Rome wasn’t built in a day and one man didn’t build it. The same is true for sports broadcasting careers. Nobody does it alone. Building a successful career takes many people and it is more about whom you know than what you know.
Here are some ways to get to know people who might lead you to future opportunity.
Ask, “What can I do for you?”
I don’t like to use the word networking for the art of meeting and getting to know people. I like to call it relationship building. To many folks, networking implies that you want something from somebody – it sounds like “what can you do for me.” Relationship building comes from a place of, “what can I do for you.”
Last week, I received a call from out of the blue from a professional acquaintance of mine. On his voice mail he said, “I hope things are going well. I just wanted to see if there is anything I can do for you.” And he meant it. He has been very helpful to me in the past and was wanting to see what else he could do to be of assistance. That is relationship building.
However, that approach doesn’t work if you don’t already have a relationship with the person. You can contact an employer though and offer your assistance. Try this, “The holidays are coming up and I know you’ll have a lot of guys taking vacation. If you need someone to fill in on sports updates, I would be glad to help.” Or, “I see that a team from your community will be participating in the tournament here in our state next week. If you need an on-site reporter for your station, please let me know.” Or how about, “I see your men’s basketball team plays in my city the same day your football team is someplace else. If you need a play-by-play guy, I’m glad to help.”
What can I do for you? That is the key to building relationships that can help you with your career.
Everyone is equal
Sportscasting is a small industry. Treat everyone equally. A broadcasting intern in Class-A baseball today might be the voice of the Yankees tomorrow. The people you meet on the way up are the same ones you will see on the way down.
Attend industry events
Only ambitious people go out of their way to attend industry events. These are exactly the people you want to know. You can’t be shy, though. Put yourself out there – shake hands and kiss babies like a politician.
Stay in touch
Meeting new people is easy. Developing the relationship is hard. Stay in touch with the people you meet. Send a hand written card to thank them for taking time to visit with you, or simply tell them how much you enjoyed the conversation. Then stay in touch. Keep them updated on your career and congratulate them on their successes.
It’s hard for me to explain what disingenuous networking looks like, but I’ve seen it. It’s creepy – almost stalker-ish. You’ll feel the difference in your heart. If your only reason for contacting someone is to try to get ahead, don’t do it.
A lot of people don’t make the effort to build relationships because there usually isn’t an immediate payoff. Don’t let that stop you. The delayed reward will be worth it.
Remember – what can I do for you? If you put others first, it will come back to you double.