Why you should never undervalue your own reputation.

What is the most valued commodity to Warren Buffett? Surprisingly, it’s not money but his reputation.

Growing and not depleting his ‘reputation bank’ is a large consideration in any deal he does.

As you grow your connection and reputations, considering the value of your brand has to be an important factor that can be overlooked.

After decades of meticulous planning, Warren’s reputation, based on trust and a large dose of success can mean the difference between company success and failure. In 2008, as the recession kicked in, Warren Buffet invested struggling ‘Blue Chip’ stocks like Bank of America, Mars and Goldman Sachs. His investment of ‘cash’ was not the only value in each transaction. With the cash came the announcement that one of the World’s richest men was investing in these companies. That in itself will have helped those companies show a sign of strength and point to a brighter future ahead. (Berkshire Hathaway have made around ‘$10 billion and counting’ from these investments. )

This ability to influence business and sales by the mere association with Buffett is testament to the meticulous planning and management of his personal brand. If Warren gets into a business, you can bet he has spent a lot of time examining the risks and opportunities before getting involved. That calculation would be financial and reputational (I’m not sure that’s actually a word). A withdrawal from Buffett’s reputation bank would impact on all future deals and the value he can command for his association.

Whilst very few of us can ever imagine achieving Buffet’s success, we can take some lessons here for our own personal brands. You will no doubt be building, or have built a successful personal brand, but have you calculated the value of your brand?

This value needs to be more than just the hours you put into a project. If you are an early adopter, can you watch to see how many of your colleagues or followers sign up after you? Do you have ‘an audience’ that is tangible? If you start a project can you identify benchmarks before and after your involvement that can help identify the value?

In the age of the ‘influencer’ this is of equal importance to the young vlogger as it is to the ageing entrepreneur.

Buffett will no doubt have worked out the percentage boost a stock price can see with his name attached to it so you need to think how to identify and attribute your own value. If you can get some answers to these questions you will be in a stronger position to leverage your brand and grow your return from it.

Whilst some of your story can be ‘spun’, you need to take a step back and consider how it looks to the outsiders. Have you ‘blogged your startup’ warts and all’ or have you let the business do the talking? Are you quick to vocally denounce a competitor or new entrant or have you kept your counsel? For the record, I’m not saying either is right.

As your brand grows, so will the opportunities to harness this. From invitations for guest blogging to deeper involvements, you should always be looking at the potential return for your efforts. Only you can make the decision whether a project is worth less than the potential exposure you will receive and this calculation should be done at every stage.

So too should the examination of risk and reward to your reputation. What happens if your name is associated with failure? If you can help make something a success, how will that benefit your brand? If it is a failure, it would be a massive withdrawal from your reputation bank and not one you can easily make back. Make sure you are fully versed in both sides of the opportunity.

This is a very great compliment from Linkedin.

Your brand should have a value attached to it. This value doesn’t have to be a pure monetary value but the rounded picture of all that you can provide and all that you can benefit. Defining a value will help you pick the right projects moving forward. It will also give you the confidence and justification for turning down projects when you think they offer greater risk than reward.

Adding these solid foundations to your personal brand building will offer you a stronger opportunity to grow a quality network and see a greater return for your efforts.

(read more about Warren Buffett in this great book ‘The Snowball’)