Several weeks ago I wrote about The 10 Touch-Points of Personal Branding and how it can help you launch your sports career. Touch-Point numero uno is your “Intro Letter.”
Today I’m going to show you why your Intro Letter is so important and how you can write one strong enough to kick open any door in the sports industry, including Dallas Cowboys’ Owner Jerry Jones.
Why Your Intro Letter is So Important
Your Intro Letter is the first impression a hiring manager will have of you. And since first impressions stick with people, and influence how they perceive you, it’s imperative that you write a strong Intro Letter.
(Author’s note: the best Intro Letter is one written to your target employer by a mutual friend. However, since most of you reading this don’t have many, or any, mutual friends of a hiring manager, this ‘Self’ Intro Letter I’m teaching you today will do the job.)
The Purpose of the Intro Letter
The primary purpose of the Intro Letter is to get your foot in the door. Your objective is to initiate a positive dialogue. Think of the Intro Letter as a way to start conversations that lead to future conversations that lead to job interviews, which ultimately leads to a job offer. Introducing yourself is where it all starts.
When written and executed correctly your Intro Letter is the key that will unlock the door to your targeted employers. While every Touch-Point is important, a strong Intro Letter can be the difference between getting doors slammed in your face, or having them swing wide open.
One of The Most Powerful Weapons for Breaking Into Sports
When it comes to marketing yourself for a job, the Intro Letter can be one the most powerful weapons in your arsenal. It starts the dialogue. It initiates a relationship. It gets things going in your favor.
I’ve written some pretty strong Intro Letters in my career. They weren’t necessarily the most eloquent. But when I say, “strong” what I mean is this: the Letter did exactly what it was meant to do. It got me face-to-face with the very people I needed to meet in order to further my career.
A strong Intro Letter is how I got my foot in the door—and eventually hired—by the Dallas Mavericks. I’ve also written Intro Letters to major brands like Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola that got me a meeting with their marketing folks (who I didn’t know). Those Letters ultimately led to securing sponsorship money for sporting events that were just ideas on paper at the time I contacted them.
The Intro Letter is also how I got connected to Rich Dalrymple, Senior Vice President of Communications for the Dallas Cowboys. And, because of the same Letter, I ended up spending an afternoon in Jerry Jones’ corner office with a group of college students looking to break into sports. Prior to the Intro Letter I had never met Mr. Dalrymple, or Mr. Jones.
The same formula I used to write those Letters is what I’m teaching you today.
Every important business relationship starts with an introduction. Writing your own Intro Letter cuts to the chase. It doesn’t have to be long. It just has to hit them right where it counts: in the heart and in the head. You can’t pull any punches. You’ve got to unload a massive hit. Remember: you only have one chance to make a powerful first impression. So you absolutely have to crush it.
Two Types of Intro Letters
Since there are two types of companies you should be targeting: A) Companies With Employment Ads; and B) Companies Without Employment Ads, you’ll need two different types of Intro Letters.
Before we dive into the two types of Letters, there are a couple of things that both Letters must include. For starters, it must be addressed to a real person, not “To Whom It May Concern.” And just as important, it has to be the right person. (Read: the person that has the power to hire you.)
Secondly, both types of Letters must be customized for each hiring manager on a list of companies you’re targeting for employment. You’ve got to make it personal. And it’s got to be relevant.
Intro Letter for Companies With Employment Ads
This group of companies have placed employment ads either on their company’s website, or online job boards. Sometimes both.
These employers need to be approached in a very forthright manner because: A) There’s a position open; B) They want to fill it; and C) They’re inviting the world, or at least those that match certain criteria, to apply for the position. Since this is an urgent, and a highly competitive situation, there’s no time for B.S. It’s in your best interest to get straight to the point.
Before you write each Letter, you must read each company’s ad thoroughly. Employment ads give you solid clues to what’s important to the company and what kind of person they’re looking for to fill the open position.
This Type of Intro Letter Needs to Hit Four Main Points:
1. Who You Are
2. Your Relevant Experience
3. How You Can Bring Value
4. Call to Action
For a good example of this type of Letter, I’m going to pull back the curtain and reveal the exact Intro Letter I sent to the Dallas Mavericks. Keep in mind: when I decided to pursue my dream job with the Mavericks, I already knew what my best position was. And, just as important, I found out who was in charge for hiring that position. Simply put, all my ducks were in a row, including my marketing message.
My number one target was George Killebrew, Sr. VP of Corporate Sponsorships. For the record, I did not know Mr. Killebrew. And he did not know me. Below is the first paragraph (word-for-word) of the Intro Letter I wrote to Mr. Killebrew. It was sent via email.
Mr. George Killebrew:
My name is Chris McKinney and I have seven years experience in the sports marketing industry. Because of my deep passion for basketball and my ability to navigate within the system of sports, I believe I would be a strong candidate for the Corporate Account Executive position.
As you can see, I was able to cover two of the four main points right away in the first sentence:
1) Who I Am; and 2) My Relevant Experience.
A little further into the letter I was able to hit points three and four. Below is an excerpt from the same Intro Letter I sent to Mr. Killebrew.
3) How I Can Bring Value
I know Dallas is a hoops hotbed. I understand the fans. I feel their passion. But most importantly, I can help you harness that passion and convert that excitement into new and larger corporate sponsorships.
4) Call to Action
I would love the opportunity to meet with you and discuss the possibilities of being part of your team. Please contact me at your earliest convenience. I look forward to hearing from you.
Did my phone start ringing off the hook from George begging me to work for him? Hardly. I had to do exactly what every member of George’s team does on a regular basis: make the all-important follow-up call. (We’ll cover how to make effective follow-up calls in a future post.)
Because of a well-written Intro Letter, I was able to engage my number one targeted company and secured an interview, which was my objective. And ultimately, I accepted a job offer and reached my goal of working for the Dallas Mavericks.
By following this basic 4-point formula, you can do the exact same thing. It all begins with you taking action. If you need help, hit me up here. That’s what I’m here for.
Feel free to comment below if you have any keys to writing a solid Intro Letter or post this article on FaceBook or Twitter if you found it helpful. Remember to tag us @sportsnetworker