Who you hang out with impacts your personal brand
There’s an old saying that goes, “If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas” and another that says, “When the character of a man is not clear, look to his friends.” Both imply that one will be judged on one’s friends and acquaintances.
In business, this is especially true. Who you choose to associate with can have a massive impact on your personal brand. People’s perceptions of you will be influenced by who you choose to interact with, whether it’s your business partners, the crowd you have after-work drinks with on a Friday afternoon, or the people you connect with on LinkedIn and other social media sites.
You may think it’s a small thing and that I’m exaggerating, but stop for a second and think about the fuss it stirs up when a police commissioner is found to be friends with alleged mafia members. Now consider your associations again in that light and understand that if you choose to hang out with someone with a bad reputation, you risk that reputation rubbing off on you and tarnishing yours, whether it’s justified or not.
Now the example I’ve just mentioned is extreme, but it illustrates my point. If you follow a group on people on Twitter who constantly make immature and inappropriate jokes, it may reflect poorly on you. If you choose to befriend suspect people on Facebook or LinkedIn, it will influence how others perceive you.
You even need to consider things like who you choose to mentor, because any time you link your name to someone else’s, in any sort of relationship, you are linking your reputation to everything that person stands for.
So, remember what your mother probably told you: bad company corrupts good character. And it will certainly corrupt your personal brand.