Use referrals to build your reputation

(credit Georgia State University)

(credit Georgia State University)

A referral is a gift and a terrific opportunity to build your reputation.

As a PR manager you have industry knowledge, high skill levels and a circle of contacts. That’s why sometimes people approach you for a referral to someone in your network. They want your help in contacting an individual who can help them with career advice, an interview, information or with thoughts on a business idea.

Referrals are gifts

When you give a referral you are giving a gift to the person seeking your help by laying open your networks for their benefit. And like other forms of gift-giving a referral has a distinct etiquette – which when followed – can enhance your professional standing by:

  • Demonstrating your industry insights and connections.
  • Making yourself more valuable to those around you.
  • Creating a sense of reciprocity which may be handy later.

Six steps

Take it as a compliment when someone asks for a referral but never take the act of giving one lightly. When you introduce another person to an acquaintance your own credibility is squarely on the line. So:

  • Firstly be fully confident those you recommend to an associate share your sense of ethics and professionalism. Sounds elementary? Yes but it can save you embarrassment and awkward situations further down the track.
  • When someone asks for a referral match them with someone in your circle who can actually help. It can be tempting to boast about your network and throw around names and numbers. But when people may need your help they don’t need your hubris.
  • Be specific and tell an acquaintance why you are referring someone and outline how they might help. This prepares them when they are contacted for meeting or over the phone. And of course always check with colleagues before passing their details to anyone else.
  • Brief the person asking for a referral on how best to approach your colleague so they don’t waste their time and make maximum use of the opportunity.
  • Ask the person seeking your help to update them on the progress of any meetings and the key outcomes of any encounters. This is your network and you must know what is going on.
  • Finally follow through by thanking those who agree to help someone at your request and offer to reciprocate however and whenever you can.

Elevate your referrals

You probably already use referrals as a business tool but you can also use them to build your profile as a PR leader.

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