In the last post, Personal Reputation: The New Currency in Marketing Professional Services, I looked at the changes in how A/E/C owners and clients are commissioning design and construction services. Credentials of the team members are increasingly as important, and sometimes more important, than firm credentials.
This is the premise of my new book, Reputation Design+Build: Creating Winning Personal Brands for Engineering, Design, and Construction Professionals, Much of the book is a series of tools that you can use to build or maintain your personal reputation. These are broken down by Baseline Tools and Reputation-Building Tools. The Baseline Tools are typically expected by those commissioning design and construction services. The Reputation-Building Tools allow you to go above and beyond to enhance your personal brand and differentiate yourself from others. Here's an overview:
Baseline Tools
• You. Yes, you are a ‘tool’, because if you don’t have the right attitude, mindset, and drive, you will not succeed.
• Education & Training. This is your college degree as well as your specialized continuing education – the education that is expected of someone in your position, including the ongoing training required to maintain your professional licenses and certifications.
• Licenses & Certifications. If you want to seal drawings, you need a license. But owners are increasingly expecting a variety of specialized certifications – beyond LEED AP. CPM, CAE, CCS, CCM, CPE, CCP, and the list goes on. What certifications are your clients and prospects expecting you to have? What certifications do your competitors have? 
• Portfolio. This is your personal and project experience – design or construction. It is also individual recognition and awards that you or your projects have won. Some owners want to know that you’ve been involved with three relevant projects in the past three years – or five projects in the past five. 
Reputation-Building Tools
• Community Groups. This is the low-hanging fruit of reputation-building. Get involved with nonprofits in your community. This could be chambers of commerce or economic development organizations. Or perhaps the United Way, March of Dimes, or any other organization serving your local community.
• Professional Associations. If you are an architect, this may be the AIA. If you are an engineer, perhaps NSPE, ACEC, or ASCE. Don’t just join – get involved. Serve on committees and work your way to the board of directors for your local chapter – or national organization!
• Client Organizations. Really stand out by becoming active with IFMA, SCUP, COAA, ULI, ASHE, SAME, or any other place where owners congregate. Again, don’t just join, but play an active role in advancing the organization.
• Writing & Publishing. Get the knowledge out of your head and onto paper. Write an op-ed for the local newspaper or business journal. Write for your company newsletter or blog. Submit an article to your professional association newsletter, or to a client publication. Writing conveys expertise, and is thus an excellent reputation-building tool.
• Public Speaking. Forget about the inherent fear, and get out there. Speak at a company lunch-n-learn or to your local Rotary club. Share knowledge at the local chapter of your professional association. Apply to speak at a client conference – local, regional, or national. Be viewed as a leader among your peers.
• Becoming the News. Being published conveys one level of expertise, but being interviewed or quoted in media conveys another. Conduct a study or publish a white paper. Develop relationships with local business reporters and editors of national industry publications. Create talking points and fact sheets. Help reporters with information.
• Social Media. There’s no way around it, social media is now an extremely important component of any integrated marketing strategy. And make no mistake, personal reputation building is all about marketing yourself. So at least get active on LinkedIn. Complete your profile – and be thorough! Join groups and participate in discussions. Then consider other channels like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.
• Moonlighting. Take on a new responsibility inside your firm – something atypical for someone in your position. Do non-competing work outside of the office. Do something totally different just to gain the experience. Or take your skillset to a non-profit organization in need, and offer to do pro-bono work for them. 
• Creative Hobbies. There are lots of creative people in the A/E/C industry. Paint, photograph, or perform. Don’t keep it to yourself, but share it with others – you never know who you will meet along the way.
• Mentoring. Become the person that was there for you early in your career. Or be the person you wish would have been there for you. Impart knowledge, share wisdom, and discuss lessons learned. This could be to someone in your firm – or even outside of it. Someone you mentor today will become a great advocate for you in the future – a fan, co-worker, employee, supervisor, or even client.
• Child Activities. Be a coach or a scout leader or a PTO parent. You’ll meet a lot of new like-minded people, and this may open doors for you as you advance in your career. Plus, you’ll gain experiences that you’ll have in common with the people you meet at community groups, professional associations, and client organizations. And since it seems that we never have enough time with our kids, the benefits of this tool truly are priceless! 
• Network Savviness. Networking is one thing, but managing your network is another. Build a strong, dynamic network. Maintain continual contact. Regularly help the members of your network by sharing information, ideas, leads, and introductions to people that can help them. 
• References. In today’s society, references are absolutely critical, so go out of your way to gain references from happy clients, business associates, and colleagues. Ask members of your network to recommend you on LinkedIn – and offer to do the same. Keep a database of quotes/testimonials about you – or your projects – in a central location.
• Knowledge. Devour information everywhere and anywhere you can find it. Read about your specific field. Monitor A/E/C industry publications. Get to know your clients’ industries – and understand their clients or customers. Watch webinars. Read blogs. Use Google Alerts to track key words or phrases. Be more interesting than “The World’s Most Interesting Man” featured in the Dos Equis commercials! 
Don’t think that you need to master all 18 tools at once, but you have to start somewhere. And if you don’t meet the perceived minimum baseline requirements for someone in your field – or for where you want to go in your career – start there. Slowly incorporate the other tools, focusing on the ones that are most comfortable to you. You’ll find that one tool often leads to another, like getting an article published may open the door to give a presentation on the same topic.
For the book Reputation Design+Build, I interviewed fifteen accomplished professionals, who are using these tools, to create case studies. Most excel at one or two of the tools, but almost all of them are using many of the tools.
Although I refer to this process as personal reputation-building or personal branding, the reality is that these tools will help build a better you. This will help you go further in your career. It will help you get a job, keep a job, or get promoted. It will expose you to new people and exciting opportunities. And your enhanced visibility will lead to more project opportunities for your firm. 
The rules have changed. Are you playing by the old playbook – or the new one?
To learn more about the book, click here.