It used to be that your boss’s perception of your work was what mattered most. Today, it’s your boss and beyond. In our globally dispersed organization, you have interactions with a wide variety of people. Their opinions matter and the sum total of those perceptions make up your reputation. Your reputation consists of stories others tell about you. These stories sometimes take on a life of their own.

Rumors and anecdotes that are told about you enhance or limit your career opportunities. The further removed people are from firsthand experience of your performance, the more their assessment is based on your reputation.

How do you manage perceptions that are everywhere? You seek the truth about you and your work, find an environment where you shine, and live up to your best story about yourself.  Here are four actions that help you turn truth…to reputation…to personal brand…to asset.

Get realistic feedback.

Ask for feedback from others you interact with – your boss, peers, colleagues, etc. – to learn what they think and say about you.  Initiate the conversation and be open to their feedback. Develop a receiving mindset. Share insights, offer ideas, ask questions, listen, invite participation from others, and be open to their feedback.

Compare feedback from others with your self assessment.

By comparing their view of your skills and potential with your own, you can test your self-image against reality and develop perspective on how people view you and your work. This is a great way to get valuable information about your reputation. You can use this knowledge to enhance your skills, change performance habits, emphasize strengths, further develop your weaker areas and manage your brand.

Brand your reputation.

What words or phrases describe your best work? What descriptions come to mind when co-workers think about you? Create and use words or phrases that truthfully describe your reputation. Name your strengths. Define what you do best, what sets you apart from others and what makes you different.

Market your reputation as an asset. Communicate your brand through your actions. If you’re a fearless innovator, act on that strength. A people leader? Be one. A funny teacher? Keep it up.

Remember, if you don’t manage your reputation, other people will!