It is a very small world.
On Monday I was invited to speak at a leadership roundtable in Toronto to a group of senior managers in the government sector. Over the period of about two hours, I realized that there were at least three people with whom I had “two degrees of separation”. One person had taught my brother in his master of arts degree, one knew my father from his local politics days, and one, well, I worked with one of these people twenty-five years ago. (Yes, I am that old).
My point here is that your past can either help you, or it can haunt you. The longer you are in a career, the more likely your “web of contacts” will grow and reach out over great distances. The more important it is that you develop a solid reputation, to ensure that negative impressions don’t spread through your network. In this day and age, these negatives can spread far and wide throughout your network, and amplify through all your contacts networks in very short order.
Moral of the story? Be nice. Play well with others. Be on time. Do your homework. Because you never know when you’ll meet someone you knew 25 years ago, and you want them to remember you for something good, not something bad. Managing your reputation is something like managing a brand. What do you want to stand for?
I was glad when I got a smile from the person I worked with 25 years ago. I’m hoping that it is because he remembered me in a good way.