By Julie Bauke, Career Strategist and President of The Bauke Group
Cinicnnati, Ohio USA

Your best marketing isn’t glossy or multi-colored and it doesn’t come with a rockin’ video link. That website that is the envy of your peers? Nice, but at the highest level of building a successful business? Yawn.

Yeah, yeah, I know… you have to have all that stuff. But the simplest actions, those everyday touches, are the best and highest impact marketing campaign you will ever have. And even better, it’s all in your control. Woo!

There is a word that you probably haven’t used since high school, and it usually had the word “bad” in front of it… it’s “reputation”. (As in,”Don’t go out with that guy. He’ll give you a bad reputation!” Full disclosure that only made me want to go more. Sorry Mom!)

What’s your reputation? You have one, whether you know what it is or not. It precedes you, follows you, and it sticks to you.

It’s the unspoken AND the spoken-what people say about you when you are not there, the subtle facial expression when your name comes up. Have you ever said anything like this?

“She’s a great keynote speaker, but so difficult to work with that it’s hardly worth the trouble.”

“Fran? She’s available? Get her for our conference before someone else snatches her up!”

Yes, ladies, you are being spoken about daily, probably while you are reading this.

Want to influence those conversations? Focus on these two areas: professional competence and character.

If you are a fab speaker, but can’t meet critical deadlines to save your life, you are competent, but not of great character. That fancy schmancy website? A complete waste.

If you are the highest integrity, most delightful human Planet Earth, but your audiences make their grocery lists while you speak, all of the glossy brochures in the world won’t save you.

DECIDE what reputation you desire, then be that person every day.  ACT as if everyone you meet — from the barista serving up your grande double shot vanilla whatzit — to the guy sitting next to you at a professional lunch or the mom sitting next to you at your son’s basketball game — are the magic link to your next big opportunity-because they just might be. If not , they might know the person who is.

GIVE as part of every conversation. Put on those listening ears and turn the dial to “generous”. When we practice generous listening, our mentality becomes, “let’s see how I might help this person”. Generous listening without immediate thought of reciprocity often leads to new professional relationships. It also enhances your- let’s all say it together- REPUTATION, and increases others’ willingness to help you Imagine your reputation as the foundation for the business/ life you are trying to build, and the fun marketing tools and strategies as the decor. The foundation isn’t particularly fun or exciting, but without it the house cannot stand. Then have fun evolving the paint and the furniture (the glossy brochures and the web copy ) as your business grows and changes. Assess your marketing toolbox, check your foundation, revisit and repair where necessary. And in retrospect, Mom was right. Mind your manners and stay away from those boys (and girls) your she warned you about.

Julie Bauke is a Career Strategist and President of The Bauke Group.  Her business focuses on educating and motivating individuals in building the career of their dreams. She is a dynamic and highly interactive speaker with a passion for educating and inspiring individuals to take charge of their careers.