Prepare to Work at Networking, Not Just Sports

 

You will need to create opportunities to talk to all these new people, especially those in different parts of your life other than athletics. The goal of networking is to allow you to communicate your future personal growth plans and interests and to develop face-to-face relationships with many new people that can help you in your career.

 

We mentioned earlier that one of the advantages to being a student-athlete is that you have an excellent opportunity to expand your network while you are still in competition. Every time you travel to a competition or game, try to meet and make informal contact with some of your opponents and coaches, the family, friends, and relatives of your own teammates, and even referees and umpires. Remarkably, you can expand your network at anytime and almost anywhere– even in places you thought might not be possible.

 

Be sure to find the time to make appointments with your professors so you can learn more about them. You will be amazed at how wonderfully human they are. Getting to know your professors will help you in your classes, as well as when you are in need of letters of recommendation and when you are searching for internships or full-time employment. And don’t forget to get to know your advisors, trainers, coaches, and the athletic directors. Each of these individuals has there own individual network and can assist you in much the same way your professors can.

 

The primary objective of networking will be that when the time comes, you will inform your network you are conducting a job search campaign. If they haven’t heard about your graduations from school, your “retirement” from competitive sports, or your departure from your last job, frame the news in a way that lets them know you are dealing well with the emotions of the situation and you are ready to move on to a new part of your career development. Early in the conversation, reassure the person that the real reason for your contact is to get information and advice– not that you expect them to find you a job. People want to help people, and in the final analysis, people hire people. It’s a fact.

 

Most importantly, get involved. By being active in community, academic, recreational, and social activities, where you can expand your support system and your contact network. You probably have well over fifteen years of competitive athletic experience, so see if you can use some of this athletic experience by seeking out and accepting speaking engagements with local groups who are assisting with a sports event your community. It’s a great way to meet parents of young athletes who are potential business owners and hiring managers. In sports, folks tend to look out after their own kind, and you should not underestimate the power of your athletic bonds.

 

 

About the Author

Russ Hafferkamp is the Founder and CEO of the Athlete Success Network and Managing Director and Co-Founder of Career Athletes, LLC (www.careerathletes.com). Russ is recognized as a leader and coach in the career development of collegiate and elite athletes and is the author of “CareerBall: The Sport Athletes Play When They’re Through Playing Sports” and "CareerBall: The Athlete Career Guide and Handbook".

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