When you’re not in the room, when you’re out of hearing range, people are talking about you. Staff are having the kinds of conversations that decide whether they will respect you, like you or even be loyal to you… your bosses are discussing whether to promote you, and customers are deciding whether they trust you.

So, how do you shape and influence what gets said about you behind closed doors?

  1. Pick three key adjectives to describe yourself

Vice-chairman of Morgan Stanley, author of ‘Strategize to Win’ and one of the 50 most powerful black executives in corporate America, Carla Harris, says pick three adjectives you want to represent you – that describe how you want people to see you and that are true – and use them to describe yourself.

In an interview with Gregory Lewis, author of Talent Blog, Harris says that after she was told she wasn’t tough enough for business, she made ‘tough’ one of her adjectives.

For 90 days, she’d “walk tough, talk tough, eat tough”—she even consistently used the word “tough” to describe herself to others. When someone asked her to critique a CEO’s presentation, she cautioned: “Is this CEO sensitive? Does he have thin skin? I don’t want to hurt his feelings, because, you know—I’m tough.”

  1. Relationships are currency

Dr Ivan Misner describes relationships as currency and being ‘too busy’ to connect with people comes at a cost.

“It’s not the contacts you make, but the ones you turn into relationships. It’s not what you know, and it’s not who you know – it’s how well you know them. There is a big difference to having a contact and having a relationship,” says Misner.

Here’s three tips from Misner on how to improve your relationships

  1. When you meet somebody, or identify a person, who could be of value, help or influence in your business, career or goals, give them a personal call. Set-up a ‘get to know’ you meeting over coffee or lunch.
  2. Contact people who have been valuable to your business in the past. Reconnect. Find out how they’re doing, and work out if you can help them in some way.
  3. Put together a touch point list of 50 people you’d like to stay in touch with this, including those who have referred business to you previously. Connect on social media, send them a card…

“You must keep investing in relationships if you ever expect to make a withdrawal,” says Misner.

In summary, coming up with three adjectives to describe yourself – or which describe how you would like to be perceived – is way to position yourself; brand marketers will tell you that perception is everything. Developing relationships, put simply, is how you promote yourself.

How people see you and talk about you comes down to just doing those two things. 1. Position yourself and 2. Promote yourself.

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