with you. That’s how I try to be.
    Great post.

    Reply

  4. By Valeria Maltoni posted on July 27, 2007 at 6:50 pm
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    Hi and thank you for joining this conversation. From what you’re saying, it sounds like your sweet spot is authenticity — being real and feeling real, whatever that means to any of us. Yes, we’ve now seen a full movement towards that with blogging and in business. Will this term, authenticity, be high jacked and become devoid of meaning?

    Side note: German was my minor in university. I did not do as well as English ;-) Still a passion as my favorite poet is R.M. Rilke.

    Reply

  5. By Skellie posted on July 28, 2007 at 10:48 pm
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    Wonderful post. I think the issue of ‘respect’ is one that is going to be coming up more and more often in this new blogging culture. Nearly everyone is juggling attempts to profit from readers while delivering them the best experience possible, and this is putting ‘respect’ more and more in question.

    The main area I see respect being undermined is in monetization, particularly via paid reviews and unmarked affiliate links. Many otherwise respectable bloggers have fallen into this trap and my perceptions of them have been lowered.

    I think a key rule to stand by is to ask yourself: am I doing this for me, or them? If you’re able to consistently answer the second when considering both your content and your layout then it shouldn’t be too difficult to maintain integrity.

    Once again, thanks for the thought provoking post. I’ll certainly be linking to it at the end of the week.

    Reply

  6. By seo training posted on July 29, 2007 at 12:47 am
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    Valeria,

    This is a great post. May i ask you how can you pursue innovation?
    How is it possible to bring in innovation.

    Reply

  7. By Valeria Maltoni posted on July 29, 2007 at 11:15 am
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    Carmelo — it looks like you intend to have one big conversation with yourself at your blog. What’s the purpose of having all links point to your URL? Is that an experiment? Aside from multiplying links, what is the goal?

    Skellie — thank you for reading and for providing feedback. I like your features links on the sidebar at your blog. Issues like transparency are as subtle as important. While we rationalize our actions, checking in with the gut will help guide us through some of those points. How do you weigh and measure whether you are doing something for yourself or for someone else?

    SEO Training — is this Jack I’m talking with? We will be getting into a lot more detail over how next post. I will keep your very good question in mind.

    Reply

  8. By Alvin Chen posted on July 31, 2007 at 11:35 am
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    Ming the Artmaker (http://artmaker.blogspot.com) led me here and I have to say that I learned so much more than just blogging tips from this.

    Thanks Valeria and you bet I will be back for more!

    First things first, start blogging with my own name instead of a pseudonym… =)

    Reply

  9. By Valeria Maltoni posted on August 1, 2007 at 4:26 am
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    Hello Alvin,

    Glad I could be of service. Do let us know how you are doing with your inspired choices.

    Reply

  10. Weekly Swipe fileAugust 2, 2007 at 5:43 am
  11. Want to Get Respect? 5 Things You Can Do Today. : The Blog HeraldAugust 10, 2007 at 7:15 am

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