A friend of mine is the best relationship builder I have met in sports broadcasting.
When CBS came to his town to telecast a PGA Tour event, he went to the production truck. Not only did he meet Jim Nantz, he also met one of the executive producers in charge of hiring talent.
When he visited a nearby big city, he introduced himself to the athletic director at a local university, and what do you know, he ended up getting play-by-play opportunities for the school.
When he wanted to meet the hiring executives at the Big 10 Network, he told them he was going to be in Chicago where they’re headquartered and asked if he could stop by. They said yes.
Here are some top tips for networking with sportscasters at the next level.
Before addressing the list, let me clarify. The reason I called it networking is because that’s how most people refer to it. I won’t use it again because I hate the word. Networking comes from a place of, “What can you do for me?” Relationship building comes from a place of, “What can I do for you?”
Relationship building also comes from a place of taking genuine interest in someone else.
Onto the list:
1. Go where they are
Like my friend who went to the production truck, to the university and to Chicago, go where the people you want to meet are going to be. When you’re visiting a city for business or pleasure, can you make time to meet someone
2. Tell them why you you’ve chosen them
State what is it about them you admire or respect.
3. Request advice, not a critique
People like to be helpful. When you ask for advice, it makes them feel valued. Critiques can make them feel that way too, but also a greater time commitment — you’re asking for a larger chunk of time from somebody you don’t know. Request advice versus critiques
(Pro Tip: use the referral request method I outline here, sample emails are included at the bottom of the post).
4. Respect their time
When you reach out to somebody, say in so many words, “I understand you keep a busy schedule. If you don’t have time for several months, or maybe ever, to reply, I totally understand.” They’ll appreciate your respect of their time.
5. Offer, don’t ask, what you can do for them
Many people tell me, “Jon, if I can ever do anything for you let me know.”
I respect and appreciate their willingness to help. But I don’t know what their strengths are or what they might have in mind. Instead of saying you are willing to help, tell people how you can help.
6. Stay in touch
I guarantee my friend stays in touch with Jim Nantz, the executive producer from the CBS production truck, the college athletic director and the folks at The Big 10 Network. That’s part of relationships — getting to know people and letting them get to know you.
7. Express gratitude
Hand written thank you notes are fabulous. When somebody gives of themselves and their time, let them know you appreciate it.
8. Be genuine
This is huge. Take a genuine interest in people. When you introduce yourself, avoid talking shop with them. Get to know them personally. Be genuine.
9. Dig the well before you need water
Don’t wait to introduce yourself to the play-by-play voice of your local NBA team. Build the relationship now so that person will be there when you need them in your corner.