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What Harvard Business School Teaches You About Marketing Yourself

harvard business school

Harvard Business School teaches a simple concept. It goes like this: “Identify your unique competence and match it to a larger opportunity.

While intended for Harvard business students, that message transcends the classroom and could serve as a mantra for living a productive life.

Today I’m going to show you how to leverage that exact idea in a way that will help you achieve your life-long goal of working in the sports industry.

What Can Harvard Business School Teach You About Life?

Your “unique competence” is a combination of your God-given talent, your learned skill-set, your education and your experiences. Even the intangibles; such as your character, your integrity and your work ethic; are part of the mix.

Every positive thing that you are as a person – and a professional – should be packaged in a way that highlights your skills and shows proof that you can solve a unique problem, fill a specific need and be the right answer to a larger opportunity (Much like Sportsbiz reporter Darren Rovell suggests below).

In your case, the “larger opportunity,” can be anything related to the employer’s business objectives. This includes things such as increasing sales, creating new revenue streams, managing clients, writing press releases, editing video, designing sneakers, community outreach and market research. The list goes on.

Re-frame The Opportunity


Regardless of the sports business sector you choose, opportunities can be found. A strategic way to view the employer’s opportunities, or business objectives, is to re-frame them as business challenges and problems.

The reason you want to do this is because it will help position you as a legitimate candidate. You want the employer to see you as the person who can meet those challenges and solve those problems.

The good news is that sports companies in every business sector have problems. All kinds of problems. And they need your help. For example, businesses need help with:

  • Executing sponsorships because they don’t have enough people
  • Social media because their strategy is weak
  • Selling tickets because sales are in decline
  • Managing athletes because of client demands
  • Help with their finances because they’re out of control

The above list barely scratches the surface. Like every other industry, there’s no shortage of problems that need to be addressed. In order to identify the opportunities that fit, you must be proactive. Do your homework. And do the legwork. The more specific a problem you can solve, the more attractive you’ll be as a candidate.

This will increase your chances of getting your first job in sports.

And if you’re graduating soon, or new in the business world, you don’t have to be the single answer to the problem. Instead, communicate how you – as a team player – can make a solid contribution to the department’s challenges.


  1. Identify a Problem
  2. Become the Solution

This is just a start, but it is a great one. Can you think of any other keys to marketing yourself, standing out and landing your career in sports? Let us know in the comments below!

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One Response to What Harvard Business School Teaches You About Marketing Yourself

  1. David White October 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Great post!
    Thanks very much for sharing 🙂

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