Relationships are critical to actually establishing a reputation for yourself. Indeed, the only thing worse than a bad reputation is no reputation. Some professionals become generic. "They don't stand for anything in the workforce," Bennington says. "It's not so much that they've damaged their reputation, it's that they don't have one at all." Cohen, who's a master coach for the Five O'Clock Club and author of the upcoming book The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide, says that workers can under-socialize. "There's a sense that if I work really hard, the work will speak for itself," Cohen says. Much of the time, it won't.
First and foremost, Cohen notes, people need to know what it takes to keep a reputation intact. "Then you know what could potentially damage it," he says.