Guest blogger Diane Ebersole is a Practice Management Advisor for the State Bar of Michigan, advising members on law practice management issues and resources. She has an extensive background in information technology and is a member of the ABA eLawyering Task Force. For more tips, look for her regular Tip of the Week series in the Michigan Bar’s Practice Management Resource Center.

Make sure your reputation is top-notch!
Photo by the Boston Public Library

We’ve all heard of scouting reports. In sports, it refers to the review of new talent or an opposing team; scouts collect data to inform their general managers and make theirs a winning season.

Recently I heard the term in reference to looking for information regarding a person or service on a listserv. You might send out an inquiry about a new SaaS (Software as a Service) application; for example, “Has anybody tried Solution 32 — what are the pluses and minuses?” Or perhaps you need information about where to take your car for service — is the garage reliable, clean, and courteous? Or overpriced?

No doubt these “scouting reports” are useful when researching services, but what prompts list mates to respond to your query? Usually it’s one of two things; personal experience or reputation. If reputation is, as puts it, “the estimation in which a person or thing is held, especially by the community or the public generally; repute,” how can you manage your own reputation, or your own “scouting report”?

In a time when your reputation can be destroyed online in a nanosecond, here are a few tips for cultivating a sterling rep:

  • Be an excellent listener. In person, on the phone, in every interaction, respectfully listen, and those you interact with will appreciate you for it (and share their positive experience with others!).
  • Keep your promises and respond in a timely fashion. If you set yourself a deadline that you can’t keep, check in with the other party as soon as you know. Most people just like to be in the loop.
  • Secure your Facebook page. There seem to be more Facebook privacy settings by the day, but for now, Zack Whittaker lays out a definitive guide to sharing only what you’d like to share.
  • Be vigilant about how you are portrayed in Facebook photos. You can set notifications to make sure you know exactly which photos are being posted of you the second they’re posted.
  • Accept the responsibility for mistakes made by those you supervise. People respect honesty and transparency, and if you acknowledge concerns and do your best to mollify the situation, your effort won’t be forgotten.
  • Write with civility. Remember every written word has the potential to go viral. Think “reputation” with every interaction and your scouting reports will always be glowing!