If you are new to the sports industry, you’re probably asking yourself where you should start. Well lucky for you, every piece of advice I have received or heard from sports professionals has centered around the idea of networking. In this article, I will be sharing my networking advice to help you land a job in sports.
Networking: What is it?
Networking is an integral part of boosting your career in sports and the first step to gaining amazing opportunities that most likely would not happen without making connections.
Although there are many definitions of the word and process of networking, it can be defined best as “the process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence or serve the community." This definition can work for every career path, but it has way more meaning and impact for the sports industry today.
Why Networking is Important in Sports
The sports industry is considered to be a highly competitive industry to get your foot in the door and maintain a career in, so networking is the best way to ensure your dreams come true. There will be competition for jobs in a field such as sports because it has limited openings and most likely, year after year, it finds candidates with tons of experience.
Networking assists individuals looking for a career in sports to find and create jobs, help with references, build upon relationships with people you may have met through college, internships, events and other jobs. It also helps keep you informed on what is happening in the sports industry as it grows and changes daily.
The opportunities are endless when you have the right network in your corner. Organizations and teams that have many job openings potentially inherit hundreds of thousands of applicants, no matter the position. Knowing individuals who work in the areas or positions you have applied for will let them remember your name, and recommend you to their managers because of the skills you have that could resonate with their needs.
Your growing network will be an advantage to you as it will put yourself in the best position possible where you could get noticed by future employers. As you continue to get noticed the future employers and individuals will offer their guidance regarding their time in the same shoes as you however many years ago. Their knowledge and guidance is a benefit that you should take because they are the professionals after all and they surely have already gone through the same things you may be going through during your careers in the sports industry.
Ways to Build Your Network
You can build your network through a multitude of different ways including volunteering, internships, workshops and social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram. The biggest way an individual can make connections and grow a network is through LinkedIn.
Volunteering builds experience while internships provide opportunity to learn skills that you may not have been aware of. I think they both go hand in hand with one another as they are two ways that help you meet new people in positions you’re hoping to work in one day.
From following the Penn State Football Instagram account, I have noticed that the football team does a lot of networking events for their players where they take time out of their busy workouts and training to interact with individuals who can help them after their athletic careers are said and done.
Workshops are somewhat similar to conferences as they allow you to listen to experts in the industry and are traditionally considered more practical in networking. LinkedIn is so much more than what people have assumed.
I, myself, was unsure of what LinkedIn was and my thoughts on it as I created my profile but since then I have gained over 300 connections. With my connections I have made through LinkedIn, I have been able to work alongside some of the best females who hope to one day work in the sports industry as well as be a part of something bigger within the Girls Club Platform.
I have also gotten the opportunity to write about topics I am passionate about while interviewing a few women in sports who are killing the game as broadcast reporters, etc including the Hannah Mears and Missi Matthews. Those are some of the moments I am and will always be grateful for the existence of Girls Club. Mears, with the platform she created for herself, is someone who many females should look up to as she has remained authentically herself while reporting for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Networking is so much more than the simple idea of finding your clique like students do in high school. The people you surround yourself with should align with who you are and what you believe in. You need people or individuals in your life who will allow you to be your most authentic self when around them and for that reason will be the most crucial part in your future. Making those connections will bolster your network and help you in more ways than one to succeed in your sports industry career.