If your grandmother always told you that your reputation matters a great deal in this world, she wasn't just offering some old-fashioned advice that doesn't matter anymore.
According to a new study by Stanford GSB professor Adina D. Sterling, it appears that if you start a new job with well-regarded qualifications and credentials, then your ability to form a network within that organization is going to be high. Further, you'll build an even stronger network if you've got someone inside the new organization who knows you and is singing your praises.
This contact who is willing to vouch for you is very important, as the study finds that his or her endorsement can sway others even if you don't have a lauded reputation coming into the new company.
Still, the study found that if you have have poor work reputation, no inside endorsement is going to do you much good. Further, the contact you know at a company may even try to dodge much interaction with you since they don't want to tarnish their reputation by helping you.
When you're really going to face an uphill battle at a new company is when you not only don't have a reputation coming into a new job -- but you also don't know anyone within the new company that can speak for your talents, the study finds.
The research suggests that the old saying “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know” isn’t always true, Sterling says. “There are real times when it matters how good you are and whether people know it,” she says.
The moral of the story is this: Your professional reputation and network always matter. That's why you need to:
- Keep your LinkedIn profile current. Don't let a week go by that you haven't posted a comment in a group discussion, or refined your profile to showcase new talents or even highlight volunteer activities.
- Post helpful content online. Through your own blog, through Facebook or even through Twitter, post content that others in your professional world will find valuable.Answer questions when you can from others in your industry, or direct contacts to helpful sources.
- Grow your skills. No matter where you are in your career, always challenge yourself. If you continue to self-educate, your reputation for learning and self-improvement will help alleviate any missteps you make along the way.
- Work on relationships. Social media is a great way to make initial contact with others, but you have to reach out through phone calls, emails or face-to-face meetings to take a relationship to the next level. If you want others to vouch for you, you're going to have to invest time in the relationship.