Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is, on average, about six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth. The ability to successfully network in the sports world is a talent on its own, and is one that is a necessary component to supporting a career in coaching, sports administration, communications or marketing, along with many more areas. The world is a much smaller place now due to the advents of technology, and there is an entire generation who do not understand the value of face-to-face networking. So exactly what is this and how do you do it?
First of all, a network is the web of people that you know, like and respect, and not just a measure of social distance between people. The more people you know and connect with, the more far-reaching your network will extend. Powerful networking skills are not to be underestimated, giving you an edge in any job market. When done properly, networking can be an influential tool that will put you in contact with the right people at the right time which will ultimately assist you in making your career path soar! There is significant value in meeting new people at sports competitions, conferences and meetings.
Like all worthy relationships, a network of friends and colleagues needs to be maintained and nurtured. It is important to not hide behind your computer and text messaging every day and get out there to actually meet people face-to-face. This will pay off in the long run!
Some key tips to successful networking include:
- Stay in touch with people you like even if they can’t help you right now.
- When at a function, make efforts to speak with people you don’t know. Sit at a table to eat with strangers. Do not cling to your friends and colleagues.
- Really listen when someone is speaking with you and cue off their comments to keep the conversation going. Ask open ended questions.
- Remember a person’s name using it frequently during your conversation. They like this.
- Utilize your passion about a topic to share a story. Your energy will be infectious.
- If you are extremely shy, do not let this handcuff you. Seek some guidance to find the right tools for you to overcome this.
For more information on networking and careers in sport, please visit SIRC.