Hanging out with a bunch of people you don’t know and making “small talk.”
Uncomfortable…almost everyone would say YES!
But I say NO! But you have to look at a networking and in particular a sports networking event differently than the common model and the way they are perceived. And since everything I write about seems to say go against the status quo it shouldn’t come as a shock that I think sports networking is no different.
The DO’s of a Sports Networking Event
1) Do bring your own homemade NameTag!
Or if you want to be really unique get one tat’d onto your chest like my friend Scott Ginsberg. He really does have a tattoo of his name on his chest. But if you don’t want to go there yet, consider making your own ahead of time and making it funny, colorful, and any way of making yourself stand out. People will be attracted to you easier and you will help break down the akward conversation that kicks off your first minute speaking with someone.
2) SMILE SMILE SMILE
As I said in one of my former blog posts…A B S…always be smiling! You are there at the networking event and it is going to go on whether you walk in with a glum look on your face, stand in the corner, OR if you walk in grinning ear to ear order yourself a drink and start walking up to every single person in the venue!
3) Ask Don’t Tell…Listen Don’t Speak
People love to talk about themselves and you never know what you might find out. So start introducing yourself (you will already be grinning ear to ear and have a cool wacky nametag on so it won’t be hard!) and just ask a question. Let that person lead the conversation and listen to them.
If you enjoy what they had to say ask another question or begin to speak about yourself a little bit. See if it is worth it and you will be amazed at what you can find out about people.
4) It’s Your Attitude Baby!
If you walk in and think it is a waste of your time and you don’t want to be there then you will get out exactly what you put into it.
Attitude is everything. Set a goal of how many people you are going to shake hands with, get cards from, and remember their names. Do not stop until you hit that goal. The more doors we try to open the easier the opportunities are to line up with people down the road. You determine how the event will go, no one else. Say to yourself 20 times before the event out loud throughout the day that “This sports networking event tonight is going kick some major BUTT and I can’t wait for it.”
Say it over and over before you go and I bet that it does.
5) Give people something interesting
You are there to network, meet new people, and gain contacts and down the road possibly clients and friendships. But that is down the road now is now. Give them something interesting about you!
Don’t say “Well I work at blah blah blah, you know pretty competitive, I am just trying to get my name out there, blah blah blah.”
Say “Man this morning some lady ran right into me and spilled water all over my sweet $20 suit…I couldn’t believe it! Thank goodness it dried before I came to this networking event and for my salsa dancing class after this…just kidding…it’s a swing class.”
Make yourself interesting and your network will get bigger.
Make yourself like everyone else and you will just collect some business cards and make it appear to yourself that your network is getting bigger.
6) Thanks and Follow Up
Send everyone you got a funny thank you card of yourself (remember you wore a wacky nametag, smiled the whole time, listened, and told hilarious stories when spoken to so it only fits) and say something about that person that you remember them saying to you during your conversation and give yourselves a reason to speak again.
Either an idea you have for their business, or a funny transition if you think it is someone who could be a good contact for referrals, or if you would just like to get a new friend. Give them a valid business reason!
7) Know sports facts/current trends!
If you are going to a sports networking event, know something about sports. For instance if I was going to one tonight I would be up to date on the baseball standings, NFL draft, NHL and NBA playoffs, and the upcoming London games. Just saying…you are what you envision yourself and present yourself as. If you seem like someone who knows nothing about sports or sports marketing/media you probably aren’t going to get referred by these people. ACT THE PART!
The Don’t's of a Sports Networking Event
1) Don’t just collect business cards and shake hands so fast you forget people’s names.
2) Don’t just hang out at the bar the whole time by yourself (unless you are actually Paul Newman then do whatever the heck you want b/c you have nothing to prove!)
3) Don’t blame anybody but yourself if you don’t get what you wanted out of it.
4) Don’t get frustrated if it’s not the turnout you expected.
It is the quality not the quantity sometimes!
5) Don’t say anything but the TRUTH!
Take these DOs and DONTs to your next networking event in the sports world and everything else should be CREAM CHEESE! (About 2:30 to 2:45 is my punch line in the video.)
And most importantly remember that everyday you are out, every person you meet is a possible networking event. You never know who you are going to run into when and where so be prepared!
Sports Networking is everywhere you look if you just open your EYES!
Let us know about any sports networking
Also what is your best experience from a networking event and what is your number one piece of advice for those who will be attending a sports networking event in the near future? Leave your comments below or tweet us!