Networking — Why What You’re Doing is Wrong

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By: Adam White, @FOSAdam

I am not a self-proclaimed networking expert nor am I a networking guru, but throughout the course of my interviews one reoccurring theme has presented itself, in order to be successful you must network, but network the right way. I’m happy to share with you the top 3 things you can do to network more effectively.

1. Stop selling your business card and start building relationships

Sports industry professionals today no longer see a 1×3 business card as the way to network effectively. Gone are the days when you can just show up to a networking event, shake hands, give someone a short summary of yourself, hand them a business card and expect to walk away with a job offer or new connection. Today you have to build a relationship with someone and show them why you, as a person, are valuable to an organization and why your skills will help the organization achieve its goals. Some easy ways to do this are to go to lunch with someone, write thank you notes, almost anything with a personal touch. This may seem like common sense to most, but many people think that giving someone your business card and chatting it up with them is a successful event of networking. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s not.

2. Stop beating around the bush

Another common thread I have found from my interviews is that prospective connections and employers want you to tell them what you want to accomplish. Do you want to be a general manager? Tell them. Do you want to be a sponsorship executive? Tell them. By letting people know your intentions right away, they can get a good grasp on what kind of qualities you can present to the organization. Another benefit of letting people know what you want to accomplish upfront, is if they are not able to help you, they might know someone who can.

3. It’s about what you know and who you know

Contrary to popular belief in the sports world, it is not all about who you know, it’s about what you know too. Not only do you have to know the right people, you also have to work and work hard to leave lasting impressions on those people. It’s hard work that leads to lasting impressions and the lasting impressions lead to a better chance of having someone who is willing to be a reference for you. In talking with people, I ask questions about resumes and what makes an applicant stand out. The most resounding answer has been “their references.” One person even went as far to say that they didn’t even look at people’s qualifications until they looked at their references. Great Relationships= Great References= Better Opportunity to Land Dream Job!