With Thanksgiving on the horizon, our thoughts may turn to what we thankful for. I’ve been thinking about WHO I’m thankful for.
As a long-time PR consultant, I run my business on my own. Well, sort of.
While I’m hands-on with my clients and it may appear to be a one-woman show, I actually have a network of pros I turn to to handle the things I don’t specialize in.
This got me thinking about two things:
1. Why is it important to have other pros to refer clients to?
2. Who do you need to know when you are on your own?
While some may claim to be able to do it all, we don’t — and can’t — do all things well.
It pays to be ready with a list of vetted pros who specialize in services that dovetail with what you’re best at, so you know who to call when you (or your clients) need help.
You may worry that you’re giving away work. On the contrary, knowing the right person for the task at hand actually makes you look even better. You want to help your clients succeed.
So why not be ready with the best resource to fit the need?
I learned this the hard way when I first started out on my own. Faced with a project I accepted without having the right resources in place, I had to scramble to find some. Sometimes, this is easier said than done.
Now, I keep a list of preferred service providers and usually at least one backup, should a contact be unavailable.
Of course, it depends on what you specialize in. If you’re a PR consultant, you may not handle clients from all industries. Maybe your specialty is in one or two verticals. That means you may want to know of consultants who handle other industries, should you be approached.
If you write, you may not accept all types of writing projects. For example, I do a lot of writing for clients, however, if someone asks for a 20-page technical white paper, I'm probably going to refer that out, as that's not my area of expertise
My point is that you should embrace others who — at face value — may be potential competitors. There's always a chance you may find out something you didn’t know about them and what they do.
It’s even a good idea to embrace those who do exactly what you do. Why? Let me give you an example.
When I went on maternity leave, I was worried about leaving my clients in the lurch. I decided instead to ask a trusted colleague of mine if he would cover for me. This allowed me to leave my clients in his very capable hands. It worked out well for everyone. I was able to keep the client because we planned and executed a smooth hand-off of all the projects underway, making it easy for things to stay on track during my absence — so they were happy. And I was able to relax during my leave because I completely trusted the colleague who was standing in for me.
It was a win-win-win.
Who are some other folks that are good for PR pros to know? Graphic designers. Photographers. SEO pros. Website developers. Branding experts. The list goes on.
And how do you find these resources? You can meet them at events. You can use a service like WorkMarket or Guru. You can ask your existing network—or search it on LinkedIn.
Do remember that when you refer, it's a reflection on you. If you don’t take the time to vet the resource, it may come back to haunt you later.
For those services you most often refer your clients to, you may want to spend more time vetting referral sources. If you haven’t done a project together, it’s good to check out their previous work and even ask others who may know their work habits what they’re like in the trenches. Maybe even meet in person if you can so they can tell you about how they like to work with clients.
It really does pay to get to know the work of others that dovetail with your services. It helps you help your clients – and who knows, your referral sources may remember you the next time they have a client who needs your help
It's just good business.
You'll find Michelle Messenger Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and award-winning writer, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Meltwater, Spin Sucks, Freelancers Union and others. She was named a Top 100 PR Influencer by Onalytica. Michelle also serves on the advisory board of Women in PR USA.
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