How to Build Industry Relevant Relationships - Work In Sports Podcast

The bond and connection you form with people you come in contact with is far more important than the number of connections you have. We explain in this edition of the Work In Sports podcast.

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning for and this is the Work In Sports podcast…

So quick story before we get into today's podcast - it will make sense to you as it all comes together but you have to go along for the ride with me for a bit. 

When I first started in the industry, yes you have all heard me mention it 10,000 times, I was working in the sports broadcast media at CNN/Sports Illustrated. One of the first things I noticed on the job was that there was a division amongst the staff. 

There was the editorial staff -- producers, anchors, reporters, editors, production assistants 

And there was the operations staff - camera operators, graphics, directors, audio ops, master control, sub-control etc. 

These were like two different operations in the same small area. It’s not to say the two groups didn’t get along, but there was a bit of a ...I’m searching for the right word here… disconnect. 

I was on the editorial side, and I’ll admit, our group had more ego and a feeling of self-importance. We were creators...and you are just executors. Again, it wasn’t a spoken thing, it was just a feeling in the newsroom. 

It kind of bothered me, but I was so young I had no idea what to do with that ...disconnect. So I started really subtly, maybe even subconsciously, trying to be a bit over the top with my connection to the operations side. 

I’d spend my day creating the show ...and then as I'd enter the control room to make it all come to life, every day no matter how stressed I was or if there was breaking news  or whatever...I’d enter the control room and boisterously exclaim “hey everybody”

And everyone would kind of laugh a bit. It becomes a bit of a joke… where I would be grabbing lunch in the food court and hear someone on the operations staff yell across the room -- “Hey everybody!”

I’d hear it everywhere… and we’d all laugh a bit.

We are on our 228th episode of this show, and every single one I have started with a simple “Hey everybody” and it’s my subtle reminder to myself, to remember, this whole thing, everything we do in life, is about forging relationships, connections, and bonds with others. 

Last week I spoke in a class at Arizona State University, and it was a really great session. I have a rough idea of points I want to make in these sessions, but I am so afraid of being and sounding rehearsed, that I always try to let it flow and see where the conversation goes. 

Well, we got into a subject and discussion on networking and I couldn’t stop thinking about it all weekend. 

We’ve got this whole thing backward. So many people view networking as a gamified version of their career, where whoever connects with the most amount of people wins the virtual trophy.

And, once they make a connection, they view it as a one-way street, or an obligation for that connection to help them. 

I literally can’t tell you how many people connect with me and immediately ask me to do something for them. And not only do they ask, but they go through chapter and verse about their life, challenges and missteps to I don’t know to provide me context for the advice I’m required to give them?

Now, I do it, because that’s my game… I respond and try to give value. BUT, I think this is also a teaching moment to say -- you’re doing it wrong.

I want to give you an example, and in fact, I’m going to give my example a name. It’s Gregory Goodman, and I hope I don't embarrass him here by sharing this.  

January 10th of this year Gregory messaged me on LinkedIn:

Thank you so much

Your podcast tonight was so wonderful! I couldn't have asked for any better advice

Thank you, Gregory!

Absolutely! I'll be there Thursday night and I'm re-energized to go even that much harder now after tonight. Thanks again for all you are doing.

Right there - this is the first time I've met this person and you know what he did - he sent me a simple note that told me -- this guy has energy, he’s excited, he wants to conquer things. I like that.

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this because I try very hard to be responsive, but Greg messaged me three more times in February...following every best practice. 

He was quick, to the point and had a direct question.

Unfortunately, I ignored him.


But he didn’t give up -- his next message was… hey Brian, I have an idea for a podcast guest.

So we start talking again.

Then a month later -- hey Brian, Good evening Brian, I just wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you so much for your podcasts and great advice. I have an interview with the Boston Red Sox this week and no doubt your help has been a huge part of this. It means a lot to me and I'm very appreciative of you!

At this point now we are chatting - just like normal people do who are friends. Hey, I hope you have a nice Valentine's day! 

You to!

Then Greg sent me a set of jerseys and hats for my kids from the team he works for the Roanoke Rail Yard dogs…

Then he connects me with Lauren Sisler, SEC network reporter and one of our absolute best podcast guests to date. 

NOW - don’t get lost in the big message here -- it isn’t about sending gifts - it’s about realizing the value in a conversation. 

What happens in a conversation -- do you just talk at someone for an hour, or is there a rhythm to talking, asking, listening, giving. 

Of course, there is a rhythm! 

You need to understand right now, that every connection you build in this industry you have to put in the effort to build to a relationship. Getting a connection is nothing - building a relationship is HUGE.

The person who messaged me 8 months ago, with 7 paragraphs about their life, who I then spent my time and effort responding to, and then was never heard from again… does not have a relationship with me. They are a parasite feeding off their connection. Guess what -- that person will come back again, they always do, and they’ll ask me for a referral, or ask me if I know someone at the organization they are interviewing at. 

And I’m sorry, I won’t.

But, if Greg called me tomorrow asking for help. I’d give it, with a smile on my face because I know he’ll value the interaction and we can help each other.  

There are hundreds of Greg’s in my life -- I am lucky -- Jake Kernan, Gary Pinson, Kelsey Smith, Carl Manteau, Chris Flynn, Scott MacDonald -- but there are thousands of the other type...but I don’t know their names.   

Many of you listening to this will take away something superficial like -- Brian doesn’t want to be bothered -- and that’s BS. I’m trying to share with you what will work with everyone else out there you are trying to build a relationship with. 

You will strike out if you think building a relationship doesn’t require any work from you -- and isn’t a two-way street. 

So focus on that for a while - think what value you can add, think how you would want to be talked to - and once you do that, you’ll see how your industry connections change for the better.

That’s it for today -- thanks for listening everyone - remember to subscribe and share - I love speaking with all of you.

Alright -- get back to work.


Today's Podcast is Brought to You By


If you’ve ever thought about a career in sports, check out the MASTER’S in SPORTS ADMINISTRATION program at NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY. You’ll learn essential skills from EXPERIENCED faculty with connections to COLLEGE, PROFESSIONAL, and AMATEUR athletics. You can choose a specialization in sports analytics and get in on a growing field. Earn your NORTHWESTERN master’s degree online or in convenient evening classes.

Find out more at SPS-dot-NORTHWESTERN-dot-EDU-slash-SPORTS

And the Work in Sports podcast is brought to you by the Work In Sports Academy… 

A recent survey by McGraw Hill identified that 40% of recent college graduates felt unprepared to enter the workforce. 

They cited a lack of knowledge in resume writing, job searching and networking as major reasons for their anxiety.

Well, you have the opportunity to be different - because all those skills and much more are what I teach as part of our Work In Sports academy suite of online courses. 

Check it out’s about $300,000 cheaper than your college education, but will make a huge impact on your future.

By Brian Clapp | November 18, 2019
Sign In or Register to access all articles and insider tips for help in your job search.

Search for Sports Jobs