It’s time to start another series here on the blog, and this one is going to focus on what not to do.
Last night, I participated in a chat on Twitter under hashtag #sbchat (sb = sports business). If you want to work in sports, or do work in sports, be sure you check out chats like this and take advantage of the opportunity to interact with industry professionals. I’m going to have a post soon with a list of the chats I know about, so that’s all on that for now.
I encouraged students to join in the #sbchat tonight, and I was encouraged to see quite a few comment on the chat. However, I noticed one comment I wanted to address. I won’t use the person’s name or exact wording, because it’s an innocent mistake. It’s one I don’t want you making though.
Do not, under any circumstances, ask someone in the sports industry, “How do I get a job?”
By all means, ask questions when you get the chance. But, do not simply ask how to get a job. I can’t answer this question, because I have no idea where to start. I don’t know your educational or work background or where your area of interest lies.
Asking, “How do I get a job?” is entirely too broad, especially when you’re throwing it out to a whole group of people in a chat. It comes off as lazy, which is not the impression you want to give. Chances are, most won’t answer it. I probably wouldn’t answer except to tell you to come read this blog. In fact, if that question could be sufficiently answered via tweet or email, there would be no reason for this blog. There’s no one magic thing you can do (except perhaps have a successful pro career as an athlete).
Instead, approach someone individually (whether it be in person, via email or Twitter) and ask things like the following: What was your first job in sports? How did you get your first job in sports? What credentials or experience would someone need to get a job in your field?
If you email and ask questions like the ones I posed in the previous paragraph, I’ll send you a full answer. I try to answer every single email I get asking for career/networking advice. If it’s something I’ve covered on here, I may point you to a link, but otherwise I’ll do my best to provide an answer or advice. Many other professionals I know in various aspects of the sports industry would as well.
Ask a specific question and you’re far more likely to get a response, which could lead to engaging with that industry professional on a continued basis. This is what networking is all about. Simply ask how to get a job and not only are you unlikely to get the answer you’re looking for, you’re also not making a great first impression.
Questions are great. However, they need to be focused. Start with one or two and in later conversations/emails/tweets you can ask follow-up questions. Research what you can and ask questions about information you couldn’t find or that confused you.