Making Deep Connections at a Conference or Networking Event - Work in Sports Podcast e052

By Brian Clapp | February 19, 2018

You've gone to a sports conference or a networking event and met some important people - yippee! How do you follow up with them to make sure the relationship stays strong? We have a plan for that!

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports Podcast…

It’s a Monday QA session!

We’ve got a good question coming in from Alan in Kansas City.Your Sports Career Questions Answered

And since Alan is having his question read on the show – he’s going to get a free month of full access to, which as of right now…. We have 6,636 jobs available and another 471 internships… here’s a digital and social media manager for adidas, pretty cool, and a director of marketing for a golf course in Florida.

See, quick tangent here, that’s what I love about our site, we represent employers big and small, not just adidas and the Oakland Raiders, smaller and mid-sized companies that may not be as well known.

I’ve been in the business 20 years and it seems like every day on our site I read about an employer I had never heard of before. Those small to mid-sized employers present opportunities I would never have found on my own, but these are good jobs really good jobs, that could be your stepping stone to your dream position.

It just makes so much sense.

Anyway – on to Alan’s question:

Hi Brian – Love the podcast, thank you so much for your effort and consistency in publishing. You’ve mentioned many times that you don’t really like networking, but I get the vibe that you probably still have a process you utilize to maximize any networking experience you are in. Am I right? So can you share some secrets, because I find I go to conferences and networking events, and within a week the new best friend I thought I made is all dried up and crusty.  

Oh Alan, you know me so well. And I loved the way you wrote this question so you get bonus points.

Yes, I have a method and system for following up with people whether I meet them at a conference or a networking event, or I speak in a class…whatever the scenario, I have a process.

Side note – I don’t think of myself as a meticulous process guy, but when someone writes in and assumes that I must have a process and in fact they are right, I do have a process, I think it is time to conclude that I am a meticulous process person.

Which sounds so lame, I much prefer to think of myself as a hippie, creative, fly free type. But I guess when you have lists of processes you should implement for various scenarios, you aren’t exactly a wildling.

Alright on to Alan’s question.

Networking events and conferences can be an exercise in futility if not properly managed.

As Alan eluded to in his question for me, networking events can be anxiety producing, out-of-comfort-zone, exercise in cold sweats.

Maybe I have my mom to blame for constantly drilling into my head I shouldn’t talk with strangers, because even almost two decades into my career, I have never felt comfortable at networking events or even conferences.

We all have our issues.

These conferences and events are important though, because while you may get introduced to opportunities on sites like ours, the more people you know in the industry, the more likely you are to have a connection that can help you in your process of getting noticed.

The old “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” – now for the record I think that saying is a BS cop out, but that’s a story for another time.

The goal of any sports conference or networking type event should be to learn, but also to make lasting deep connections, and you can’t do that as a wall flower.

I had a colleague say to me once, ‘if you are going to go through the anxiety leading up to an event, you might as well make sure you get something out of it.’ Good point.

So after you’ve chatted people up, collected some business cards and email address and got their Instagram handle…here’s how you deepen the relationship with that person you think can be vital to your sports career:

Within 24-48 hours:

1: Craft a hand-written note

2: Connect on Social Media

3: Set up a Google Alert for Their Name or Business

I checked – this isn’t considered stalking.

You are looking to have further intelligent conversations with this person and the best way to do so is to keep up on what is happening in their world.

In the First Few Weeks:

4: Plan out Your Correspondence


5: Figure out how to Help Your New Contact

The best way to start building a friendship or report with someone is to provide them with value, so spend some time brainstorming how you can help your new contact:

  • Do you know anyone who could help them in their business? You can offer to set up a talk.

  • Have you read an article relevant to your discussion at the networking event? Share it.

  • Are there any events or conferences you plan on going to in the near future? Invite them.

These are simple ideas to offer something other than, ‘do you know of any jobs I can get?”

Every Other Month

6: Find a way to Talk

Offer coffee, a drink, send an email, make a call – it doesn’t matter what you choose, just plan on doing something every other month.

7: Don’t be Afraid to ask

If you’ve built a relationship you can ask for things from your new contact – just please don’t make it about a job. If you stay present, prove your skills and industry knowledge, this person will think of you if a job opens up, even without you asking.

The things you want to ask about are advice driven. Show this person you respect their opinion and want to learn something from them.

  • Tell them you are thinking about taking a class in (insert subject) do they think that is a wise choice and beneficial?

  • Ask if early in their career they wish they would have done something different

  • Ask what their biggest successes have been and how they navigated the choices

That should cover it! Listen to the podcast to get more details on all of these ideas.

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