You may have thought field trips pretty much stopped after middle school. But every week, students taking Professor Heidi Carr’s STC 493 Women in PR class are out and about getting to know Miami. Recently, the group of avid public relations students had the chance to take a private tour of the American Airlines Arena, where they stood on the Miami HEAT court and sat in the locker rooms to hear a special presentation.

“Getting to stand where legendary athletes have played on was an incredible experience,” said Dana Franco, a senior taking the class.

Leading the presentation, was vice president of business communications and social responsibility for the HEAT Group, Lorrie-Ann Diaz. A Miami native, Diaz’s career in the NBA spans 20 years — 19 of which have been spent with the Miami HEAT. She got her start in 1999, working as a marketing assistant for the Los Angeles Clippers where she found her love for the industry.

“It’s great to be able to say that I love my job,” said Diaz. “And for that, I know I’m very lucky.”

Fast forward to today, Diaz leads a staff of more than 30 employees and oversees public relations efforts and community outreach for the HEAT and American Airlines Arena. In addition to her responsibilities at work, Diaz is also a passionate and devoted public advocate for the LGBTQ community and women empowerment as an openly lesbian woman.

“In the world of professional sports, there have been great strides made to acknowledge the struggle of the LGBTQ community,” said Diaz. “But I’m really personally gratified and happy that at the HEAT we are leading the charge.”

Diaz uses her influence to hold talks, Q&A sessions, and sit on panels for public relations and communication students to share her experience as a woman working in professional sports. With the UM student group, she talked about the difference between being liked versus being respected and how to find a balance between the two. People you work with don’t necessarily have to like you, but you should want them to respect you.

“Women spend a lot of time worrying about how to be liked because we have to act agreeable and conciliatory,” said Diaz. “But men are not taught that.”

As college students progress into the productive world, being liked is still nice, however, it should not overshadow the importance of respect in collaboration. These are Diaz’s three tips on how to earn respect:

1. Do great work

Diaz advised students to be masters of their craft. If you aren’t a master quite yet, it’s wise to know a little about a lot as long as you’re always working toward learning more.

“Being liked is about personality,” said Diaz “Respect is about competence.”

Demonstrating competence means you are capable of performing a job well and efficiently. This helps supervisors or subordinates trust you and shows you have a high level of accountability.  

2. Be an active listener

People might assume that the most respected person in the room is the one standing at the front giving the presentation, but sometimes that is not the case. If you find yourself always needing to talk, chances are you aren’t that person either. Respect is earned by “actively listening to the ideas of others” and taking it as an opportunity to learn from them. Diaz recognized that, in listening to your peers, you treat them with respect. In turn, this respect arises for you and what you have to say.

3. Elevate those around you

Think about the person you respect most in the world. Are they someone who pushes people under the bus or gets angry when mistakes are made? Probably not. In business, almost every major accomplishment is a team effort.

“When you uplift those around you, you all succeed together,” said Diaz.

She also advised students that if they want to earn respect, take time to mentor or help someone get the job done and right.

“Look for opportunities to help others and show compassion,” said Diaz. “Which will automatically earn you their trust and respect at work.”