Ramp Up Your Networking Efforts – Work in Sports Podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast.

A little housekeeping before we head into this episode… at WorkInSports we had multiple leadership meetings last week to say “what can we do that helps”…well here it is, you are the first to hear our plan.

#1 We are ramping up our content, because I think right now, in social isolation, we all need it. We’re going to do three podcasts a week — Mondays and Fridays will be focused on surviving and thriving in these nutty times as it relates to your career. 

So for example, I’ve done episodes on how to properly work from home, interviewed Kenneth Shropshire CEO of the Global Sports Institute, advice for conducting video interviews and more. 

If you haven’t listened to those yet, you should, it’s all very timely information.

On Wednesdays we will stick with our expert interviews — for right now they are not going to be coronavirus related —  these will be more of the normal career-focused expertise. 

~ I’ll also be very active on our private Facebook group — which you can join by searching for the WorkInSports podcast group on facebook…answer a few questions, and I’ll grant you access to this wonderful network of former guests, and aspiring sports professionals who are all trying to help each other get ahead and survive.

~ And if you reach out to me on LinkedIn, I’m going to try and do an even better job of being responsive and helpful during this time. 

#2: You are hearing everywhere, and I couldn’t agree more, to be honest, that now isn’t a time to sit on the couch, wallowing in self-pity, or watching Stephen A Smith — times are not that desperate. 

Everyone on the advice side of the industry is telling you — learn a new skill, master your craft, use your time wisely…and that is good advice.

To that point — 

One way you can do that is through our Work In Sports Academy courses. We are 100% online, which is the appropriate distance – and you’ll learn incredible strategies tactics and techniques that will get you hired in sports — once the world gets back to normal.

In fact, over the last week, I built out an abridged version of this curriculum which in the next few days we are going to be giving away for FREE to all of our current members with either free or paid accounts. All you have to do is upload your resume.

We did this to help. We are in this together. 

The full coursework is available at WorkInSports.com/academyand like I said, we’ll be making a essentials version available for free coming this week.

#3 We also recognize that many of you who had part-time or gig type jobs at events are now out of work. So, starting later this week we will be making all gig and part-time jobs free to access for anyone on our job board. 

We’ll send out more info on this as it comes live… but if you are struggling right now due to this outbreak and isolation, check out the free PT and gig jobs…and you can contact our customer service at 1-855-220-JOBS

#4 We are also doing our best to keep up with the status of all jobs. We’re double-checking openings to make sure they are still being filled. Now, with that said, things are changing very rapidly, so cut us some slack if you hit a job on our site, follow the link to apply and find out it’s no longer available.

We’re doing our best, to keep up.

Alright – we’ll keep coming up with new ways to help in the coming weeks, for now, let’s get into today’s subject.

“What can I be doing during social isolation?” — You can be networking. 

This is a GREAT time to be relationship building and doing informational interviews. 

Right now, countless sports industry workers are sitting at home unable to perform their normal tasks… I keep seeing pictures of various friends of the podcast, like Chris Grosse, Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing at Penn State, making marble races with his kids and putting twitter polls out there asking which will win? His track of his sons?

While all of these ideas are fantastic, and I find it really enjoyable to see how people are more and more engaged with their kids, there is also an overabundance of time available to many experienced industry people. 

Now is the time to reach out!! 

We always talk about how during the season it can be tough to reach people,., and then during the off-season, oh man are they busy planning and preparing…and then well in July they’re often on vacation. There is always something in the way of making connections and developing relationships… NOT NOW!

This is a great window to reach out, try to start a conversation, maybe set up an informational interview. 

Here’s what I suggest:

1: Open up excel and give yourself some categories – I use 5 categories, these are the ones that work for me:

  • Elder – someone with years of experience
  • Connector – someone very natural at connecting people, knows everyone, wants to connect them all
  • Big Thinkers – the dreamers, big ideas, never constrained by reality 
  • Insider – Always in the know, they know about transactions and people before the rest of the world. Highly informed 
  • Realist – They have their feet firmly on the ground, aren’t too crazy, level headed.

Now, you may have a totally different style for your network, your categories may be:

  • Co-worker, 
  • Fellow Intern
  • Career path
  • Mentor
  • Advisor
  • My dream role

Make something that works for you, and then start putting people in the categories. 

After you put people, actual names in the categories, you’ll start to see where you are lacking in your network. 

I like to operate with purpose, which is why I always do a little research before I get started with anything. If I just set out making connections that didn’t really fit where I need… that’s inefficient, so I’d rather spend a little time making a prepared plan.

OK, so you now can see where you are lacking connections…

Let’s say you have very few contacts in roles where you “want” to be. We’ll give it an example — – you want to work in Marketing for a team, but you have no one in your network that is in marketing for a team.

Well, now is the time!

Start with alumni of your school — see if anyone graduated from your program that is in the role you want. Reach out on LinkedIn, or reach out to your alumni services department, or career services and see if they have their email, — but if you use LinkedIn, add a note. 

Now you have the contact. 

Think of guests on the podcast, reach out, connect, tell them you heard them on the podcast and would love to connect and learn more from them. Pick a team or organization you dream of working for, look them up on LinkedIn, find their employees, reach out. 

Normally, I say go slow, you are trying to build a long-term relationship and that takes time to like, share, comment and then slowly ask questions, requests, 

BUT we have to strike now, so let’s ramp this up. 

Once you have the contact — come right out and message them, no longer than a paragraph, I hate long into emails. 

Say something like this — 

Normally, I’d move at a much slower pace and wouldn’t be asking favors of someone I just met. But these are strange times and I’m trying really hard to improve myself during this downtime. You are in a role I dream of doing someday, and I was wondering if I may be able to ask you some career-focused questions either via email or phone. I’m making the best out of isolation!

I’m telling you, this time is an opportunity to build your relationships, and ramp up the timeline it would usually take to build. In every time of crisis, there is also an opportunity, this is one of them.

So the big point here is to have a plan — build out your network of connections, see where your weak areas are, target people who make sense in your overall web of contacts and reach out to them. I know I always tell you not to ask for anything right out of the gate…but these are strange times. Usually, I say that because most of us have such limited time, you can feel really presumptive if you ask for a lot. Like I owe you my limited time. 

Now it’s different, people have time, people want to help, s reach out,  be kind, explain yourself, make sure to include that you are trying to improve yourself during this time… and I’m thinking many will be receptive!

Build that network!!

 

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

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