Should I Give Virtual Networking a Try? 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.

I’ve been ending every show sharing the importance of wearing a mask -- but I don’t want to bury this conversation at the end.  It’s not a political statement, it’s not controversial, it’s a simple thing we all have to do. Wear a mask.  Be safe. 


I want sports to return, I want fewer people to die, I want my kids to go back to school safely. We can all contribute to that... just start with wearing a mask. 

Later today I’m really pumped to be interviewing Ameena Soliman, Player Personnel Coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, Ameena spent multiple years with the Temple University football program, interned with the NFL league offices, and began working for the Eagles three years ago -- we talk player personnel, the combine, learning to evaluate players,  being a woman in sports, and even deeper being a Muslim woman in sports who wears a hijab and I’m guessing has been the subject of stereotyping -- we’ll learn more shortly. 

And then Wednesday this week -- check out my interview with Melissa Silberman, Director of Partnership Activation for the Atlanta Hawks. Very cool business conversation - Melissa is in the business of providing sponsors value with, a lot of the time, in-arena marketing activations. 

Well -- how do you pivot when there are no fans in the stadium and still create value for sponsors. That’s what we talk about and it’s really fascinating so tune into that on Wednesday.

Today - great question coming in from Michael J.

Hi Brian! Hope all is going well! I have enjoyed listening to your podcast! I will be attending my first virtual networking event in a couple of weeks. I am a person with a lot of social anxiety and struggle with networking events. Would you be able to provide any advice on how to handle a virtual networking event? Thank you, Michael Johnson

Great question Michael. Many points to be made here.


Networking isn’t easy for most of us


I’d say envision it as a bell curve. There are 10% of people who love and adore the art of networking. 10% of people who are deathly afraid of it, and then 80% of people who are in the middle, don’t love it don’t hate it. 

I’m in the 80%. Don’t love it, don’t hate it. 

What this really means though is 90% of people, aren’t really avid fans of networking. But we all realize it’s important. 


Social anxiety is a real thing. 


Of course you know this, you don’t need me to validate you -- but anyone out there that deals with social anxiety needs to accept it, not fight it. Don’t try to convince yourself you aren’t or you can fix it. Be who you are, it’s OK. 

I’m reading a book right now, it’s based on a story from the 1930-50’s so before WWII, during and after. There is a character who was gay but tried for decades to “fix” himself. I found this heartachingly sad. 

I would hope anyone, anywhere today would be who they are, accept it, love who you are, and figure out how to get the best out of yourself. 

If you are someone who deals with social anxiety, learn your triggers, figure ou those things that really inhibit you.  I remember our team of reporters interviewing Ricky Williams back in th day when he left University of Texas to enter the NFL - and he deals with social anxiety, he would conduct interviews with his helmet on. People thought h was weird or aloof... no he was dealing with anxiety and it helped him

Don’t be afraid of what helps you. Don’t try to please everyone else, make yourself happy.  


Let’s get into what you can do


Social Media is your friend. A Virtual networking event may not be. Round peg, square hole. 

There are literally thousands of people I have had intelligent, thoughtful conversations with, without ever hearing their voice. 

Listen in to the Work In Sports podcast episode to learn more!

By Brian Clapp | July 20, 2020
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