Everyone loves a bit of gossip – and, while women are usually up front with their interest in a good bit of gossip, men hold their own when talking about sport, business or anything else they’re interested in.

So, what has gossip got to do with reputation?

As soon as someone talks about you or your business, they’re either polishing your reputation or – as the phrase goes ‘dishing the dirt’.  Ideally, you want people to be gossiping positively.

Congruency wins

You can’t control what people say about you when you’re not there, but you can influence it.  Everything you do, say and write is grist to the gossip mill.  That means that you have to walk the talk 24/7.

Whether you’re attending a networking meeting or popping out to the shops, people will look at you and make judgments.  It’s easy to claim that your private life is private, but as soon as you step outside your front door you’re in the public domain and you can’t prevent people from seeing you and drawing their own conclusions from your appearance, your behaviour and your actions.

You can’t be one person at work and a completely different one at home and be sure that you’re projecting a congruent and consistent image.

Of course, nobody expects you to step out of your house in business gear regardless of whether you’re on or off duty, but how you treat people and the actions you take will filter through to your business reputation.

If you’re shouting at a hapless waiter for dropping sauce on your white shirt while you’re out to dinner with your partner, don’t assume that there’s nobody who knows you in the restaurant.  You may not know them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t recognise you from social media, an event you’ve spoken at or a networking meeting you’ve both attended.

Treat everyone the way you’d like to be treated and you’ll be well on the way to getting a reputation that shines brightly.