2 Minute Clinic: Networking Do’s and Don’ts

By: John Searby, @JohnSearby

Get out there, be connected, and establish a network.

We’ve all heard the advice about how networking is the key to success in finding a job and moving up the corporate ladder. Truth be known, it is no different in the world of sports. Every job I’ve ever been offered came as the result of a personal connection with a professional friend. Here are a couple of tips on how to network in a way that will develop relationships that will help you get a job.

Quality Relationships over Quantity of Connections. The first collegiate head basketball coach I worked for gave me a piece of advice before I went to my first Final Four (where the men’s basketball coaches convention is held). He said, “it’s more important who knows you than who you know.” What he meant was that you can meet 20 well-known head coaches at a convention and walk away with their business card after a five minute conversation. You’ll say you ‘know’ those people. The ones that matter are the ones who come away from meeting you and remember your name and something about you. That is the start of a relationship that matters. Ok, easier said than done, right? The only way you do this is to focus on developing some level of repoir and conversation with people. Don’t flit around a room at a convention or networking event trying to meet hundreds of people. Focus on really getting to know 3–5 people to a level that if you call them up next week they’ll remember who you are and be interested in talking further.

Do your homework. If you are going to a convention or networking event, try to figure out a handful of people who are going to be there that you’d like to meet. If you can find their contact information, shoot them a quick email introducing yourself and letting them know that you’d love to connect face to face for an introduction at the upcoming event. Then, when you hunt them down at the event, you won’t seem like a stalker! Once you do get a chance to meet, doing your homework will give you something relevant to talk about. For instance, a quick Google search of my company’s recent work would tell you that we just started a project for the LA Galaxy. If you wanted to engage me in conversation, mentioning that you are a huge MLS soccer fan and wonder what it is like to work with the front office of a team on a project would be a great way to start the ball rolling!

Don’t be a LinkedIn Troll. LinkedIn is designed for people who already have met face to face to connect their broader networks to one another. Random invites from people I don’t know always get rejected from me on LinkedIn and I suspect that is how many handle it. Furthermore, have a complete profile that is up-to-date, including a picture, on LinkedIn. If we meet at a trade show, convention, or other event feel free to invite me to connect. Your picture and profile will remind me if I remember meeting you or not.

I’m sure there are dozens of other great ideas on how to be a good networker. At the end of the day, if you remember that using a network to get a job is all about relationships, not contacts, you’ll be fine. In Sports Business, as in many other industries, your professional friends are the ones who help you land the great jobs.

You can view John’s other pieces on his blog at https://morningrunguys.com