Demand Authentic Communication! Work in Sports Podcast

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp…. Wait for it… Vice President of Content and Engaged Learning at and this is the Work in Sports podcast.

Not sure that rolls off the tongue yet, I need to work on the new title. I was in such a routine saying director of content for ...I could say it in my sleep.

We have a lot to talk about today. First what the heck does it mean that engaged learning is on my title now?

Well, outside of my work on the podcast I’ve been working in developing online courses as part of our plans to educate our audience on I’ve been developing content for 6 years now, with over 500 blog posts and approaching 200 podcast episodes...but we wanted to ramp things up a bit, and online learning is the way.

We’ve just launched our first four courses under our Work in Sports Academy courses are perfectly targeted for college-age students, or people trying to change careers into the sports industry.

In these courses I’m not teaching you how to sell tickets, or scout a prospect - I am teaching you the tactics and strategies behind getting hired.

Course 1: Gaining the RIGHT experience

Course 2: Building and Maintaining your Network

Course 3: Your Resume, Cover Letter, and Personal brand

Course 4: Interviewing for Jobs and Internships.

You can purchase them individually based on your needs… or bundle them as a package and buy all four for a discounted price.

I’m pretty pumped about this -- and it is why my title now includes Engaged Learning.

Now, on to today’s subject.

We need to discuss Authentic Communication -- because I fear I have failed all of you and it’s been bothering me all weekend.

So I get this promotion and I update my LinkedIn profile. I’m a LinkedIn addict, this is very normal behavior for an addict.

As you all know LinkedIn makes your change in title a news item on your connections notifications pages. So, I have 5,600 ish connection and the onslaught of messages begins.

Now, before I get into my rant I want to make something really clear - I appreciate all the well wishes, I really do and I am not scolding people for saying “Congrats on your promotion!”

BUT, we need to really think about our actions.

Ok, so dialing back a second, after the promotion gets posted on LinkedIn I’ve had 1084 reactions -- that’s messages, likes etc. 1084 people did something related to this notice.

There were 4 types of responses:

1: An open-ended response

2: A customized response

3: An autoresponder response

4: A simple like of the status update.

Let’s break these down a bit and get at the root of their purpose, thoughtfulness, and impact - starting with the open-ended response.

This is the best of the best. Someone responded something like “Whoa, this is great news congratulations… so what kind of new responsibilities will you have?”

Why is this the best? Because it actually engages your subject in real, authentic communication. Asking a question is the best way to get a thoughtful response, show you actually care about the person and prove you aren’t just blitzing through the networking steps.

If you want to build relationships with people, that have depth and meaning, you need to ask more questions about the other person. Get them talking and sharing and explaining. They just got promoted, they are excited! Take advantage of their opportunity to deepen their relationship with you.

Out of 1084 people do you know how many people did this? How many people asked me a customized open-ended question? One. Jess Dewell, you are the big winner.

Jess asked “Congrats on the promotion! What is the most exciting part of this new role?”

This led to an actual real-life conversation between the two of us. That is the goal! Right? Isn’t it? If it isn’t the goal, I’d like someone to explain to me what their goal is.

Now, Before I get all bonkers on autoresponders -- I want to say, just barely a step below that is what most of you that listen to this podcast did. Most of you are really kind, smart people, who said something customized to me.

And that is great. And I appreciate it. When you say “Hey Brian, this is the best news I’ve seen in my feed all week - congratulations” Like Harrison Packer - you are doing an awesome job, it made a positive impact on me, and it deepens our relationship.

You are still winning at this… BUT, next time with someone else, think of a question you can ask that will propel the conversation forward and allow for you to chat on a personal level.

If Harrison had ended with something like, I don’t know... “are you planning a party to celebrate?”  

I probably would have responded -- Ha! Nothing special around here., but thanks for the kind words -- how are things with the Rams?” And now we are talking.

See the power in that? It’s just simple tweaks to your communication style that ramp you from a B+ to an A+.

This group, the customized message group represented 18% of the 1084 respondents 195 of you responded authentically and stood out in my mind… but could have gone a little further in your relationship building.

131 people just clicked like or love or congratulations on the status update. That’s 12% of people. It’s fine. Doesn’t move the needle, but it also isn’t fake communication.

Now, let’s talk autoresponder. Fake, inauthentic communication at it’s worst. If any of you ever do an auto response - shame on you.

70% of the people who responded to me in regards to my promotion - and remember this isn’t self-serving to keep talking about my promotion - this is to make a point about authentic communication and I just happen to be the example.  

70% of people who responded to the status of my promotion just clicked the button that automatically sent me a message that said

Congrats on your Promotion!

Now, ask yourself, if you are 1 of the 759 people to message me the exact same text -- do you think you are going to stand out for any positive reason?

This is actually the definition of going through the motions. I don't want to build a relationship with people who just go through the motions, I don’t engage with people who say the exact same thing as everyone else. Or just click a button.

Again, I don’t want to sound unappreciative… but if you are going to do things, do them with some passion, some intention, some care. Networking and building relationships with people is hard work, and it is not just add water, you can’t just click a button and be memorable. You can’t take the easy road and make things matter.

I will not remember any of the people who auto-responded -- which again makes me wonder what was their point? What was their intention? What was their goal?

You need to have reasons for your actions… or don’t bother.

Do not auto-respond. People who want to blend in auto respond. People in the sports industry don’t hire those who blend in. We want action-oriented people, people that push a little further, that take the extra step not the easy one.

It makes me mad, that our communication has become so lazy.

Think about this for a second, why does LinkedIn and other social media sites even have auto-responders? Because they know people are lazy, will use them, and it will boost their stats.

They’ll go into their next sales meeting and tell company X -- we have over 1 million communications exchanged between people each day -- and our users send more direct messages, and spend X amount of time on site -- that’s why it’s going to cost you this huge amount to buy advertising.

Think people! linkedIn, and I love LinkedIn, didn’t add autoresponders to help you. They did it to help them.

You need to get rid of the easy steps, and put in 15 seconds of thought to type something original, meaningful and open-ended. That’s the art of communication and relationship building, that’s what will make a difference in your career - not this “Congrats on the Promotion” or “congrats on the work anniversary” templated bullshit.

And you know what -- in that 15 seconds of work, make sure you spell things correctly and have some pride in your communication. Again, I am thankful for every interaction, I am, but I want better out of all of you...not just when you communicate with me, but when you communicate with anyone.

I got a message today -- Good morning Brian It's nice to make you're acquaintance. Enjoy you're day!

This is not a good first impression. Do better. Expect better of yourself. Yes, you will make mistakes, but don’t make lazy choices.

That’s all. I’m done. I just get fired up when people waste opportunities to build relationships and when I see it happen first hand, i know it’s happening with other people out there too and it isn’t good enough.

Alright everyone -- big interview on Wednesday -- Mark Coscarello, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at the United States Golf Association -- Mark shares a ton so tune in.

Alright -- time to get back to work.


Today's episode of the Work in Sports podcast is brought to you by the University of Dubuque Masters in Sports Management degree program.

I had the pleasure of meeting some of the University of Dubuque faculty at the NASSM conference and was very impressed. This is a top-notch program!

The Master’s program is part of their school of management which means it has a strong background in business -- it’s a 30 credit hour program that can be completed in one year and can be completed on campus, or online.

The Dubuque program is highly focused on training its students for leadership positions across the industry and includes integrated field experiences and professional development opportunities --

Check it out at

By Brian Clapp | June 24, 2019
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