Found this fascinating article about the financial services sector and reputation. Saw it referenced on Twitter. It’s titled Rebuilding Trust with Enterprise Social Networking and describes how some financial services companies are using ERM (enterprise relationship management) effectively to network internally for external relationship-building. If you are into that sort of thing, read it. What interested me were two sentences at the top of the article: “Reputation and brand won’t carry the weight they did before the crisis. In this new world, where reputation is no longer enough to create confidence, people turn to trusted individuals.” Although I realize the author was referring to internal trusted individuals who provide colleagues with access to relationships to grow business, it got me thinking about individual vs. collective reputation. I think that most people are disenchanted with trusting individuals as much as they did. They just need to remind themselves of CEOs, presidents, investment advisors, politicians, journalists and many more that have let us down. The trust levels of most people of influence could not be lower. Let’s not forget that many smart people trusted Bernie Madoff with their life savings because of his carefully built exclusive reputation. The recession has revealed many phonies behind those once golden reputations. In my way of thinking, I believe that company and brand reputation are still going strong (with less fanfare than before) despite being misled by certain individual leaders. Many company and brand reputations in select sectors are dented but not smashed. My sense is that there will be a resurgence of intense reputation-building as companies get back on their feet and realize that they must build enduring reputations for the long-term that are based on credibility, accountability and sound leadership. I think we haven’t seen anything yet! Individual reputation-building might take a back seat to company reputation for a long while to come. Individual reputation-building will have to be carried out on behalf of the collective company reputation to really ring true.