Reputation – how will yours hold up during this crisis?
It matters not a jot whether you’ve been in business for decades or days, we’re all in uncharted territory right now. This is a truly unique time. Little wonder, then, that people in business are acting and reacting in all sorts of ways.
Clearly, the top priority for everyone is staying healthy and safe and there is a wealth of advice out there to help with that. The second biggest challenge, for many though, is to keep their business going and their financial heads above water. This is the audience this article is intended for.
Over the last few days, we ‘ve seen some amazing acts of generosity from so many people. The huge numbers volunteering to help the NHS, for example. And, over the last weekend, musicians, actors and the like have been entertaining us from their own living rooms, giving us some fun and enjoyment from the comfort of our own sofas!
Sadly however, at the other end of the spectrum, many of us are aware of companies trying to use this situation to their own advantage, some legally, some not. We’ve all heard the horror stories, from large corporations trying to position their company as one offering “essential” services to the small retailers selling toilet rolls for a fiver.
When you hear or read these stories, how does this make you feel? What do you think it says about these companies? How will this affect where you choose to do your business in the future?
As we would have expected at this time, social media is noisier and scarier than ever. It’s currently carrying a swarm of opinions, judgement, advice, do’s and don’ts, scare stories, “banter”, the list really is endless. Much of this is well-intentioned and some of it is actually helpful. However, much is not. So many struggle with the truth that social media is a gigantic goldfish bowl and whether we think this is fair or not, people will often be judged permanently on what they’re putting out there, meaning that we really should all think a lot harder and a lot longer before exposing ourselves and our businesses in this way.
Let’s be crystal clear. Reputation is everything! This is the single biggest factor in whether people will choose to do business with you, both now and going forward. And, right now some people and some businesses are quietly enhancing their reputations, while others will be left with a reputation in tatters. Which group do you think you will be in? And what can you do to build your reputation now?
Of course, it’s natural when we’re worried about our business futures to look for ways to make more sales. However, prioritising this, particularly at this time, could easily be counter-productive, resulting is our being seen as exploitative or even manipulative, thereby turning off both existing and potential clients, meaning we risk further damaging our reputations and business.
What would be far better right now would be to consider what we can give, freely, generously, without any expectation of something in return. What do we have that might benefit someone else? What skills, services, resources could we share today?
Unsurprisingly, for many of us, one of the resources we currently have more of is time. So, instead of using that time to dump even more on social media, why not start by picking up the phone and having as many conversations with people as you can. Why is that helpful?
As social creatures, the lack of interaction is having a profound effect on us, simply put, we need human contact. Social media is a poor substitute for this. Face to face is best, but phone and Zoom can be a strong second best. Calling someone or even better, texting first to arrange a call, can be a really practical way to offer help and support. Just having a conversation with clients, networking contacts and other people you know can in itself be tremendously encouraging, it also offers you the chance to explore other ways you might be able to help.
And, if you want to use social media, why not use your time to write someone a favourable review or recommendation? For micro businesses especially, these can be incredibly helpful and will invariably result in stronger relationships going forward.
When we’re in the middle of a crisis, it seems like it will go on forever. However, when we’ve emerged from the other side and look back, the likelihood is that it will seem like a really brief period of time, a mere pause in our hectic lives.
But the activities we choose to do now will be remembered, long after this time is over.
How do you want to be remembered through this period? How do you want your business to be viewed? Remember, reputation is everything!