taekwondo-reputationA few of you may already know that I am a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo. Unlike some schools, where they practically hand you a new belt every month, it took me five hard years of training, under 7th degree master Ms. Peck, to earn mine.

During that time, every class began with the “Tenets of Taekwondo”:

Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, Indomitable Spirit.

It may sound trite to teach you how to be a black belt in online reputation management, but each of these tenets really do transfer over to your ORM efforts.

Courtesy

Being courteous is one of the most important lessons for any brand to learn. Whether it’s saying “thanks” to a supporter, or just not bad-mouthing a competitor, showing up with some basic manners will help you build a solid reputation. In Taekwondo, all black belts are referred to as Mr. or Ms. and their last name. Just because we know each other well enough to use nicknames, we still hold to this level of courtesy.

Integrity

Do you have a line you absolutely won’t cross? Hopefully you have many such lines. When you sacrifice your integrity for the sake of a few retweets or front page exposure on reddit, it’s hard to go back. Your reputation will only ever be as strong as your character, so don’t compromise your integrity just so you can take a shortcut.

Perseverance

Building a great reputation won’t happen overnight. You’re going to need to build out your centers of influence and convince people that you are someone worth following on Google+ or liking on Facebook. It took me 3 years to get my first black belt, but when I did, I knew I had earned it!

Self Control

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I can break someone’s leg with a single kick, but I never get even close to that level of intensity. You may have the best reputation in your industry, but that doesn’t give you a free pass to exploit your customers and employees. Demonstrate to your stakeholders that when they align themselves with your brand, they know you’ll never act like a jerk.

Indomitable Spirit

There are going to be times when your reputation comes under attack. If you’re in the wrong, then you should save your integrity, by apologizing and showing courtesy to those you have wronged. When the attack is unjustified or defamatory, you’ll need to fight to protect your good name. My martial arts skills are something I hope I never have to use against an adversary, but if I do, I’m prepared to do what’s needed to protect myself.

Whether you’re a white belt or black belt in reputation management, the tenets are something worth reciting each day.

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