By: John Searby, @JohnSearby
This week I’m participating in a Sports Business roundtable here in Charlotte for a group of Clemson University student’s who are visiting town on a tour of our sports culture. They are a part of a class for their school’s Sports Management Program and getting the opportunity to tour facilities and meet with professionals in the sports industry all over the Charlotte area.
I think that this group is a great example of young, aspiring sports professionals taking advantage of every opportunity that is placed before them to learn about the industry and network with industry professionals. They are certain to find out about jobs in sports that they never knew existed and the reality behind working for teams that maybe they haven’t thought about. The panel that I am on consists of professionals who work in sports related fields that maybe no one has ever thought about — me, a sports facility design firm; a company that does 3D printing of sports stadium and memorabilia; a company that builds shipping containers into hospitality venues for sports events; an agency that has several sports clients including a new league of Fitness Games; and an outdoor advertising company executive that helps our local teams get their message out in airports, bus advertising, and train signage. Needless to say, it will be an informative week for these Clemson students.
The bigger message here, however, is to take advantage of every opportunity you have this summer to create connections. These may be formal and organized like this group of students or a convention or trade show. They might be informal opportunities for stop in visits or lunch.
Taking a vacation? See if there is a company or organization you’re interested in at the locale and shoot off a couple of emails and see if you can buy someone breakfast or lunch to pick their brain.
Working an internship? Ask your boss to introduce you to some people in the organization that you don’t work with on a day-to-day basis.
Working some mundane job that you wish you didn’t have to work? Talk to your customers and strike up a conversation about what you REALLY want to do — you might be amazed at who comes through your door at American Eagle. I once hired a woman who had been working as a salesperson at the AT&T store because she provided me a customer experience unlike any I’d ever had in a retail cell phone store. We struck up a conversation, had lunch a couple of days later, and within a month she was working for me because I wanted my customers to have the same experience that I had in that store and I knew she would give it to them.
Whatever you are doing this summer, take every opportunity to connect. Take every opportunity to prepare. Take every opportunity to practice your craft. In the sports business, we are constantly ‘on’ — everything we say and do is on display because of the environment in which we work. Keep that in mind this summer and you’ll start to see opportunities you hadn’t even dreamed were there.
Be sure to check out John’s blog at https://morningrunguys.com