What do you want to be known for and seen as?

What people say and feel about you is vital. It’s a key way to get your work ‘out there’. So how can you ensure that what they say is what you want them to?

One of the complaints we hear most often from the speakers, authors and coaches we work with is that there are not enough people talking about them, that they are not getting enough attention. When we hear that, we throw this exercise at them. Because there’s always something you can do to get people talking about you. We are more concerned that once they are, that they are saying things that you want them to say!

Get ready to grab your reputation by the scruff of the neck and give it a shake.

We highly recommend that you grab a sheet of paper and start to scribble as you read. Everyone can benefit from making sure that what people say about them is up to date and reflects where they are at in their thinking and wanting. Even though it does not seem like it, we are all in fact more than able to steer people into saying what we want them to say about us.

Here’s why.

People usually take you at your word when you say what you do, what you’ve done and what your dreams are. Think about it, no-one goes around doubting what you say unless you give them reason. But that also means that most people don’t go ‘making up’ something about others — they repeat what you’ve said in good faith. So, if you put some thought into what you say, they will oblige by sharing that on your behalf — especially if you make it compelling, entertaining or just downright shocking.

Here’s how:

What you are going to be doing is extricating and defining two key things. And then you’ll look at each from three stages or view points.

The first of these areas is this: What you want to be known for?

– the impact you have made, are making and want to make in the world, on your clients and in your industry. This is about what you’ve done — what results you’ve created, what contributions you’ve made. They are the tangible, evidence and proof based activities and roles you’ve played and want to play.

The second of these areas is this: What you want to be seen as?

– the impression you currently make, want to make and also never want make. What effect is your personality and how you do what you do having on people as you show up share what you know and do. This is more about the feeling that people have from being with you, the way in which they might describe you because that’s how they see you.

It’s best to do it fast, then review.

We recommend that you do this exercise as a gut feel, fast first take and get down all that you think of in the moment. Once you have your ‘off the top of your head’ draft answers, then you can modify them by going and doing a little digging into your past to make sure you gather up the outstanding facts, figures and interests that make up your life contributions to date. You can even double check your impression by doing a mini survey or poll with your clients!

It’s vital that the story that you tell about you is your current story and indeed that you are beginning to talk about where you want to go, and what you are leaning into. That adds intrigue and interest to your conversations. It also means that those who might be able to help you with where you’re headed next can tell you if they can help you and connect you to people and resources that might help you. That’s invaluable and shortcuts a lot of headaches for you!

Here are 4 reasons to make a list of what you want to be known for:

  1. So you are using the words you want to have people use — people WILL repeat what you say, they have no reason not to!
  2. So you can increase your credibility through presenting a snapshot of what you’ve achieved and gain interest in your future project because they trust you and the impact you make
  3. So that people are under no illusion that you’ll do what you say you want to, and they’ll do their best to support you in your aspirational endeavours and intentions
  4. To ensure you are showing up consistently as your brand, in person, and across your social media profiles in a way that is congruent

In the first part of this exercise, we are asking you to think about 3 things. What you’ll be doing is 3 things:

  1. Defining what you are ACTUALLY and currently known for and seen as
  2. Extricating what you ASPIRATIONALLY want to be known for and seen as
  3. Identifying what you AT NO TIME want to be known for and seen as

Many of our clients have tweaked their websites, their 60 second pitches, their networking spiel etc through doing this exercise. It’s also a great way to keep your social media up to date, to build authority and to widen your reach.

How to do it

On your sheet — draw a line down the middle of the page, use your preference for landscape or portrait. On the left hand side, write KNOWN FOR — IMPACT. Divide this side of the page into 3 sections (Actual, Aspirational, At No Time).

Now in each of the sections note your past results and achievements. Make them as tangible as possible. What’s now in place that was not before? What testimonials might back up your claims, what numbers will show what you’ve done? Use your experience to indicate your skill, authority and capability. Use numbers as much as possible.

  • Results
  • Tangible cases / case studies
  • Your authority — qualifications, association memberships
  • Facts / history / cv
  • Achievements — self, clients, others
  • What have you facilitated or contributed to that is evidence

For the ‘At No Time’ section, make sure you add in there the 180 degree version — it may just help you to ‘sack’ current clients that are just not doing the work in the way you want, or not

Once you’ve filled in the left side of the page, you are probably already seeing what you could and should be sharing more to build your reputation and share the impact you can make.

Now we come to the right hand side. This list is a little different. It’s all about the IMPRESSION that people make and have of you when they meet you initially or see you subsequently. It’s what they experience OF you when you are with them. This taps into their feelings, values, definitions and descriptions. This impression is usually what they lead with if they are recommending you or sharing about you to someone else. Think about it — you’d likely talk about someone else by first describing their manner and the way they are, before you then say why you’re introducing or recommending them. For example, you’re likely to say “Mary Smith is warm, friendly yet is not afraid to tell it like it is” before you’d say “She’s a key negotiation partner in XYZ firm.

You might think you are not in charge of this level of impression, but you’d be wrong. To start getting an idea of how people perceive you now, just ask your network to tell you 3 words to describe you. You’ll be amazed at how you are seen. That’s the current version or how they ACTUALLY see you.

Now you can turn your attention to how you WANT to be seen — ASPIRATIONALLY. List the qualities and values you want to be seen as — more reliable, or connected or fun

  1. How you come across, the feeling that happens
  2. The brand elements — the colours, the shapes, the textures
  3. The lines
  4. What you say more how you say it
  5. What’s it like — gentle, nurturing, inspiring, kick ass, fun
  6. What’s he or she like,
  7. The values — the social proof
  8. The testimonials that paint a picture of what it’s like to GET the results — what’s the journey you’ll have, the experience, the feelings


Actual — what are you, right now known for / seen as

Aspirational — what do you WANT to be known for seen as — bring in the dream, the ultimate, the vision

At No Time — what is your ultimate no no

We do also have this as a hand out, as it’s an exercise I and we use with all our clients regularly. If you want a copy, just pop a ‘me please’ in the comments and I’ll get one over to you later on.

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