Conference Review: Sports Industry Networking and Career Conference

Since I’ve tried to impart on you the importance of attending conferences, I thought I should start a series reviewing the conferences out there so you can make educated choices about which ones to attend. There is no one conference that’s perfect for all of you. Much of it will depend on what area of sports you’re interested in or how much you can afford to spend to attend a conference.

I’m not willing to vouch for any conference I haven’t attended, so I’ve found some people to write guests posts on some of the ones coming up the first few months of the year. After looking at the website for the Sports Industry Networking and Career Conference, I thought it might be a valuable one to attend because of the interview opportunities. The deadlines for this one are soon, so I wanted to get the guest post up ASAP.

Quick details:

  • Conference date/location: February 10-11, 2012 (Washington, DC)
  • Early registration deadline: January 6, 2012
  • Resume deadline: February 3, 2012
  • Cost*: $185 (early registration); $230 (after January 6th); discounts for groups of 5+

*Note: The cost includes breakfasts, lunches and a networking reception

Chevonne Mansfield has been nice enough to write a guest post about her experience at the SINC Conference and why she thinks you should attend:

By: Chevonne Mansfield @cmansfield27

I attended the Sports Industry Networking and Career (SINC) Conference as a young professional in 2009 and 2010. At the time, I was in my first job out of graduate school and was lucky enough to get an invite to the conference from Dr. Lisa Delpy Neirotti, Co-Founder of SINC and Associate Professor of Sports Management at The George Washington University (GWU).

2009 was the inaugural year for the SINC Conference. That year, I was a featured panelist on the Challenges and Opportunities in Collegiate Sports panel with Keith Gill (Athletic Director at American University), Jim Kuznar (then VP/GM at CBS Collegiate Sports Properties), Terri Lakowski (then Public Policy Officer at Women’s Sports Foundation) and James Greenwell (then Senior Associate Athletic Director at University of Maryland). Even though I was a panelist, I made sure to take full advantage of the conference by attending the sessions that were of interest to me. After all, we are learning at every stage of our career, right? You should always want to be a sponge.

What stood out to me about the SINC Conference was that it helped reinforce what I already knew — the power of relationships and how strong that is. Everyone you meet at SINC has one goal in mind – to better themselves as a professional. They will be some of the best people you ever meet in this field if you do things the right way. There are people from all walks of life at SINC: seasoned professionals, college students, recent grads looking to network and people looking to break into sports. I was surprised to see that I could meet/connect with people just by walking thru the hallways of the Media and Public Affairs at GWU (where SINC has been held since its inaugural year). The panelists often hang out there after completing their sessions and that is the best way to catch them.

Let’s talk a bit about the actual format of the conference. The SINC Conference is two days long, and it is usually held over the weekend on a Friday-Saturday. You will start Friday morning around 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. and go thru until 6:00 p.m. that evening. The day is jam packed with panels (usually 45 minutes for each panel) with lunch served around noon. The best part of the day is the lunch session, because it is a networking lunch. Several dozen sports execs are in the room sitting at different tables and SINC participants fill in the empty seats. It is a casual atmosphere where you can chat with different sports execs and your fellow SINC attendees.

Attendees are also invited to a networking reception on Friday evening when the sessions are complete. The reception is free and included with the price of registration, and I suggest that all attendees take advantage of this. The reception is held in a different location from where SINC is hosted, but close enough that you can walk there.

The final day of SINC (Saturday) starts around 9:00 a.m. at GWU before moving to Nationals Park that afternoon. There is a networking lunch on Saturday, similar to day one, along with guided tours of the park (free and included with the price of registration). The day wraps up around 4:00 p.m. after several afternoon sessions.

So why should you attend?

1)      Because SINC panelists are usually sports execs from the Washington, D.C. area. The District is a huge sports hub – there are many NCAA Division I programs in the area as well as six professional sports teams (Washington Nationals/MLB, Washington Wizards/NBA, Washington Mystics/WNBA, Washington Capitals/NHL, Washington Redskins/NFL, DC United/MLS). The NFLPA is also in Washington, D.C. The kind of access you get to these professionals at SINC is unparalleled. There are many opportunities to rub elbows with them outside of the panels (networking lunches each day, networking reception Friday night and also just by running into them throughout the day).

2)      You have to get your name out there however you can whether it’s thru networking events, professional organizations, conventions, etc. The more visible you are, the better.  I learned that early in my career. You will meet some great people at SINC that are willing to help you in your career path. It could lead to more experience for you. And the more experience you have, the better. Getting where you want to go is a combination of skill, networking and luck/timing. The sooner you start, the better off you will be. Of course there is no direct path to get to where you want to go, but you can increase your chances by increasing your visibility.

3)      It will help you grow as a professional. Some of you may have to work harder at networking because let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard approaching complete strangers to “network”. When Dr. Delpy Neirotti offered me a spot on the Collegiate Sports panel in 2009, I gladly accepted the offer but inside I was a bit nervous because I was on the panel with seasoned professionals. Looking back, I’m happy that I had that opportunity. Try to use SINC as an opportunity to break out of your shell.

4)      It is fairly cheap to attend considering all that is offered. Early bird registration is offered before a certain date and discounted group registration is available. You can register for SINC for under $200 if you sign up before the early bird deadline. That is a decent price for one of the premier sports conferences in the nation.

I am still in touch with several people I met from SINC. One person was an undergraduate student at the time; he’s now working in sports communications in New York City (NYC). We formed a great friendship and he helped one of my mentees get an internship in NYC. The power of relationships is real and SINC helped me form some of those long lasting partnerships.

 More information on SINC is available at http://sinc-conference.com. They are also on Twitter:  @SINCConference

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Check out the Conference Advice tag on the right sidebar for advice on why you should attend conferences, what to do before you go, how to meet people while you’re there and how to follow up with your new contacts once you’re back home.

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