Yesterday in my post on the time commitments of networking, I mentioned that there is a way to shortcut the time necessary to progress through the Awareness/Relationship/Trust process.

Now before I go on, I want to re-iterate that you still must achieve a given level in order to gain the benefits of that level.  If you expect to get business from a relationship before it reaches the “Trust” level, then you are likely to be disappointed.

That being said, there is a mechanism to jump ahead a bit in the process.  All you have to do is borrow someone else’s reputation.


OK, this is also called a “referral”.  This is when someone (whom your networking target trusts) is willing to vouch for you.  This is much more than a “lead”.  A lead is just a name and maybe a telephone number of someone who “might be interested in talking with you.”

A referral means that your advocate is doing just that.  They will trumpet your skills, value, and trustworthiness to the skies and in so doing stake their own reputation on you.

Think of it as the transitive property of trust:

If your networking target trusts your friend and your friend trusts you, then the target trusts you.

Now, you may notice one caveat to this setup.  That is that you must already have a relationship at the “Trust” level before you can make use of this transitive property.  This is why you still want to build as large of a “Trusted” network as you can.  The more people who trust you, the more likely it is that there is a path of trust which leads to any given networking target.

So, how many people are in your network who would be willing to lend you their reputations?